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Power of Story (free PDF version)

Power of Story (free PDF version)

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Sense making comes from son’s Persian Gulf experience.

By John and JoAnn Girard.

For several years, we have had the great pleasure of speaking to groups of organizational leaders about knowledge management.

Specifically, we speak about how leaders may reap the benefits of creating and sharing organizational knowledge. www.smartpeoplemagazine.com
Sense making comes from son’s Persian Gulf experience.

By John and JoAnn Girard.

For several years, we have had the great pleasure of speaking to groups of organizational leaders about knowledge management.

Specifically, we speak about how leaders may reap the benefits of creating and sharing organizational knowledge. www.smartpeoplemagazine.com

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Published by: Smart People magazine (FREE ARTICLES) on May 15, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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06/16/2009

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     L     I     V     I     N     G
LIVING 
1
 
SMART PEOPLE 
Power of story
Sense making comes from son’s Persian Gulf experience
By John and JoAnn GirardFor several years, we have hadthe great pleasure of speakingto groups of organizationalleaders about knowledgemanagement.Specifically, we speak about how leaders mayreap the benefits of creatingand sharing organizationalknowledge.This journey has takenus to destinations across theUnited States and Canadaas well as Europe, Asia,South America, Africa andAustralia.In fact, Antarctica is theonly continent where we havenot spoken about knowledgemanagement – we await aninvitation!Over theyears, ourtalks havechanged.Initially,we spokeabout rathercomplex cognitive theorieswith the hope folks in theaudience would take ourwords of wisdom and single-handedly transform theirorganizations.After many sessionsof watching yet anotheraudience grin politely aswe delivered our sermon,we realized that we werecontributing to one of thecommon themes of our talks– information overload.As it turns out, muchof what we were talkingabout was simply lost in thetranslation.At first, we wondered if itwere the
audiences because it
certainly could not be us!After each presentation,we would spend hoursanswering emails fromindividuals with questionssuch as “I really enjoyed yourtalk; however, I am not reallysure how to implement theideas you were discussing.Do you have any examples of these ideas in action?”After many nightsof responding to similarquestions, we realized(finally) that we were makingthe whole thing seem verycomplicated.We began to respond toquestions with short storiesthat illustrated the point wewere trying to make. One daywe had an epiphany: why waituntil after the presentationto share these stories? Wedecided to transform our talksinto a series of stories thatexplained the (unnecessarily)complicated theories we weredescribing.The story that follows isone of our favorites.Not that long ago, ourson, John, was servingaboard a Canadian warshipin the Persian Gulf, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.His ship was part of alarger formation known asthe USS George WashingtonBattlegroup, aptly named because the lead ship in thegroup was the aircraft carrierUSS George Washington.All total, there were sixships in this futurist flotilla,each of which was in constantcontact with the mother ship.Gone are the days where shipspass in the night withoutnotice. Gone are the dayswhen ships rely on semaphoreor even radios to stay incontact.In fact, today’s modernwarships are one the best examples of virtualcollaboration in action. Eachship is inextricably connectedto the remainder of the flotilla.At the personal level,technologyplayed animportant role
in ensuring our
son was able tostay connectedwith hisfriends and family back home.In modern navies, thishomeward- bound connectionmay be as important as theinterconnectedness of theoperational ships. Though itmay be true that Napoleonarmies could “march onfood,” today soldiers, sailors,and airmen and women areprobably more concernedabout staying connected thanthey are about the quality orquantity of their food.If you are in doubt, simplyask a soldier if he or she wouldrather have a MRE (meal readyto eat, which is actually an
Gone are the days where ships pass in the night without notice. Gone are the days when ships rely on semaphore or even radios to stay in contact.

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