04 June 2009

In my leadership class, a requirement for my Master’s program, we recently learned about how narrative storytelling can be used as a leadership or management tool. The trick is that the story should engage the mind of the listener not to entertain, but to instill some point. This is done by controlling the level of detail of the different narrative elements so that only the parts relevant to the lesson are focused upon.

For example, Steve Denning told a story to employees of the World Bank of how a doctor in Zambia found much-needed information about Malaria treatment by going to the Center for Disease Control website. He argued, shouldn’t the World Bank similarly make its knowledge-expertise available?

The story could have been filled with details of the doctor’s travails, but as the only important parallel to be drawn from the story is that making the information web-accessible, the other details are left up to the listener to imagine or not.

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