Energizing Organizational Learning through Narrative #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Dr. Madelyn Blair, President, Pelerei

Session Description: Narrative intelligence is a critical approach that helps an organization to strengthen its organizational vision, enhance communication, share organizational knowledge, externalize and internalize tacit knowledge, encourage innovation, build communities, and to develop effective social media strategies. The speaker shares strategies, cases, and exercises on how using narrative intelligence through channels offered by social media and organizational communication can energize how the organization is communicating through digital channels.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Sense-making is Key: There’s nothing more frustrating and de-energizing than feeling confused. In our lives, we like to make sense of things. “Turning experience into a story is a fundamental mode of sense-making.” When you listen to a story you become connected to it.  This opens up the possibilities of narrative becoming a learning tool. 
  • What’s Narrative Intelligence? It’s about how you approach a problem, using a mindset that understands that a story is the smallest unit of knowledge (to quote John Seely Brown). “It’s the search for the meaning that does not confuse.”
  • Narrative vs Story: Story concerns a specific event. Narrative is a collection of stories. In that collection, you can begin to see the patterns that exist across the stories. Through a collection of stories, you can imbue an organization with specific values. For example, at the Disney Company, they tell many stories about Walt Disney. These stories are all about creativity, imagination and entertainment.  They are also about making a difference and doing it well. Employees feel empowered by the stories. This is how the people in the company share and reinforce their company values. In effect, the stories create communities of practice.
  • Structure: Each story needs to answer some basic question –  who, how, why, when, where and what happened.  This is necessary to engage the audience. Narrative looks for common threads, emotions, values. While the story helps the storyteller make sense of a specific event, a narrative helps people within an organization with broader sense-making of the larger patterns.
  • Solve Problems by Turning Stories Inside Out: Start by identifying the business problem you want to solve. Put that “in the middle” of  a story that you’re about to create. That problem is the “what.” Then add to the story to provide the other elements (who, why, where , how, etc.). This helps identify possible solutions.
  • Want to learn more? For further information, see Making it Real: Sustaining Knowledge Management, edited by Annie Green.

Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑