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: Organizational Perspective: Larry Prusak
An enemy: The machine metaphor
     The last thing Iíd want to say about what kills knowledge in organizations is the machine metaphor. You run up against this constantly. 
      You know, metaphors are really important about how we live. Thereís a wonderful book by George Lakoff called Metaphors You Live By
     You can really understand a culture or a person by the metaphors they use. I mean, the terrible habit in American business and politics of constantly using sports metaphors, the competitive metaphors versus more cooperative metaphors, metaphors that are more about fighting each other competing and less about working together 
     You donít get that in other countries. But you get it big time here, It makes us strong in some ways, but itís self-defeating in others. Itís a two edged sword.
   Well, a machine doesnít need time. It doesnít need reflection. It doesnít need knowledge. A machine needs a little fuel, a little direction. Itís a terrible metaphor for anything that needs to react to a changing environment. If the environment changes, does a machine change? Even with the most clever cybernetic things, not really. It needs humans. And when the environment changes, organizations need to change.  It needs people. 
    The machine is a terrible metaphor. That was what re-engineering was about. It became such an evil force because it turns out to be computer scientist view of heaven rather than a rich understanding of how organizations work. And I think it ended up to be a disaster for America, and for the other countries foolish enough to follow us. But it didnít start out that way. But it became that way.
     I'd be happy to answer questions.
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 
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