My name is Eric Brown and I&#x2019;m here talk about Storytelling for Knowledge Management.
I&#x2019;ve been researching the topic of Storytelling as a means to convey knowledge in projects using digital tools. While my main focus has been on project teams, this could be applied in areas outside of project management.
Before we dive into the topic too far, let&#x2019;s review what stories are and what they are good for.
In 2002, Sole & Wilson wrote a paper titled &#x2018;Storytelling in Organizations&#x2019; and described the use of stories in organizations.
They determined that stories were best utilized for: read bullets
In order for stories to work, they must (change slide)
read bullets. talk about vivid imagery.
Think about fables that you heard/read as a kid. (flip page)
episodic memory - something so vivid (and scarring?) that you remember it immediately.
talk about one minute manager - best selling book.
written in fable format...starts out with the introduction to a character, the quest and sets the reader on a journey.
stories work by making knowledge memorable via the &#x2018;availability heuristic&#x2019;...which is a fancy way of saying &#x2018;vivid imagery&#x2019; Let&#x2019;s look an example of vivid imagery: Everyone&#x2019;s heard stories of bear attacks. There are movies and books about bear attacks. There are even products for hikers and campers to keep bears away but there aren&#x2019;t many &#x2018;moose-b-gone&#x2019; products. Which one is more likely? A bear attack or a moose attack? (click slide) We remember the stories of vicious bear attacks because they are more vivid, therefore we tend to think they are more regular activities than moose attacks.
mean looking yogi bear was an anomaly - but....how many people die each year because they thought of yogi bear when they see this animal?
talk about cuteness, bullwinkle
imagine my surprise!
I was within 20 yards of a moose...and I knew they were more dangerous than a bear...i set the world record of the 20 yard dash up a hill by a fat man!
So...let&#x2019;s move on to projects and knowledge in projects.
last slide on storytelling
1st bullet - makes act of capturing knowledge have a lower priority during a project
2nd - project managers and leaders do not focus on these efforts
read & talk about slide.
talk about types of knowledge in projects.
Process Knowledge: knowledge that project team members have regarding the project Domain Knowledge: knowledge that a project team or member has about the industry, technology, processes, current situation, business and products Institutional Knowledge: knowledge that a project team or member has about the organization. Cultural Knowledge: knowledge about the organizational culture as well as cultural backgrounds of the project team members.
I&#x2019;ve been working on a storytelling model that incorporates digital means of collecting and sharing narratives.
When a new team member joins the project, they are asked to answer a series of interview questions using journaling / blogging software. These questions are added to their history.
Each member keeps a weekly journal. These are reviewed at weekly meetings. the journals entries are combined into weekly learning histories.
Weekly histories are combined into the Project Learning history which tells the story of the project. Learning Histories are based on Roth & Kleiner&#x2019;s work.
Each team member writes about lessons learned during the week and comments on learning history (internalization).
Storytelling for Knowledge
Management in Projects
November 5 2009
Eric D. Brown
STORIES - WHAT ARE
THEY GOOD FOR*?
Developing Trust & Commitment
Generating Emotional Connection
* D. Sole and D. G. Wilson, "Storytelling in Organizations: The power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations," Harvard Graduate School of
WHAT IS A GOOD
A good story contains:
A Character or Characters
Some level of Detail
Stories must have context and focus.
Stories must be memorable to be effective.
Stories make knowledge more memorable via
Example: Little Red
world is dangerous
not everything is as it
MODERN FAIRY TALES
One Minute Manager by Blanchard and Johnson
Book starts with the following sentences:
Once there was a bright young man who was looking for
an effective manager.
He wanted to work for one. He wanted to become one.
LEARNING VIA STORIES
Stories make knowledge more memorable via the
Something that is vivid and memorable will be
Reverse availability heuristic:
Make things vague, abstract or uncomfortable if
you don’t want them remembered or used.
Storytelling is suggested as a means to build a shared
knowledge-base for organizations
Storytelling can be used to
Build a shared understanding
Make sense of past actions
Provide for future vision
KM IN PROJECTS
traditional PM is overly concerned with
efﬁciency and effectiveness of project team
knowledge needs of future projects isn’t within
the context of the current project requirements;
KM IN PROJECTS
Owen, Burstein & Mitchell (2004) - “knowledge
gained in a project needs to be transferred to an
organization’s memory for reuse in other projects”
Kasvi, Vartiainen, & Hailikari (2003) - knowledge
management practices were “weak and
unsystematic” in project teams
KM IN PROJECTS
Leseure & Brookes (2004) -
Knowledge is generated within one project and
then lost. Failure to transfer this knowledge…
leads to wasted activity and impaired project
KNOWLEDGE TYPES IN
Reich (2007) - Four types of knowledge in projects:
STORIES & KM
So...we know that we want to create stories with
vivid imagery, a plot, characters and a reason for
people to read.
We also know what types of knowledge we want to
share / capture in projects.
How can we share knowledge across teams while
minimizing impact on team member’s time?
Can we use stories to share knowledge across project
teams (and organizations)?
What types of project knowledge best ﬁts the
Step 5 - Documenting
Step 1 - Capture
Member Step 2 - Craft
Questions the Story
Step 3 - Telling
Weekly the Story
Step 4 - Internalizing
First step - how can we capture knowledge?
Lots of tools but what’s the best way?
Why not use the tools people are already used to
Email, IM, Blogs, Wikis, Twitter & other Social
CRAFT THE STORY
Step 2 - Story crafting
using snippets of information from users, how can
we build a story?
Plot. Backstory. Characters.
requires a very experiences story-crafter / story-
TELLING THE STORY
Step 3 - Storytelling
How do we tell the story?
provide stories as electronic versions for people to
read and search for?
Step 4 - Internalization
How can we ensure the user has taken the right
knowledge from the story and internalized it?
Require journal entry about ‘what i’ve learned
since last time’?
Step 5 - Documentation
Entire process is electronic.
Stories, user snippets and project info is searchable
and hold metadata (tags, keywords, etc)
all information & knowledge is available to any
Quick case study run with good outcomes
How to validate moving forward?
How to capture information?
How to build stories effectively?
Additional avenues for further research:
Research into best methods for capturing stories.
What types of questions are best for gathering
How do we get people interested in sharing
How does KM ﬁt into the formal world of PM?