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 to ignite change: Steve Denning
The starting point for change

   This is a story about the World Bank. And when I look back on the situation in February 1996 when I started thinking about knowledge management, we had essentially nothing in place. No top management support, no mission statement, no strategy, no organization, no budget, no incentives, few communities, no technology, no measurement, in fact none of the things that you need to launch and implement a knowledge management program.
   I sometimes ask business school classes: “What are my chances? Given this situation, what the probabilities of successfully launching knowledge management in this organization?” and they always answer: “Practically zero.” 
   And in a way they are right. 

   An objective assessment of the situation would show that there was no hope.
   But four years later, all of those things were in place. Management support. Mission statement including knowledge sharing. A knowledge sharing strategy. The organization. The budget. The incentives. Over a hundred communities of practice. The technology. A measurement system. All of the things that you need to make knowledge management happen were in place four years later. So there has been quite a significant change in making this happen.

The World Bank

   All this occurred in the World Bank, which is an international organization, headquartered in Washington D.C. aimed at reducing poverty in the world’s poorest countries. It has been a lending organization for its entire life. It lends up to 30 billion dollars a year, run on commercial lines.
   And the World Bank is a notoriously change-resistant organization. Some consider even as the Mount Everest of change-resistant organizations. You think your organization is tough? 
   Well, try change at the World Bank. Just to give you an illustration. In the mid-1980s, the President of the World Bank came from being head of the Bank of America, where he was voted “Best Manager in America”. He came to the  World Bank and tried to launch change. He left after five years, really without even making a scratch on the place. He went back to become once again head of the Bank of America, where he was once again voted “Best Manager in America”. So you see, it’s not enough to be the “Best Manager in America”. It really is a very difficult place to change.

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 
The views expressed on this website are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of any person or organization
Site optimized in 800x600: webmaster CR WEB CONSULTING
Best experienced with