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How KM is Driven Through Business Storytelling

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How KM is Driven Through Business Storytelling

Jan 22, 2023   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Michael Sequeira

For years, it has been proven that Storytelling helps audiences connect with a Brand. Storytelling has helped products connect with diverse audiences by enabling them to emotionally connect and become loyalists. Leaders have used Business Storytelling to Humanize a Business and increase profits, which in turn helps establish the values and messaging, creating a sustainable business model. Now, how can Knowledge Management learn from Business Storytelling and if we are already using it effectively, do we identify with some of its elements?  Let’s find out.


There are 5 elements of an Effective Business Storytelling framework; let's correlate these to our 5-C KM Roadmap.

Circumstances (Communication Strategy)

Each conversation in KM can be a different story, and as Knowledge Managers we engage with Leaders, Delivery Teams, and New Hires with have different knowledge needs but fail to recognize these as different plots. Each user has a very different circumstance on how KM can impact their need. Many times as Knowledge Managers we fail to go deep and want to go wide, and rely on our proven KM framework to deliver results for our teams and report ways KM is benefiting our communities. However, the result is our users fail to acknowledge how KM is enabling them, as they have not been engaged by us as KM Professionals. Is having a strong Communication Strategy the key?  Let’s find out more from KMI Blogger Amanda Winstead, who calls out 5 ways of Building effective Knowledge Management through Communication, to ensure we can deliver improved outcomes.  The key takeaway is to contextualize knowledge and encourage more open dialogue, which encourages networks to make people help each other and who are passionate to share their Critical Knowledge.

Curiosity (Critical Knowledge)

Curiosity is the most important element of Storytelling. Today, users want instant gratification and often it's the realm of the unknown as the need and the outcome are different. So, as Knowledge Managers how are we to develop these users into believers? We can definitely start with defining what is Critical Knowledge and speak to Leaders and Experts, and engage our teams to ensure we are defining it correctly. The larger question is how do users get access to this knowledge and acknowledge that it’s truly benefiting them and their KM Needs? This is where Communities of Practice, Lessons Learned Practices and other proven techniques help engage users and influence behaviours so users accept these proven methods each time they are looking for something.

While there are a host of KM Tools, Mind-Mapping is a great tool to understand the diverse user personas and reasons impacting KM Adoption. It’s important that we don’t exclude KM Teams, Leaders and IT/HR teams enabling in sharing Critical Knowledge.  Below is a simple graphic of Play-in-Action that is a great starting point to develop a Content Strategy.

Characters (Content Strategy)

Every Story has to have relatable Characters. Often, if a user looking for something they know in their subconscious mind then they form a Connection that helps them want to participate in the experience. 
Often Knowledge Management is narrowed down to just Collecting Content and building a heavy Knowledge Management systemic processes to keep it up to date. We fail to go beyond and KM is embedded in the organizational practices and slowly begins to demonstrate tangible value and align to what matters to the business. We need to draw a fine balance and be seen as People Leaders, and then make systemic approaches work to Collect Knowledge that can be aligned to our Content Strategy. It’s also important to not reinvent KM Best Practices and acknowledge teams who are practising KM in different ways that the methods or tools we are suggesting.


Conversations (Culture)

A story should be capable to evoke emotions and your audience will Share-It.  Imagine if our user community shares the impact that KM has enabled through expanding organizational networks. As Knowledge Managers, we should practice Conversational Leadership and ensure KM is aligned to the Culture Setting of the organization. We should shift our own behaviours from providing answers to developing systemic thinking to enable our leaders to explore critical issues and encourage our teams to participate and ask more questions. KM Tools/Systems have to be seen as Collaborative Social Technologies that facilitate this process and cannot be done away with. The ultimate goal is to guide collective intelligence towards effective action, ensuring capacity development of leaders to believe in KM as a platform to drive change.

Conflicts (Change Management Strategy)

A Story is incomplete without a Conflict that encourages the audience to think of possible options to solve the plot. Many times leaders fail to acknowledge KM and it’s seen as an overhead many strategic KM initiatives fail. It’s important as leaders / KM practitioners that we continue to align and capture KM Success Stories and align them to Organizational Metrics and make these visible. These Knowledge Nuggets will help our community of users see value and invest in showcasing how KM is a value-enabler within their teams. The goal is to go enterprise-wide but most initiatives fail as they fail to create unique business cases that KM can resolve. 

In –Summary to Put it all Together

People seek our great stories as much as food and water. Leaders for years have used Business Storytelling to improve their narrative on how they augment business value to organizational performance. As Knowledge Managers we enable them through our Conversations and support embeds a Cultural shift mind-set. It’s often that no two Circumstances are the same, and this is where the disconnect happens as the leaders see Conflict with KM and hence don’t develop the believers' mindset to support the KM team. It is during these times that an effective Change Management Strategy has to be enabled where we capture Knowledge Nuggets and share with our user community, resulting in Success Stories being showcased linked to organization performance.

Finally, as we align to KM Maturity and there is acceptance, we as Knowledge Managers need to ensure we continue to define user personas and don’t limit it to discounting our known experiences for developing Critical Knowledge. It’s important we are seen as important Characters and create avenues to recognize KM practices that are enabling teams to share passionately and practice continuous learning. It’s important we bring our own Curiosity to each Conversation and indulge our community to develop organizational ethos of being Conversational Leaders and enable teams to ask critical questions and aid in improving the collective intelligence. The final goal is to help our leaders in Capacity Development helping our leaders to believe in KM as an enabler for Change,

Disclaimer: This article is based on my own experiences and is my personal views. I hope you enjoyed reading it and this would help you investing in reading more on how KM.


About the Author: Michael Sequeira is an independent consultant who is passionate about helping organizations discover how KM can be a key differentiator for their business, teams, and clients. If you would like to learn more about his background and get-in-touch you can connect with him on LinkedIn



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