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 explanatory power of storytelling 

    But you might ask, “How could this possibly work? How could a 29 word story like the Zambia story that I just told you, how could that 29 word story possibly convey to you a 16 dimensional concept like knowledge management? That’s one-and-a-half dimensions per word. Surely that’s not possible?”
   And if you take the standard view of communications, developed by Roman Jakobsen some forty years ago. The standard view of communications runs something like this. I am talking to you. So my head must be full of stuff. So you are sitting there silent, listening, so your heads must be empty. And the object of my communication is to download the stuff which is in my brain into your empty 

 heads. In other words, some kind of computer dump. 
   There is only one thing wrong with this picture. And that is that it is total nonsense. I don’t happen to have all the answers to the questions to give to you. And even if I did, I couldn’t transmit them to you in the time that I have available. 
    In fact, something quite different is going on. Your heads are not empty. Your heads are full of all sorts of understanding about how the world works, where Pakistan is, what highways are, what the world wide web is. All of those things you have in your mind. And all I need is a tiny fuse of a story that can link up with all of this tacit understanding that you have in your minds, and if it succeeds in igniting that understanding, then suddenly a new pattern of understanding can flash into your mind, and you can suddenly see how the world fits together in quite a different way from what you had been thinking. A new pattern of understanding emerges in your mind.
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)

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The views expressed on this website are those of Stephen Denning, and not necessarily those of any person or organization
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