Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Knowledge Managers Can Learn from Story Corp

Story Corp is a non-profit oral history project that captures interviews between friends, and families to preserve individual perspectives on the American experience. At the end of the session the interviewee(s) receive a recording on CD and (assuming proper release is received) the recording is also archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  (The stories are also shared on Weekend Edition on NPR and on the Story Corp website.

Story Corp is an amazing project on many levels: it is an excellant example of non-profits partnering with government institutions to provide services, it captures minutiae that can be lost in "big" historical accounts, and it shows that communication (after breaking through all the communication tools) essentially comes down to a human connection.

The goal for any knowledge management program parallels Story Corp yet rather than only preserve the experience the organization wants to leverage the ephemeral knowledge created through employee experience to improve their processes and training. Any knowledge management program can learn some best practices from Story Corp to help increase participation:

1) Access: Story Corp leverages recording booths (such as in grand central terminal), and mobile recording studios (airstream trailers with recording equipment) to help their make it easy for participants to share their stories. Organizations need to make the process as painless as possible. They need to provide venues for sharing stories and knowledge that is harmonized with the busy schedules and demands placed on key principals and stakeholders.

2) Facilitation: The Story Corps website provides a questions list for interviewers and for their Door-to-Door service Story Corp provides two trained facilitators to ensure the recording process goes smoothly.  Any knowledge management program has to have a designated contact points to help particpants navigate the process (and also "sell" the contribution process). Simply having the document management system or online repository is not enough.

3)Support: The interviews for Story Corps are preserved in the Library of Congress. A knowledge management program needs to have policy for collecting, storing, and maintaing access to the captured knowledge. Knowledge creation is an organic process and the knowledge management team should always be working to capture new stories to build on their current catalog.