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If Narrative is a way of 'collecting' and 'disseminating' tacit knowledge

Flickr picture: Automat's: Work Currently Not In ProcessWhy don't we approach those that use "storytelling"as a way of life to assist us with this?

Those in the Knowledge Management (KM) world, whatever that is ... nope, I can't really decide whether it's a real world or one made up by my own desires. Anyway, those that express and interest in KM use a variety of methods to help organisations 'manage' their knowledge. The ultimate goal is to move these organisations from ones that are reactive and passive to their environment to those that are known as "learning organisations".

One of the fun things with 'knowledge' is that it isn't information. It isn't something that you can readily (i.e., in one lifetime and with ease) turn into information that these lovely computers easily use. In fact computers act upon 'data' which an even more granular level to information so we're really stuffed.

What to do? We can wait for computers to catch-up, get faster, cleverer and be able to leap tall buildings in a single CPU cycle. The issue there is that this may never happen as knowledge is a fundamentally human one and computers just ain't gonna get it - not, I believe, in my children's lifetime. Knowledge is information seen with/through everything else you have in your brain - circumstance, context, mood, filters, cultural perspective, natural predispositions ...

So, we use computers (almost exclusively) to record/analyse information but knowledge isn't just information - what to do?

A solution has been proposed that we use "narrative techniques" to distill the essence of the knowledge that can then be shared around - the Cynefin Centre are amongst the leaders in this path.

The use of narrative within KM (and, in fact, counselling/therapy) has been something that resonates deeply within me. As you know I live my life as stories and therefore it's easy for me to connect with both the theory and the practice.

Today (stick with me here, it is relevant) was the official welcoming of the ex-Banks Peninsula council staff as the amalgamation of Christchurch City Council and Banks Peninsula Council comes into effect. There was the official powhiri in the CCC chambers (which are open the public if you ever wanna come and hear your representatives natter on - ground floor, Civic Offices, 163-173 Tuam Street) and as the speakers waxed lyrically on it struck me that the Maori culture has an oral tradition and that they are natural storytellers (not ALL but you get my drift).

From that I had the question, "Why don't I engage with Maori? ... Heck, why don't I engage with professional storytellers (Peter Jackson, Lynley Dodd, Pio ... )?" These are people that know instinctively how narrative engages us, what brings us in, what doesn't share, what closes a connection, what does and doesn't work.

So why not talk with them! And so, once I have a more defined framework about what I really want to get out of talking with these (and others of the "storytellers" ilk) I will approach them.

BTW: Narrative isn't the be all and end all. I believe that it is one KM 'technique' that can be used to tackle the challenge we have. Another is Social Network Analysis (to give it its nasty scientific title) - story's die with they're not heard and so it's through networks (communities, social groups - formal and informal) that the knowledge travels.