Beyond KM; Luis Suarez Blog; Types of Narrative

23-Mar-06 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Books

Beyond Knowledge Management by Brian Lehaney, Steve Clarke, Elayne Coakes, and Gillian Jack

Provides a balance of conceptual and practical aspects of Knowledge Management, offering the opportunity for students and practitioners to understand and effectively consider knowledge management approaches in their organizations. Everyday examples are used to lead the reader into the development of Knowledge Management, then further into a conceptual perspective, and finally to the practical application of Knowledge Management in organizations.

KM Links

elsua: The Knowledge Management Blog

Blog by Luis Suarez from the world of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities of Practice, Social Networking, and Web 2.0. Specific topics include remote collaboration in distributed/virtual teams, ways to foster and boost KM techniques, personal knowledge management, etc.

KM Questions

Q: What are the different types of narrative used in organizational storytelling?

A: Steve Denning has defined Eight Narrative Patterns:

  1. Motivate others to action — Using narrative to ignite action & implement new ideas: The challenge of igniting action and implementing new ideas is pervasive in organizations today. The main elements of the kind of story that can accomplish this — a springboard story — include the story’s foundation in a sound change idea, its truth, its minimalist style, and its positive tone.
  2. Build trust in you — Using narrative to communicate who you are: Communicating who you are and so building trust in you as an authentic person is vital for today’s leader. The type of story that can accomplish this is typically a story that focuses on a turning point in your life. It has a positive tone and is told with context.
  3. Build trust in your company — Using narrative to build your brand: Just as a story can communicate who you are, a story can communicate who your company is. A strong brand is a relationship supported by a narrative. It’s a promise you have to keep, that begins by making sure that the managers and staff of the organization know and live the brand narrative. The products and services that are being offered are often the most effective vehicle to communicate the brand narrative to external stakeholders.
  4. Transmit your values — Using narrative to instill organizational values: The nature of values includes the differences between robber baron, hardball, instrumental and ethical values, between personal and corporate values and between espoused and operational values. Values are established by actions and can be transmitted by narratives like parables that are not necessarily true and are typically told in a minimalist fashion.
  5. Get others working together — Using narrative to foster collaboration to get things done: The different patterns of working together include work groups, teams, communities and networks. Whereas conventional management techniques have difficulty in generating high-performing teams and communities, narrative techniques are well suited to the challenge.
  6. Share knowledge — Using narrative to transmit knowledge & understanding: Knowledge-sharing stories tend to be about problems and have a different pattern from the traditional well- told story. They are told with context, and have something traditional stories lack, i.e., an explanation. Establishing the appropriate setting for telling the story is often a central aspect of eliciting knowledge-sharing stories.
  7. Tame the grapevine — Using narrative to neutralize gossip and rumor: Stories form the basis of corporate culture, which comprises a form of know-how. Although conventional management techniques are generally impotent to deal with the rumor mill, narrative techniques can subvert neutralize untrue rumors by satirizing them out of existence.
  8. Create and share your vision — Using narrative to lead people into the future: Future stories are important to organizations, although they can be difficult to tell in a compelling fashion since the future is inherently uncertain. The alternatives available to a leader in crafting the future story include telling the story in an evocative fashion and using a shortcut to the future. Others include simulations, informal stories, plans, business models, strategies, scenarios and visions.