I have been asked to contribute a chapter to a new book on narrative and am still developing my ideas. In doing so I asked myself what ‘interventions’ I might recommend to an organisation looking to maximise its use of narrative in order to maximise knowledge sharing. Here are my first thoughts:
- Initiate a variety of narrative based events (‘experiments’) aimed at allowing people to personally see the benefit of a narrative approach. These can be introductory workshops, project reviews, lunchtime talks, celebrations etc.
- Maximise the opportunities for natural knowledge sharing and chance face to face encounters eg stairwells, corridors, photocopy/printer rooms, tea/coffee points, bird tables, coffee tables etc. This must be seriously considered when designing new buildings or moving to new premises.
- Lead by example. Newsletters, blogs and twitter can all be used to share knowledge in the ‘ideal’ form of personal recollections/reactions/perspectives especially when there is positive outcomes to share eg “we have just over achieved XYZ , and I felt so great when …”
- Ritualise anecdotal time/opportunities into existing processes eg regular slots at meetings, progress reporting and conferences.
- Feedback. Make sure you ‘big-up’, acknowledge, congratulate and where appropriate reward any initiatives aimed at using narrative or improving communication and knowledge sharing.
All of the above are consistent with the idea that an organisation is a complex adaptive system hence the provision of appropriate starting conditions, facilitation of emergence, seeding of attractors and nurturing/reinforcement by way of feedback.