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Un-learning to move forward

Posted 5 years ago in Xero news by Sue Pak
Posted by Sue Pak

No matter where you are around the world the same principles apply to learning and making the most of your software. For some, learning new technology is easy, for others there’s some “un-learning” of familiar software – especially if you’ve been using it for a long time.

Recently we held a global training summit with our regional training managers travelling from UK, US, and Australia to join the NZ training team. There were 11 of us in total gathered together to learn and share ideas from our collective relevant experience of 145 years. Our common goal was to make the learning experience for both partners and customers as valuable and interactive as possible.


Across the week we covered a wide range of content and shared common experiences. One comment from our training managers that really stood out was that many people imagine that Xero will work much like their old desktop system. This was echoed around the world.

So why is this? There are different brands of accounting software in each market and we all get used to doing things a certain way and make assumptions that are not about accounting, but rather are based on how the software works.

Desktop accounting software has not changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Sure it was great at a point in time, but it hasn’t progressed at the same rate as the technology around it. Many accountants, bookkeepers and business owners have used a particular desktop package for a long time and have become well accustomed to it’s quirks and limitations – even justifying their “old technology” because it is familiar.

We recognized during the global training summit that our training courses involve as much “un-teaching” as they do teaching. Sure it’s a new system and it’s really intuitive and easy to learn but it’s often the un-learning that is challenging. For example, some course attendees are puzzled by Xero credit notes. There are two ways to create a credit note – one from scratch, which we’re all used to, and another where the system replicates invoice data for you and you simply enter the date! Too easy, saves you time … but it’s different.

For some the move to the cloud is scary and for others it’s simply unfamiliar and they welcome the change. As with anything new, there’s a period of readjustment, re-aligning of thinking, some sort of learning curve involved. It’s comforting to know that across the world, the same thoughts arise; How easy is it? How long will it take to learn a new system? If you’ve been procrastinating about switching to the cloud, give it a try – I’m sure there are many people across the globe who can comment further on their experiences of making the change.

If you are using cloud technology, I’d encourage you to check out our training courses – we’re always learning and you may even be challenged to un-learn some things and find there is an easier or quicker way.

The Xero training team have developed a series of starting out videos called Business Essentials, and our training partners offer many more detailed courses.

If you’re a Xero partner, there are standard partner courses available and our training partners also offer advanced one-on-one education.



Cassandra Scott
May 6, 2013 at 5.23 pm

A great article by Xero on sometimes how we need to “un-learn” before we can move forward.

I’ve been using Xero for just over two years now, and openly admit that my greatest challenge at the beginning was forgetting how I used to do things in my old desktop based software. Once I got my head around “un-learning” the new learning became an absolute breeze and opened my brain up to all sorts of opportunities. Sometimes extant systems can form a paradigm in our minds that makes it difficult to move from.

One of the key messages I pass onto people that ask me about using Xero, is that they have to forget about how you do things in your current system, and start work out what result you want to achieve. Its just a small change in mindset, but the results that it brings are large.

Tina Kaye
May 6, 2013 at 9.16 pm

Brilliant blog Sue.

Such a great point about un-learning! Xero is not just new software using the same old systems, Xero has turned bookkeeping systems upside down!

Instead of being about process it’s all about building long-term logic into the system so that the focus can be on the important financial information!

Nicola Wilson
May 7, 2013 at 1.05 am

Great blog Sue.

I’ve always thought of this process as re-thinking but you’re right, it is a process of un-learning so that you’re open to thinking about processes in a different way. Breaking familiar habits.

Once you realise Xero can achieve what your goal, it’s a case of being open to a new way of working, embracing the easier, simpler approach and enjoying getting the same jobs completed much quicker.

Maree Maxfield
May 7, 2013 at 2.19 am

As you have said Sue, coming from an existing accounting system often means ‘unlearning’ certain ways of doing things. I have found however, that those who have used other accounting systems, very quickly pick up any new concepts or ways of doing things in Xero. The focus is often about how that learner likes to learn and in the case of software, I am finding this is often through ‘doing’ or practical case studies.

Gayle Buchanan
May 7, 2013 at 8.50 am

Hi Sue, totally agree, makes for a much better training experience for the SME’s – thanks Xero for such an awesome training team. Especially Sue’s sense of humour, you are a star.

Jeri Murphy
May 7, 2013 at 10.30 am

One of the big a-ha moments I discovered last year, after years as a trainer, is to teach by relating what the student already knows to what they don’t know yet – whatever you are teaching them. I train many people in the UK now from Australia and I haven’t seen Sage in over 10 years. When you know what they have been doing, you can relate the new ways to use Xero, Unleashed or any of the add ons – as long as you understand the process they are currently using, the outcome required and how to use system you are teaching them inside out.

Thank you so much Xero for creating such a great product to use, encouraging and supporting the ecosystem, and changing businesses across the world. The training resources you have created excel over the rest of the desktop and cloud market and set the standard. Love your work, Sue and the Xero team.

Sue Pak
May 7, 2013 at 6.40 pm

Thanks for your comments ladies.

As you know, we are passionate about Xero and about training so that people get the most out of their system. Our mission is always to de-mystify and explain in simple steps plus point out comparisons – the “old way” vs the new (as Jeri points out)

Douglas Sleeter
May 9, 2013 at 5.29 am

Good points here Sue. As change leaders, we need to be translators for people who have their “ways of working.” We must translate how they work today into how they’ll work in the new world. This one of the biggest challenges we face every day at The Sleeter Group. Experienced people who don’t feel their pain often don’t have much of an appetite for changing their behaviors. It’s a process… Thanks @xero for making great software that shows people these new ways of working efficiently.

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