Networks & Narratives Networks & Narratives

Models and theories from disciplines like complex adaptive systems should be deployed in this regard, Davis and Alleyne recommended. Organisations like IBM’s Cynefin Centre have developed classifications of knowledge work into categories like known, knowable, complex and chaotic, focusing not just on storytelling but on narrative analysis for collaborative sense-making and decision-making inputs. Tools like participatory observation, anecdote circles, deep immersion, organisational metaphors and naive interviews are useful in this regard.

Storytelling is used to promote knowledge sharing at NASA, via Transfer Wisdom Workshops and Project Management Shared Experiences Program conducted by the Academy of Program and Project Leadership (APPL).

In terms of narrative structuring, tools like ‘knowledge blogging’ (or k-logs, a term coined by John Robb, president of Userland) have a lot of potential. Stories are a good framework for sharing information, meaning and knowledge. Blogs encourage story-telling and foster understanding because they usually offer context,’ according to Darlene Fichter, library coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan Library.

‘Knowledge blogs help encourage brain dumps, exploration, and think-aloud behaviour. They create connected content, break down silos, allow comments, and can also be treasured as useful searchable archives,’ she observed.

Besides, over time, blogs are self-rewarding. ‘Often bloggers report that they discover their own interests and refine their perspectives. It leads to peer recognition,’ according to Fichter.

Klogs are also a useful, low-cost and flexible tool for competitive intelligence (CI), said Arik Johnson, managing director of Aurora WDC. Well- designed CI blogs can help collect, analyse, package, and deliver current awareness and early warning of competitive and regulatory developments for sales staff and top managers.

Blogs help write thought pieces to guide the organisation on a strategic path. Bloggers can collect and connect information and provide useful overlays of context. ‘Blogging has enough critical mass and momentum, and will soon be integrated with other KM tools,’ predicted Johnson.

Monitoring, metrics and measurement are important requisites to understanding the effect of KM networks and narrative databases, but companies often confuse technology, process, knowledge, employee and business metrics.