The Story of Knowledge: Writing Stories that Guide Organisations into the Future


  • John P Girard
  • Sandra Lambert


storytelling, organisational change, knowledge management


Many organisational gurus highlight the value of oral narrative or storytelling as a catalyst for organisational change or a way to share knowledge. Tomes of articles describe seasoned raconteurs single handedly inciting enormous transformation in organisations. Oxymoronically many written works are describing the power of oral narrative. Surely these printed exposés are themselves motivators for change; so why the continued emphasis on the face‑to‑face storytelling? There is no disputing the fact that oral narrative is a powerful form of communicating; however, it is not always feasible. In fact, there are times when the written word packs a more powerful punch. Often it is simply not possible to catch the ear of a wide audience simultaneously, or even at all. Many people simply will not take time from their busy schedules to listen to stories. Busy executives seem to prefer the written word to the spoken. In these cases, the power of the pen offers a persuasive substitute. This is a tale about such stories in action, each of which seemed to sow the seed of change. Of course, time will be the real test; however, anecdotal evidence seems to support the proposition that well‑written futuristic stories provide an excellent alternative to face‑to‑face oral narrative. At least in these examples, the written story proved to be a motivator for organisational change and an effective way to share knowledge. This paper is about the use of narrative to share knowledge; it is part tutorial and part theory. Building on the foundational knowledge developed by Denning, Snowden, Prusak, and others this paper describes the "how to" of effective storytelling to create and share knowledge within organisations.



1 May 2007