Story is critical, or why tabletop roleplaying made me the quality professional I am today

I’ve written before on how storytelling is a critical skill. The ability to take data, take the events of the past and transform it into a coherent narrative is central to the quality profession, and frankly just about every other job out there.

This week I got one of my favorite compliments. We were working to take a series of events and shape it into a coherent narrative to explain what had happened, why we could be confident of the results, and how we had improved over time. And one of my co-workers had commented on how much they were learning from this process, and another responded that of course I was good at this because I was a gamer. And I was just tickled pink.

I make no secret of my hobby. My Twitter feed, for example, is one part geek, one part quality, one part politics. Search for me in google (and who doesn’t google search their coworkers?) and you’ll see gaming stuff on the front page. And in this day of working from home, my background is a bookshelf crammed full of games.

And I do think I am, to a large amount, the quality professional I am today because of that gaming background. There are many paths within quality, and this is part of mine.

Some of the things I’ve learned as a gamer include:

  • Storytelling skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organization skills
  • The ability to “think on your feet”
  • Humor
  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Fairness
  • Knowledge of rules and how they work together in a system.
  • How to use visual aids, pictures et all
  • Paying attention to everyone, giving everyone a chance to be heroic
  • Conflict resolution skills

Which as a list definitely feels like the core of the profession.

So, fellow gamers in quality, next time we actually meet face-to-face at a conference, let’s find a little time to meet each other at the table.

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