Storytelling : A Kueh Lapis Story Influences Decision Making

A group of government officials have come up with an idea, to launch a website that informs traveller’s coming into Singapore what they can and can’t bring into the country. They are required to present this idea to senior officials for a project sponsorship.

Thier presentation begins with explaining the problem. The problem statement is projected on the slide


For people travelling into Singapore there is no single source to find out what they are allowed to bring into the country.

After establishing the problem statement they started showing the prototype of the website they have developed.

There is a problem with this approach. What is it? 

Now, as an audience, I am thinking

– I am sure we can google this information.

– Is Bringing into Singapore Items policy so complex that I need a website for it? Can’t be…

These thoughts mushroom in to the audiences’ head and become a distraction

Here is how we changed the presentation.

The presentation started with a scene at Singapore Customs which was projected on the screen


A gentleman named Richard is crossing customs and is asked by the customs officer to open his bag. Richard boarded the flight from Jakarta. Customs officer finds 7 Kgs of Kueh Lapis ( a steamed layered cake ) in Richard’s  bag. Richard is informed by the customs officer that he is not allowed to bring 7 kgs of Kueh Lapis into Singapore. Richard is shocked to hear that.

At this point, the presenter asks the audience to use thier mobiles and find out if this information is available online. Of course, no one could find it quickly. And that is how we demonstrated the problem versus state the problem.

Demonstration combined with Storytelling often leads to great outcomes.

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Why the QR Code? The answer is in the request below we received from a regular blog reader.

"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"