Insights for developing successful storytelling in modern organizations
Rossana Karunaratna (short-story writer) LLB, LLM
Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero (Head of knowledge management, GMI S.A)
What do organizations
have to consider in order
to develop storytelling?
A storyteller. It would be remarkable to find a storyteller in every corner. However in organizations this does
not happen. Storytelling is an art which must be taught. Some may have it naturally, others need assistance
in order to do it.
Having a story to tell is only just one part of the equation. Even the top most senior leaders may have trouble
getting their story across if they don't connect with their audience, fail to use the correct language and get
people to credit their story.
3M's storytelling training plan for leaders is a leading business example.
The story. Stories have to be aligned to the organization's objectives and value preposition.
This is why a previous process is required in which the organization must analyze it's
critical knowledge needs, innovation and productivity requirements, strategic goals, etc.
The following steps are to identify the right people to convey the stories and measure
impact of learning. This requires a detective like-work in order to secure that stories are
actually embracing real life problems and situations.
You need an audience willing to receive knowledge. why should people take time to listen?
Freedom to choose content is synonym of modern communication, thus how can organizations
really engage people? Link stories to performance management (measure people for listening, if
it's important they ought to) make stories part of career pipelines and link competencies to
The underlying issue is culture and promoting a learning oriented environment.
BA is the Greek term for space, and in knowledge management it was coined by Nonaka
in order to describe the shared space where people come together to co-create knowledge.
Whether it's physical or virtual, organizations have to secure an adequate BA, create open
spaces where people are encouraged to come out and share what they know, whilst securing
that the knowledge transmitted is registered so that it may become a renewable source of
The virtual space for storytelling is empowered by networking. It only exists through us and when we share a
story we contribute to its existence , transforming the way we convey stories. The oral tradition is given a new
life through a combination of voice, images and new speakers. Different tools can give us feedback and
information of how far the story went in terms of distance and cultures. A successful story will get “viral”
relying not only on the quality of the storyteller and the story itself but the audience who will assume a very
active role in the outcome.
In this manner, audience co-creates the story! expanding the knowledge transmitted originally. This kind of
content is powerful and identifying it may provide a additional source of key lessons learned, innovation
possibilities, experiences, etc. however, providing just the space will not guarantee success.
Interaction by itself is
not a meaningful story
Stories must be steered and
linked to the organization's goals
Look for valuable content-not just create
conversations and expand on the story.
Be quick to tap into valuable experiences and
share them with the rest.
See who else has a story to tell. Bring them in.
Community managers are essentials. Ba does not
manage itself. In organizations certain rules must
exist in order to avoid "social grapevines"
“If you are going to have a story, have a big
story or none at all”
– Joseph Campbell
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