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Storytelling and Knowledge Management

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A presentation from a few years ago on storytelling but one I am proud of. Steve Denning and Dave Snowden are the principle inspirations.

A presentation from a few years ago on storytelling but one I am proud of. Steve Denning and Dave Snowden are the principle inspirations.

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  • Thanks. The real credit goes to Steve Denning and Dave Snowden's ideas of which this presentation is mostly a summary
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  • I think the message is dead on. You should be proud.
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  • 1. Storytelling and Narrative The Role of Storytelling in Knowledge Sharing and Organisational Change 29-31 May 2002 KM Champions in Africa Knowledge Management Workshop Maputo, Mozambique
  • 2. Story.. a definition
    • Story n., pl. –rie
    • A narration of a chain of events told or written in prose or verse
  • 3. People live and act narratively… … as individuals “ I am a respected professional” “ I am a mother” “ I am progressing in my career” “ I have been passed over” “ I am an important part of the organisation I work for” “ I am a faceless cog in a bureaucratic machine”
  • 4. People live and act narratively...
    • Asteriod B-612
    • 1909
    • International Astronomical Congress
    … with others The Turkish Astronomer … Grown-ups are like that
  • 5. People live and act narratively... “ unless we have the critical tools to understand in which story we stand, our praxis runs the risk of prolonging not only the problem but the problem story. Often a problem will be solved only by dissolving the story” -Alastair Macintyre, After Virtue … in organisations My organisation is transforming the lives of others. The management talk about change but they don’t live it. Young people get no encouragement in my organisation.
  • 6. Stories for Organizational Change
    • Seeking buy-in for Knowledge Management at the World Bank
    Steve Denning – World Bank
    • Discovered storytelling by accident
    • Has since sought to crystallize the process of storytelling for change
    • An unlikely storyteller
  • 7. Steve Denning 12 Steps to a Springboard Story
    • What change are you seeking?
    • Think of an incident where the change was in part or in whole implemented
    • Who is the single protagonist in the story?
    • Is the single protagonist archetypal for your specific audience?
    • When did the incident happen?
    • Where did the story happen?
    • How fully does the story embody the change idea?
    • Can the story be extrapolated to more fully embody the idea?
    • Does the story make clear what would have happened without the change idea?
    • Has the story been stripped of unnecessary detail?
    • Does the story have an authentically happy ending?
    • Does the story link to the purpose to be achieved in telling it?
  • 8. Stories for Analysis and Planning Dave Snowden – IBM
    • Complex Adaptive Systems
      • Organisations are too complex to understand from a mechanistic point of view
    • Narrative Databases
      • Stories hold the key to bring out the truth in organisations
      • Storytellers don’t need special expertise
    • Emergent Knowledge
      • We imagine we follow a more logical path than we do
      • Retrospective coherence
  • 9. Example: Merger of two large pharmaceutical firms. Ask questions like: “Your daughter is an eco-activist. How do you convince her to work for your firm?” At a workshop, have staff watch random samplings of stories and bring out archetypal themes / characters. Have graphic artists render images of the archetypes.
    • Creating fables of the organisation
    • Scenario planning
    • Understanding problem
    • Mapping the future
    Give 250 people each a digital video camera Have them each interview two people who represent the future and the past of the organisation Capture the results in a narrative database containing video, audio, and text The Cynic The Young Idealist
  • 10. A typical scenario… Listen to what I have to say about Knowledge Management! Ho hum.. same old strategy, new name Another consultant telling us what to do….great I wonder if I can get away to check my email.
  • 11. A storytelling approach… Let me tell you a story about a network in Nang Rong, Thailand. Hmmm… we could probably do that with our project in Kenya. We do some of those things already, perhaps we could adapt some others. That would never work for us but it gives me an idea of soemthing we could try.
  • 12. Storytelling is an act of co-creation
    • People want to own their own ideas and initiatives
    • 100% influence
    • = 100% isolation
    • King Midas
    • It is a loss of control…
      • … but the control was a myth in the first place
  • 13. Stories Occupy a Third Space
    • Longitude
      • by Dava Sobel
    • 18th Century
    • the challenge to find east-west location at sea
    • 20,000 pounds
    • John Harrison
    • The Astronomer Royal
    • 30 years
    • A petition to the king
    How often has your organisation behaved like the Astronomer Royal?
  • 14. Who is else is using Storytelling?
  • 15. Comments.. Questions… Reactions… Stories…
  • 16. Life in an Image – Group Work 1
    • Choose an article you have with you that has meaning or sentimental value. Something that is important to you. If you don’t have something, think of something you own at home which may not have great monetary value but is of great personal value to you.
    • Find a partner
    • Tell your partner why that object you have or are thinking of is important to you.
    • Have them tell you about their object that is important to them.
  • 17. Group work 2 Ben Okri – The Joys of Storytelling "stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals or nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations." "When we have made an experience or a chaos into a story we have transformed it, made sense of it, transmuted experience, domesticated the chaos" "Great leaders understand the power of the stories they project to their people," he writes. "They understand that stories can change an age, turn an era around". "Stories can drive you mad... Stories can heal profound sicknesses of the spirit". "To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself."
  • 18. Steve Denning 12 Steps to a Springboard Story
    • What change are you seeking?
    • Think of an incident where the change was in part or in whole implemented
    • Who is the single protagonist in the story?
    • Is the single protagonist archetypal for your specific audience?
    • When did the incident happen?
    • Where did the story happen?
    • How fully does the story embody the change idea?
    • Can the story be extrapolated to more fully embody the idea?
    • Does the story make clear what would have happened without the change idea?
    • Has the story been stripped of unnecessary detail?
    • Does the story have an authentically happy ending?
    • Does the story link to the purpose to be achieved in telling it?