After my Dave Snowden grokking last week, I’ve been reading up on storytelling in KM. Bill Ives has some fantastic reading on this subject and I intend to read Steve Denning too. I was thinking this morning about how people have different niches and specialist talents. For example, I’m a better writer than I am a programmer or designer. And there are a lot of people who are better programmers or designers than writers. Or better talkers than writers. Or better artists than talkers.
I’ve always maintained that blogging isn’t for everyone and that applies inside corporate walls too. Blogs and wikis are not going to suit everyone in an organisation, so they’re not the perfect KM solution by any means. One way around this is to look for those 1 or 2 people in a team or group who are natural writers or have an interest in Web writing – and encourage those people to take responsibility for their team’s content. This is also the approach most companies take when running their Content Management Systems.
But I was thinking about an alternative approach. What if organisations hired a specialist writer, whose job it is to go around the different teams and elicit stories from people. That person would be a kind of journalist (but forget about the whole “are bloggers journalists” debate, that’s not important). The person I’m describing would interview team members and coax stories from them. Those stories would then be transcribed onto a team weblog – with all team members encouraged to comment on or add to the stories. The point is that there needs to be at least one person who knows how to spin a narrativeÖ write compelling content.
Once that narrative is “up there” on the blog – it acts as a springboard for the non-writers to contribute bits of content, eventually adding up to a store of knowledge about the organisation. Think of the writer’s narrative as a star, with the resulting contributions being planets that are created around the gravitational pull and life-giving energy of the star.
Just as there are specialist programmers and designers on Web teams, I think there is a need for specialist writers or storytellers to act as a Knowledge Management nexus for organisations. This is an idea I’m exploring for a business – where I set myself up as a consultant KM StoryWriter.
And yes it uses the same skillset that I’d need to write a biography of Web 2.0. I guess I’m exploring ways to fulfil my ambition to write stories for a living. The future of fiction is non-fiction – there’s very little market for novelists these days. I think there is a market for non-fiction stories – for example in the form of non-fiction books, or as a Knowledge Management tool in organisations. I feel I’m getting closer to finding my nicheÖ