Stories – just for kids?

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Everyone likes a good story. We all know the story of Adam and Eve….I could tell you the story of how I got my first job and I would be interested to hear the story of how you fell in love. The age old tradition of story telling is as relevant as ever and I believe an underutilized tool for knowledge sharing and communications.

Still, in some circles, the use of story telling techniques are getting peoples’ messages heard. Moreover these people are facilitating the changes they want to see. A leader of narrative in the KM world, Steve Denning, uses the example of Al Gore. From 2000 to 2006 he managed to shift his ‘narrative’ to one that has inspired millions of people to start believing climate change is real as well as make him a transformational leader more broadly.

I am increasingly convinced of the benefits of story telling. In our 21st century cyber toolbox, Blogging is probably one of the simplest story telling tools for sharing knowledge. When I explain KM concepts like peer assist, the only way people really grasp it – is through stories of its use and impact. The story at the beginning of this video I made for a local project illustrates how getting peoples’ attention, stating clear goals and providing an emotional connection – key elements of a good story- all contribute to inspiring active change.

In 2006 I attended a knowledge management workshop in Brighton where we were asked to define KM. The response by a Swiss practitioner has stuck with me. He said, “Who did you talk to this week and what did you learn?” Upon reflection, I think he was asking for a story!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Stories – just for kids?

  1. Once upon a time there was a young woman. She was filled with ideas on how to change the world, excited about learning’ and yet something was bothering her too. She also loved to play, especially in the snow.

    One day she decided to sit and think about important things. Maybe she would even write things down or make plans. She began to do this, but when she looked out her window she saw so much snow that she couldn’t concentrate anymore, even with three cups of coffee and the blinds closed.

    She dressed quickly, ran out the door, grabbed her GT Racer, leapt upon it and flew down the hill, through the town, down the mountain like a flash of blue light, and eventually arrived at the edge of the river.

    She had to hitch hike back up the mountain to reach her house and it took until dark. She walked in, warmed up and got ready for bed. Next to her bed, on top of her book was a small card. On the card this was written:

    Dear young woman,

    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

    Your friend,
    Plato

    The young woman brushed her teeth and went to bed. She dreamt of snow.

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