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

Storytelling: Scientist's Perspective: John Seely Brown
    What I would like to do is to throw out some ideas. I want to create some evocative objects to think with, as opposed to giving you a very formal type of a talk. I think there is a smattering of ideas here. Some of these will connect with you, and some of them won’t, but I hope that there will be something of particular interest to each person here. I can guarantee that it won’t be the same thing. So this is meant to be a set of idea sparkers
     I have become interested over the last couple of years about how in fact you actually capture and leverage knowledge without killing it. It is easy to become over-zealous in trying to capture it, with the beautiful advantage of killing everything. It is also possible not to pay enough attention to capturing anything, and so you lose all the value. There is a tricky balance. In fact, it goes right back to the notion of organizational architecture, that I will come back to, near the end of my talk.
   And so what I would like to do is start out with a little bit about the context in which we all find ourselves and the accelerating pace of change. And then the key is survival in this kind of confusing world. Everybody here knows about communities of practice but I want to talk a little bit more about that, and come back to learning, to knowledge ecologies, to pick up some of what Steve was talking about yesterday, about a potential fundamental paradox in knowledge management, and a new notion, extending Dorothy Leonard’s notion of creative abrasion in terms how we want to structure our enterprises in order to create the right kind of a balance between stimulating knowledge and losing knowledge. 
Knowledge management in the U.S. and Japan
    In effect, I found it very interesting, recently, and I think various folks here realize that in the US, there may be a waning interest in knowledge management, just about the same time that when you go to Japan, you find that there is a very interesting movement starting up in Japan. That is that a couple of decades ago, Japan decided to really focus on, and paid very close attention to, Edward Deming and the total quality management movement. And that is what they used to rebuild their entire country. And what is happening today is a shift from a focus on quality to a focus on knowledge. And can you really think through knowledge management, as a way to rebuild the country, not just the enterprise? And so I think you’re going to see increasing emphasis coming out of the East on these types of topics.
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 John Seely Brown 
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