Friday, December 08, 2006

Story triggers

One of the concepts in knowledge management that interests me is that of storytelling. I haven't really written about storytelling but it’s something that I read a lot about and it is one of my issues to read more about. One of the articles that I have read recently is “Stories at Work: Story Triggers” by Larry Todd Wilson and Pamela S Daugherty (1999).

In this article they identify a reservation that I have always held about storytelling as a KM tool and that is whether it is always the most appropriate format. Many articles about storytelling would lead you to believe that it is the panacea of KM but Wilson and Daugherty’s article proposes some “triggers” that indicate where storytelling is an appropriate format. So what are the triggers?

Trigger 1 – New or unexpected situations
  • Are you working with an unfamiliar situation?
  • Are you introducing a new concept or process?
  • Do you need to communicate the latest “news” about a person, place, or event within the organisation, or to the world outside the organisation?
  • Have you discovered a better way?
  • Have you experienced an unanticipated outcome or response to something you did?
Trigger 2 – Situations that require engagement of feelings, as well as thoughts
  • Do you need to facilitate acceptance of a new person within a group?
  • Do you need to remove barriers to action?
  • Do you need to persuade someone?
  • Do you need to help someone overcome inertia?
Trigger 3 – A complex situation
  • Are you dealing with a situation that contains many variables, or variables that track along several paths?
  • Do you need to help others bridge the gap between theory and practice?
Trigger 4 – Is this a situation in which you need to help others understand “why?”

On the whole, I’d agree with these triggers as ones that would indicate an appropriate time to use storytelling as a tool – especially trigger number 2. But are there more?

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