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8. KM and Storytelling
ETL525 Knowledge Management Tutorial Three
19 December 2008
K.T. Lam
Last updated: 17 December 2008
Organizational Story
Organizational story is defined as a detailed narrativeof past managementactions, employeeinteractionsother intra- or, or extra-organizationaleventsthat are communicated informallywithin the organization. (Swap 2001) A story is understood broadly as averbalor writtendescription oftrue or fictional events, structured by aplot2005). (Sinclair
Organizational Story (cont.)
Stories will ordinarily include aplot, major characters, andoutcome. Amoral, orimplicationof the storyfor action, is usually implied if not explicitly stated. Stories will normally originate from within the organization and will thereforereflect organizational norms, values, and culture.
Source: Swap (2001)
Storytelling for KM
Storytelling is a powerful way tocapture tacit knowledge: Tools such asnarratives,metaphors, andspeaking figurativelyenable staff, to ‘put together what they know in new ways and begin to express what they know but cannot yet say’. Storytelling ‘trigger thingspictures, thoughts and associations in the listeners’ minds’, hencecreating learning.
Source: Davison & Voss (2002)
Storytelling for KM
Using storytelling ininformal teaching: Stories are used todramatizecritical skills, managerial systems, and norms and values common to many organizations. Stories are morememorableand are therefore more likely toguide behavior. Because of therich contextual detailsencoded in stories, they areideal carriers of tacit dimensions of knowledge.
Source: Swap (2001)
Storytelling for KM (cont.)
Using stories inorganizational communication: E-mails,Usual organizational communication is via: meetings, phone calls, text messaging (SMS), hallway discussions, training sessions, press releases, company newsletters, memos, Intranet, blogs. Stories are regarded as acommunication medium(a method or way of expressing something). Stories are useful forcommencing organizational changeandsharing knowledge, especially in situations where most communication fails, such as attempts to convey strategy, organizational culture or social practices.
Source: Sinclair (2005)
Storytelling for KM (cont.)
Verbal storieswould be best suited for communicatingcomplex or ambiguousmatters such as organizational change efforts or strategy. Written storieswould be more suited for communicating moderately complex issues, such as an organization’s vision, values or brand promises.
Source: Sinclair (2005)
Storytelling for KM (cont.)
Storytelling ofcritical incidents: Involve employees reliving in a structured way critical moments in the life of the organizationtalking therapyfor organizations. (Salis & Jones 2002) Group Discussion: Can you think of an experience or critical incident which you think you could enhance your colleagues’ knowledge by telling them a story about it?
Issues of Storytelling
Employees told morenegative storiesabout the company than positive ones. Circulation ofout-of-date stories. Story receivers (e.g. listeners) mayinterpret differentlyfrom what the story tellers intends to convey. When the storyconflictswith explicit statements, the tacitly conveyed moral from the story may well overpower the explicit message. (Swap 2001)
Swap,W et al 2001, ‘Using mentoring and storytelling to transfer knowledge in the workplace’,Journal of management information systems, vol. 18, no. 1, pp.95-114. Sinclair, J 2005, ‘The impact of stories’,The electronic journal of knowledge management53-64.1, pp 3, issue , volume Davidson, C & Voss, P 2002, ‘Knowledge management in action’ inKnowledge management: an introduction to creating competitive advantage from intellectual capital,Tandem Press, Auckland. Sallis‘What is knowledgeG (2002), & Jones, , E management?’ inKnowledge management in education: enhancing learning & education, Kogan Page, London.
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