Calling all you story spotters

Posted by Kevin Bishop - January 11, 2013
Filed in Business storytelling

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately around the concept of story-triggering. How people’s, especially leaders, actions cause people to retell the story of what happened. Shawn wrote a great whitepaper on the role of story-triggering in story-work, if you want to learn more about the concept.

But here is where I need your help. I remember hearing a story that, for me, seem like a great example of how someone’s remarkable (something that people remark on) action caused stories to be triggered. But for the life of me, I can’t find it mentioned anywhere, or who the main character was.

I would therefore love your help in trying to identify the story and who it is about.

Here’s how I remember the story:

It was a big airline convention, with all the CEOs of the major airlines present. It was a very sleek, smooth, “down to the minute type’ of conference, with some real big name speakers presenting to these very high-powered Executives.

One of the speakers finished and the next speaker was nowhere to be found. The audience started getting restless, as the minutes slowly rolled by with no one on stage. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes went by, and still nothing. All these very senior people were getting very annoyed with the wait.

15 minutes after he was due to present, the presenter finally came on stage and just got straight into his presentation. No apology. No acknowledgement of the delay. Nothing.

About a quarter of the way through his presentation he stopped what he was saying and asked the audience how they felt with his 15 minute delay. You can imagine some of the comments that came back to him. “Annoyed”. “Frustrated”. “Showed a lack of respect”. “Stopped me listening to what you had to say when you did start”.

He listened to these and said; “That’s interesting, because by your standards I was on timeā€¦”

If you have ever heard or read this story and know where it comes from please leave a comment below.

Your help would be very much appreciated.

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3 Responses to “Calling all you story spotters”

  1. Dave Snowden Says:

    Kevin, I suspect this is the famous British Rail story where Allen Brady & Marsh kept the executives waiting around for the best part of an hour in a grotty room with bad coffee etc and then just as they were about to walk out said: “That, gentlemen, is what confronts your customers every day. Let me now show you how you can rectify your image.” . I’ve heard it in various forms over the years and also moved to different industries. Its possible you story is an example but it could equally be (to quote Tolkein) “A story that grew in the telling”

  2. Fernanda Araujo Says:

    According to skipcohen2012 the speech you reference in your post was given by Tom Peters.
    http://photoresourcehub.com/2012/11/29/hey-your-the-one-who-wanted-to-be-a-speaker/
    Google search keyworks I used
    “”on time” 15 minutes late airline convention speech”

  3. Kevinsbishop Says:

    Thanks Dave for the reminder about that great BR story.
    Thanks also Fernanda for that link. I had a suspicion it may have been Tom Peters.