The success story

The amount of knowledge we have gained in general decreases in value as time goes on, in a globalized world constantly changing, making this knowledge museum pieces worthy of consideration but not usable in our daily lives.

This globalization which presupposes evolution increases the need to generate new knowledge, but not exclusively explicit knowledge, maybe even more tacit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is the knowledge more difficult to express, either because it is so new and unknown or because it is so deeply rooted in our practices that we are not even aware of it.

But knowledge retained in our precious silo, has no purpose if it is not transferred and disseminated and is healthy to think this assertion as valid both for the individual and the organization.

Although some argue that knowledge retained in silos, whatever its nature, is a safeguard for company’s security in the face of competition, do not share, carries major risks for survival.

There are however companies who know the risks of isolation and outline strategies for knowledge management including its share.

One of the most fun and effective ways, to transfer tacit knowledge, is storytelling. The emotional charge contained in the stories causes the message to be integrated faster and deeper.

The stories stimulate our senses in all directions and a trust relationship is established between the counter and the receptor.

Storytelling is a natural thing, which does not present major difficulties and is fun transmitting energy to the whole audience. In a natural way too, complexity is perceived as well when we count and hear stories.

The pure analysis of facts does not convey the same level of confidence.

Building trust in the transfer or sharing of knowledge is fundamental to the development of individuals and organizations.

It may appear not to be very relevant the transmission of tacit knowledge but I think this need begins to be emphasized now that some rainfall paths of information begin to mix and confuse making explicit knowledge a “Big Data” as meaningless.

Tacit knowledge has a fundamental influence on the success of the innovation processes in companies and plays a vital role as a resource and success factor.

But it is important to remember that storytelling doesn’t always work well. Storytelling may not exceed the quality of the underlying idea that we want to convey. If we seek in a solid idea exceed the expectations that you are enrolled storytelling can be a disappointment.

Storytelling doesn’t replace the analytical thinking, but complements it because it is often easier to understand the data in the light of a story well told.

Innovation does not arise in companies like a recipe well described and ready to implement. The explicit knowledge is not enough to innovate. It takes creativity combined with tacit knowledge that is essentially personnel by nature and therefore difficult to extract of individuals in an organization.

Innovation requires an environment or context and a story well told.

A key element for the success of businesses when they intend to innovate is its ability to create a compelling story. Tell the story of their purposes and significance of their activity to engage their employees and build confidence.

“Trying to teach some things out of context means that only half of the information is observable (the mechanics and not the interpersonal subtleties).  This leads me back to the value of storytelling. The mistake we probably made in our class and the mistake I sometimes fear I’m making with clients is giving advice for which there isn’t a ready context…

I think the trick is having the right stories and knowing when to use them to illuminate or contextualize advice.  Stories that are quick and illustriative without sounding preachy.  The trick is also having the right forum to tell the stories in, because part of the value of the stories is the fact that they really are personal. –  Donna Fritzgerald

Storytelling can nurture trust among the various interlocutors of the processes of change, but once created this confidence, we must not disappoint the audience won.

Do you want to comment?



4 Responses to Once upon a time tacit knowledge, innovation and context

  1. Dear Jose Baldaia,

    Intersting subject and thought of sharing my views on it!

    Tacit knowledge is tacit not only because it either is so new and unknown or deeply rooted in our practices that we are not even aware of it but also because of inability of the right “langauge of expression”.

    Incedentally, most of us understands the langauge as speaking, reading and writing and that limits the context. Written or spoken words have specific contexts not only from the originator but also from the receiver perspective. Storytelling, help ‘commonalise’ this context within the originator & receiver.

    Trust helps in understanding / codifying the behavioural / unsaid expressions and hence in better diffusion of the meaning of storytelling. So in my view it is not only storytelling which build trust but also trust which help storytelling achieve its desired goal. And hence the relationship between storytelling and trust does not seem to be causal !! Trust is not an outcome of storytelling but a moderator in the processs of storytelling with “commonlising context” as an outcome !

    Do catch up at

    • Jose Baldaia says:

      HI Mansingh!
      Thank you for your comments!
      Yes! I agree with you when you say “it is not only storytelling which build trust but also trust which help storytelling achieve its desired goal”.
      It is in fact a precious reminder that I must thank you!

  2. Jose,

    So nicely explained, puts to shame so many explainations I’ve read and even tried to provide myself. As you say “I think the trick is having the right stories and knowing when to use them to illuminate or contextualize advice”


  3. Hemal Sanghvi says:

    Wonderful article and makes so much sense. However, as Mansingh stated – inability of the right “langauge of expression”. Can the language of expression be learned ? Can storytelling be learned ? Or is it an innate quality ? Would appreciate any comments. Thanks.

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