Tribal knowledge and the use of stories in training managers

By William Seidman

Tribal knowledge is important, and important to the work of training managers.  Seth Godin explains it here (the video is 12 minutes long).  The transmittal of tribal knowledge was on our minds at the International  Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI)’s annual meeting earlier this month in Orlando, Florida. I attended a presentation by Jon Revelos . The focus of the training was the use of stories in training. There was a great discussion about the value of story-based learning  when holding and delivering critical tribal knowledge. In the presentation, we talked about ways to show the value of a narrative to management by emphasizing positive deviant stories. Positive deviance  stories proved increasingly valuable because they are richer in content and have a more direct connection to performance. We also talked about the use of stories when motivating and sustaining responses, which effectively connects stories to impact.

Jon is now driving a compliance training program — these can be pretty dry. He is looking for ways to bring stories into compliance training. Again, positive deviants are an opportunity because they treat compliance as a fundamental tool to achieving a greater social good. All of this is consistent with our work with positive deviance, and it was an altogether interesting and exciting presentation.


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