Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling
June 2004, Jossey-Bass
How to bring about change
How to communicate who you are
How to transmit values
How to foster collaboration
How to stop rumors
How to share knowledge
How to lead your organization into the future
The author explains the purpose of the book and the process by which it came to be written.
1 Squirrel Inc.: How to Craft a Story to Spark Organizational Change 3
Diana is an up-and-coming executive at Squirrel Inc., an organization in decline. She seeks guidance from a bartender on how to persuade the organization to change. She learns, in nine steps, how to craft a story to communicate a complex idea and spark action.
2 Diana Tells Her Story: How to Perform the Story to Spark Change 25
After initial success with her story at Squirrel Inc., Diana returns to seek further guidance from the bartender on how to enhance the performance of her story.
3 Save Squirrel Inc. Night: Seven Types of Organizational Storytelling 41
After the success of her story with the managing committee of Squirrel Inc., Diana joins employees to explore other ways in which storytelling can help address the challenges the firm is facing.
4 Whyse's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Reveal Who You Are and Build Trust 49
Whyse shows how storytelling can enhance communication in corporate environments by communicating who you are.
5 Hester's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Get Individuals to Work Together 59
Hester shows how storytelling can be used to get individuals working together. She presents five steps to craft a story for nurturing a community.
6 Mark's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Transmit Values 69
Mark shows how stories that are told and retold in a organization, particularly about the organization's leaders, transmit the organization's values.
7 Mocha's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Tame the Grapevine 79
Mocha shows how humor can be used to harness the power of the informal network of communication in an organization and to tame the grapevine by neutralizing rumors and bad news.
8 Howe's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Share Knowledge 89
Howe shows how the sharing of knowledge takes place through a particular kind of narrative.
9 Sandra's Story: How to Use Storytelling to Create a Future 101
Sandra shows how future stories—visions, business models, scenarios—help organizations move into the future. Meanwhile Howe reveals some unexpected developments within Squirrel Inc.
10 Howe Upsets the Acorns: How Individuals and Organizations React to Change 115
The discussion in the bar now turns to what will happen next at Squirrel Inc. Will the old way of doing business triumph? Or will Squirrel Inc. carry through with the change? The characters explore these and other possibilities.
11 The Journey of a Leader: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leadership 127
As the continuing tale of Squirrel Inc. unfolds, the characters encounter a variety of surprises and Diana goes on a journey.
12 The Return to Squirrel Inc.: Living the Story as Well as Telling It 143
We learn the impact of storytelling on Squirrel Inc. and on Diana herself.
Seven High-Value Forms of Organizational Storytelling 150
The nature, form, and purpose of seven high-value kinds of organizational storytelling are compared, in a table.
Further reading 169
Write to the author 177
About the author 181
“…This charming little book holds many secrets within its attractive covers….” (City to Cities, Jan/Feb 2005)
“…clearly encapsulates both the why and how of seven types of organisational storytelling”. (Knowledge Management, September 2004)
“…makes serious points about leadership and change…” (Financial Times, 29 July 2004)“Squirrel Inc. is a wonderfully refreshing look at leadership that contains countless insights on how stories create meaning and can inspire even cynical management to act. This book is both provocative and evocative. It’s central message kept resonating in my head for weeks after reading it. I highly recommend this book¾and it is a great read, as well.”
--John Seely Brown, former chief scientist, Xerox Corp; and director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
“It is hardly a nutty idea that narrative is a useful
means of transferring knowledge from one human—or squirrel to
another. Steve Denning’s wonderful story about stories is a
unique way to tell a fundamental truth about how organizations
improve their performance.”
--Thomas H. Davenport, President’s Distinguished Professor, Babson College and Accenture Fellow
“I’ve witnessed the power of narrative in my work
and life, but I haven’t had the tools to effectively employ
story when I’ve needed it most. Denning’s book provides
the ‘how to’ for which I’ve been
--M. Gary Ryan, director, Brand Development and Strategy, People Magazine
“Steve Denning is one of the most imaginative knowledge
practitioners around, so it isn’t surprising that he’s
produced a charming and illustrative fable about organizational
life (among other things). Read it and grow wiser in the ways of
squirrels and men!”
--Larry Prusak, coauthor, What’s the Big Idea and Working Knowledge
“The success of a leader can best be measured by how many
who actually followed. In the management literature of today, we
are overestimating the more rational dimensions of leadership and
underestimating the importance of how to craft a story that
attracts the fullness of human desire. Steve Denning's work is an
important reminder and great inspiration to all leaders who wish to
connect with their employees on all the human dimensions required
to create true followership.”
--Mats Lederhausen, managing director, McDonald's Ventures, McDonald's Corporation
Buy Both and Save 25%!
Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling (US $24.95)
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