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

Top down does not work

   And the same thing with issues like top-down approaches to knowledge sharing or information sharing. Forget about it! . People share in these communities, and these communities will form, if you give people enough bandwidth, enough connectivity. With enough time, space and technology, they find each other. It’s a much more effective way of doing things.
   And a real lesson we’ve all learned is that communities are the place where norms get enforced, not from top down, not from bottom-up. They’re enforced in small groups. Groups. You can call them “communities”. You can call “thematic groups” or “communities of practice” or communities of interest” or “communities of action”. 

There are about thirty or forty different terms that have been around since the late 19th century, by the way.
    All of which talk about a natural human inclination to band together, to group, somewhere between 30 and 50 people at the low end, and maybe 300 at the top end. 
    I just read this book last week called “The Tipping Point”. It’s a very good book. Has anyone read it? Yes? You like it? Isn’t it terrific? He takes some of the findings of evolutionary psychology and says, “Well, that sort of sized group is some of the original homo sapiens banded into to capture their food and band together, maybe two or three hundred people. And then he goes further and says that there are experiments in cognitive psychology. You can’t know more than two or three hundred people. None of us can. You can be acquainted with more. You can’t know more than two or three hundred people, which makes sense to me. 
    Anyway, that’s usually the size of these things called communities in organizations that self organize. And when you try to organize these groups top-down which computer and engineering organizations like to do, it never works! It doesn’t work effectively. 
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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