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Story Management Technologies for Organizational Learning

Andrew S. Gordon (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA gordon@ict.usc.edu)

Abstract: The stories told among members of an organization are an effective instrument for knowledge socialization, the sharing of experiences through social mechanisms. However, the utility of stories for organizational learning is limited due to the difficulties in acquiring stories that are relevant to the practices of an organization, identifying the learning goals that these stories serve, and delivering these stories to the right people and the right time in a manner that best facilitates learning. In this paper we outline a vision for story-based organizational learning in the future, and describe three areas where intelligent technologies can be applied to automate story management practices in support of organizational learning. First, we describe automated story capture technologies that identify narratives of people’s experiences within the context of a larger discourse. Second, we describe automated retrieval technologies that identify stories that are relevant to specific educational needs. Third, we describe how stories can be transformed into effective story-based learning environments with minimal development costs.

Keywords: Storytelling, Knowledge acquisition, Natural language processing, Information storage and retrieval, Simulation-based learning environments Categories: M.0, I.2.7, H.3.3, L.5.1

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Story-Based Organizational Learning in the Future

Imagine that you, several years from now, are far from home conducting some business for your organization. Perhaps you are a businessman negotiating a new contract with a company in your supply chain, or perhaps you are an international aid worker trying to establish a clean water supply in an impoverished region. The work is gruelling, but is always interesting. The rapid pace of change brings you new experiences that you never expected when you first trained for this job, constantly forcing you to improve your skills in new areas. Keeping in touch with your colleagues back home is a priority for you. Each night, when both time zones are reasonable, you use your smart-phone to socialize with others in your organization - to tell them about the bizarre event that happened to you that day, or simply to hear the latest office gossip.

As usual after a long phone call, your smart-phone has some questions for you. In listening to the conversation you were having, it noticed that you told some new stories - different in some way than the sort of stories that it has heard from you in the past. It plays back some of the audio of these stories for your review. Listening to yourself tell them, you find that many of these stories are narratives of the personal encounters you have had on your journeys. However, some of them are specifically about the job you are there to do, ones that you would be happy to share more broadly

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