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Storytelling and Knowledge Sharing

September 22nd, 2006 by Graham Attwell

Storytelling – KM toolkit: inventory of tools and techniques – Knowledge Management – NeLH Specialist Library:

I.m writing a paper with Ray Elferink on an ‘Architecture of Participation’ for the Blogtalk conference in Vienna.

Part of the paper is trying to explain our ideas about how to use Web 2.0 tools and social software to support knowledge development but at the same time trying to show the background research which our work is resting on. This includes Activity Theory, research into Communities of Practice and Storytelling.

Searching the net for resources on storytelling ( which are remarkably sparse) I came on this great web page published on the UK national Health System’s Knowledge management Library:

  • Stories communicate ideas holistically, conveying a rich yet clear message, and so they are an excellent way of communicating complicated ideas and concepts in an easy-to-understand form.Stories therefore allow people to convey tacit knowledge that might otherwise be difficult to articulate; in addition, because stories are told with feeling, they can allow people to communicate more than they realise they know.
  • Storytelling provides the context in which knowledge arises as well as the knowledge itself, and hence can increase the likelihood of accurate and meaningful knowledge transfer.
  • Stories are an excellent vehicle for learning, as true learning requires interest, which abstract principles and impersonal procedures rarely provide.
  • Stories are memorable – their messages tend to ‘stick’ and they get passed on.
  • Stories can provide a ‘living, breathing’ example of how to do something and why it works rather than telling people what to do, hence people are more open to their lessons.
  • Stories therefore often lead to direct action – they can help to close the ‘knowing-doing gap’ (the difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it).
  • Storytelling can help to make organisational communication more ‘human’ – not only do they use natural day-to-day language, but they also elicit an emotional response as well as thoughts and actions.
  • Stories can nurture a sense of community and help to build relationships.
  • People enjoy sharing stories – stories enliven and entertain.”

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