Passport to the 21st Century
John Seely Brown, Steve Denning, 
Katalina Groh, Larry Prusak: 
Some of the world's leading thinkers
explore the role of storytelling in the world

 I Introduction to storytelling I John Seely Brown on science I Steve Denning on change I Katalina Groh on video
Larry Prusak on organization I Discussion I | Contact us | Bibliography on storytelling

What do the presenters intend with this symposium?
 Steve Denning 

   What do we intend? Well, for one thing, weíre not going emerge from behind a curtain wearing long white robes and carrying a couple of stone tables, bringing some sort of futuristic message from a Higher Power. 
   We donít have any lock on knowledge. We have no magic crystal ball. We have no grand plan, any great scheme we see unfolding. And we've got more questions than answers.
   We have tried to create here is some kind of harmony of thought and word, idea and expression, that perhaps some of you will find probing, playful, provocative, occasionally insightful or once or twice even profound. 
   Weíre not so much interested in solving problems as we are in radiating possibility. Experimentation need not 

be plodding, somber, or heavy handed, but rather spirited and charming. Weíre exploring the possibility that practical value might co-exist with genuine artistic integrity, something to get excited about. We want a century that is more responsive to modern life.
   We are not trying to impose a new kind of narrative logic and structure on an illogical world. Rather, we are trying to weave together the threads that will make the world better. Where science can make progress and make a useful contribution, thatís beautiful. Where it canít it should step aside and let its sister contribute.
   We are not promising sugary outlooks just to make people feel good. We have a pragmatic angle of attack. We prefer what works. There are limits on the utility of abstract and traditional manner of attacking things. Narrative provides another mode of approach, that ultimately gets results.
   Weíre not opposed to science. What weíre trying to do is bridge the distance between science and story and still keep both sets of supporters on board. Very few thinkers have been able to do this. Itís as though the war has become religious, and if loyalty to one faction guarantees a negative reaction from the other. If youíre not for us, youíre against us. The defense of science has become strident, with all the bulldozing, bullying tactics reminiscent of the Inquisition. The accomplishments of science, as well as its crimes, can be ticked off a list. The attack on narrative has been equally ferocious.
   We cannot pretend to be comprehensive, instead just a little bit suggestive, a hint, an inclination towards the direction of change.
   We donít necessarily agree with each other. We may spark some new insights from the clashes that ensue. We havenít had time to explore every nook and cranny of each otherís beliefs.
Books and videos on storytelling 
*** In Good Company : How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work
by Don Cohen, Laurence Prusak (February 2001) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid
(February 2000) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Springboard : How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations
by Stephen Denning (October 2000) Butterworth-Heinemann 
*** The Art of Possibility, a video with Ben and Ros Zander : Groh Publications (February 2001)
Copyright © 2001, Stephen Denning, 
The views expressed on this website are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of any person or organization
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