Storytelling 
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 in Organizations: Larry Prusak
II.H. Stories about life itself 

Participant: What do you think about mission and vision statements? (Laughter)

Larry Prusak: Another category of story is stories about life itself. Now Iím not an expert on life itself. In fact, I probably am deficient in knowledge in this area, given the way my own life has turned out. But very often, stories in organizations are about life, about children, about spouses, about love, about death, about parents. And itís another category. People learn about these things. You can read Ann Landers. You can buy books about it. But Iíve noticed that most people talk about issues in their lives. 

   Again, itís not to be self-dramatizing, and not so much to be narcissistic, but to get information. About aging parents, about children with issues, about matters of love and marriage. Itís a very common category. I think it shouldnít be ignored. It shouldnít be dismissed. Again, it makes the workplace a place where people learn about life. Itís where most people live their lives these days, as the workplace has in some ways replaced the commons, the church, the community, places we used to look for those sort of answers, for reasons that we canít go into here Ė I think there are social-capital type of reasons, as Bob Putnam has written  (Bowling Alone, 2000) 

   So people view the workplace as a place where you can learn about life, or can experience things about life, rather more than in the other venues where they used to learn this. 

   In the past, people would just go to work and come home and maybe talk to their neighbors. Or talk on the green. Or talk at church. Or talk in some civic association. That seems to be waning. So the workplace becomes the place where people talk and learn about little life stories, you might say, and the behavior in those stories.. . 

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 Larry Prusak 
The views expressed on this website are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of any person or organization
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