The knowledge-based organization:
Using stories to embody and transfer knowledge
In The Secret Language of Leadership and his other books , Steve Denning explains how a simple story could communicate a complex multi-dimensioned idea, not simply by transmitting information as a message, but by actively involving the listeners in co-creating the reality of the idea in the context of the particular organization where the story was being told. Their active participation as listeners helps reinvent the organization and create new identities for the organization and themselves. In this way, the story embodied the concept of knowledge management, and was able to transfer knowledge.
The experience of using the oral culture of a modern organization to embody and transfer knoweldge has antecedents in the past:
"Stories hold, in their narrative layers, the sedimented knowledge accumulated by our progenitors. To hear a story told and retold in one's childhood, and to recount that tale in turn when one has earned the right to do so (now inflected by th patterns of one's own experience and the rhythms of one's own voice), is to actively preserve the coherence of one's culture. The practical knowledge, the moral patterns and social taboos, and indeed the very language or manner of speech of any nonwriting culture maintain themselves primarily through narrative chants, myths, legends, and trickster tales - that is, through the telling of stories.
David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: page 181
David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997