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Stephen Denning – Squirrel Inc: A Fable About Leadership Through Storytelling (re-up)

Squirrel Inc — A Fable About Leadership Through Storytelling [4CDs (MP3)]
[4 CDs (MP3)]

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This is the Re-Up from the CD’s (not the book.)
(Nobody was seeding this one for a long time now)

You can find the book here:

General Information
Title:                  Squirrel Inc. A Fable About Leadership Through Storytelling
Author:                Stephen Denning
Read By:                L.J. Ganser
Copyright:              2004
Audiobook Copyright:    2004
Genre:                  Speech
Publisher:              Recorded Books, LLC
Abridged:              No
Thanks:                 Rockaflicker

Original Media Information
ISBN:                  1419304178, 9781419304170
Media:                  CD
Number:                04
Source:                Library
Condition:              Very Good

File Information
Number of MP3s:        63
Total Duration:        3:54:58
Total MP3 Size:        155.33
Parity Archive:        No
Ripped By:              ME
Ripped With:            EAC
Encoded With:          LAME 3.97 -V 4 –vbr-new
Encoded At:            VBR 90-96 kbit/s 44100 Hz Joint Stereo
ID3 Tags:              Set, v1.1, v2.3

Book Description
This book deals with leadership. It’s about how you can use the magic
of narrative to lead from wherever you are and handle the principal
challenges facing all leaders today:

 · how do you persuade people to change?
 · how do you get people working together?
 · how do you share knowledge?
 · how do you tame the grapevine?
 · how do you communicate who you are?
 · how do you transmit values?
 · how do you lead people into the future?

Whether you are in an organization or a concerned citizen, these are
among the most difficult – and significant– leadership challenges. To
deal with them, there are few other usable tools.

Of the thousands of books published on the subject of leadership, only
a few have hinted at the connection between leadership and storytelling.
Even those writers who made a beginning dealt with storytelling as a
peripheral issue. None grasped the centrality of narrative to leadership
and communication or systematically spelt out its multifaceted dimensions
and methods.

Here finally are leadership tools that actually work.

In my interactions with executives in scores of large organizations,
I have seen how easily and quickly people can enhance their natural
storytelling capacity, once they grasp that storytelling is not some
kind of a primitive toy that needs to be replaced by the sleek computer-guided
instruments of modern analytical thinking. Storytelling is in fact at
the core of the significant activities of every modern corporation,
as well as at the center of everything we do in public and private life.
The ability to tell the right story at the right time is emerging as
an essential leadership skill to cope with, and get business results
in, the turbulent world of the 21st century. It’s also a critical capacity
for personal interaction and happiness with family and friends.

A recent Booz Allen review concludes that “perhaps the most powerful
role of stories today is to ignite and drive changes in management policy
and practices.  Stories that spark change  springboard stories  were
introduced in my book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action
in Knowledge-Era Organizations,  which told the remarkable story of
transformational change in the World Bank. This refreshingly different
message is now spreading throughout the world.

· Part One of this new book gives detailed advice on how to craft and
perform a story that can spark transformational change in an organization.

· Part Two shows how to deploy six other kinds of storytelling that
are of high-value in an organizational context. Each chapter demonstrates
and explains how each different kind of story is crafted and told.

· Part Three illustrates the impact of storytelling on our work and
personal lives.

Since writing The Springboard, I noticed that storytelling is important
not only for leaders to spark a change, but for anyone who needs to
tell the organization’s story or work with a team toward a vision or
share knowledge or harness the rumor mill. I saw how different narrative
objectives have different narrative patterns associated with them. I
observed how using the wrong form of story for a particular purpose
generally led to an unsuccessful result. And so I set about creating
the tale of Squirrel Inc. that would show how understanding the different
narrative patterns could help people find and tell a story that would
get them to their objective.


Needless to say, when this book talks of storytelling, it isn’t talking
about fairy tales or the traditional stories that are told to children.
It’s talking about the sort of stories that are told in organizations
on a day-to-day basis throughout the world by busy executives to achieve
real-world objectives.

Some of the stories that occur in organizations are close cousins of
traditional stories, which of course have a long history. The principles
of traditional storytelling were described several thousand years ago
by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, in his Poetics. These are stories
that have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and a plot with characters
that combines a reversal and a recognition; the storyteller visualizes
the action and feels with the characters so that listeners immerse themselves
in the world of the story.  Fictional examples can be found in the tales
of Ovid, Scheherazade, Boccaccio or Mark Twain, the hero’s journey described
by Joseph Campbell, or in the popular cinema.  This traditional type
of story is still relevant to some purposes in a modern organization,
such as communicating who you are (discussed here chapter 4), or getting
people working together (chapter 5) or transmitting values (chapter

This book is also about other types of narratives identified by practitioners
who have looked beyond the principles of traditional storytelling. Rather
than examining how stories ought to be told, they have studied the narratives
that are actually being told in organizations in terms of the purposes
that they serve and the impact that they have. Although non-traditional
stories don’t always comply with Aristotle’s principles of storytelling,
they include some of the most valuable forms of storytelling in a modern
organization. Among them are springboard stories that communicate complex
ideas and spark action (discussed here in chapters 1-2), stories that
tame the grapevine (chapter 7), stories that share knowledge (chapter
8) and stories that lead people into the future (chapter 9).

The tale of Squirrel Inc. thus deals with both traditional and non-traditional
storytelling in organizations. It sets out to clarify which kind of
story makes sense in which context and why. It aims at both demonstrating
and explaining those differences, so that readers will be more likely
to find and tell stories that will accomplish their objectives.


Squirrel Inc. is a fable about squirrels. Why squirrels?

When I came to write this book, I had to consider the question: how
could I best communicate the similarities and differences between various
kinds of stories and their uses in modern organizations? I quickly discovered
that conveying an understanding of seven types of stories across four
or five different dimensions represented a level of complexity not well
adapted to textbook-style presentation.

As a proponent of storytelling to communicate complex ideas, it was
natural that my thoughts turned to narrative. Over the centuries, animal
fables have successfully communicated complex messages to diverse audiences.
Aesop and La Fontaine did it with a menagerie of animals, Franz Kafka
with a cockroach, George Orwell with pigs, James Agee with cows, James
Daniel Quinn with a gorilla and Spencer Johnson with mice.  This book
employs squirrels.

Squirrels sparked my imagination in several ways. Some years ago, I
was reading that wonderful compendium of statistics known as Harper’s
Index and I noticed an oddball figure. It was the percentage of nuts
that squirrels lost because they couldn’t remember where they had buried
them. I had forgotten the exact number, but it was remarkably high.
The fact, if not the number, stuck in my mind as I watched families
of squirrels run about my garden and I thought of the huge numbers of
nuts that they were continually losing. This book tells the story of
the transformation of an imaginary organization called Squirrel Inc.
from a nut-burying to a nut-storing organization. We follow the transformation
as it goes from an improbability (chapter 1), a possibility (chapter
2), a probability (chapter 3), a lost opportunity (chapter 9) through
to the conclusion (chapters 11 and 12).

The density of squirrels in Washington D.C. is among the highest in
the world. I have done much of my writing there from a room that looks
out over several gardens. From my window, I could see a large old mulberry
tree and it was remarkable how many squirrels played on its long wide
horizontal branches. From time to time, I would look up from my writing
and see countless pairs of squirrels gamboling and frolicking on this
tree with such evident pleasure, my spirits would lift. It was obvious
that the branches of the mulberry tree made a wonderful playground for
them. Then one day, I looked out the window and saw – no mulberry tree!
My neighbors had without warning cut down the tree! Since a mulberry
tree is a messy thing in a city garden, I understood their action, but
I was shocked on behalf of the squirrels. How would they feel when they
found that their mulberry tree had been cut down? The mulberry tree
story plays a major role in Part Two of the book.

Squirrel Inc. introduces a cast of furry characters who together learn
the art of storytelling in their quest to overcome obstacles, generate
enthusiasm and teamwork, share important knowledge and ultimately lead
their company into a new era of success and significance. Together,
the squirrels discover that the ability to tell the right story at the
right time can have a pivotal impact on the success or failure of any
major change effort.

Among the characters that you will meet in the book are:

· A bartender, who hosts a nectar bar in the vicinity of Squirrel Inc.-
· Diana, an up-and-coming executive at Squirrel Inc. who discovers the
power of stories to spark action.
· Whyse, an advocate of storytelling that communicates who you are;
· Hester, who uses storytelling to get people working together;
· Mark, who discusses storytelling to transmit values;
· Mocha, who shows how humor can be used to tame the grapevine;
· Howe, who deploys storytelling to share knowledge;
· Sandra, who pursues storytelling to lead into the future, and
· Ted, the Director of Public Relations at Squirrel Inc.

All of these characters, apart from the bartender, work for Squirrel


Squirrel Inc. is an imaginary organization with all-too-familiar difficulties.
Once it was among the corporate elite. It was doing well by any standard.
Profits were on the up and up for a sustained period. Its stock was
selling at a high multiple of earnings. Its management was widely admired
as a model.

But times have changed. The marketplace has changed. Squirrel Inc.’s
revenues are stagnating. Its market share is eroding. Its once-admired
management practices no longer cut the mustard. Once Squirrel Inc. could
do no wrong in investors’ eyes: now it can do hardly anything right.
Its executive team is working the same long hours but the firm is no
longer getting the extraordinary results it once got.

Squirrel Inc. is not a bad company. It isn’t involved in systematic
illegality or downright fraud, like Enron. It’s trying to do the right
thing. Its managers are not intentionally cheating or stealing. They
are not crooks. But Squirrel Inc. is not getting the results it needs
to flourish.

Nor has Squirrel Inc. been blindsided by some unexpected event that
could not have been foreseen. As in many actual company examples, the
reasons for its decline have been staring its executives in the face
for some time. The very habits and practices that made the firm successful
in the past have become shackles that are inhibiting innovation and
hampering the changes that need to be made.

Squirrel Inc.’s executives are in varying degrees aware of the reasons
for the firm’s decline. Yet there is no agreement as to what to do,
even if, as in many real-life cases, it is obvious to anyone outside
the organization what ought to be done. For Squirrel Inc., change is
irresistible but the organization seems immovable.

Thus like many organizations today, Squirrel Inc. desperately needs
leadership. As it happens, this is a challenge that narrative techniques
are well adapted to handle. The tale of Squirrel Inc. is about the use
of storytelling as a set of tools to lift the firm out of its downward
trajectory, to get individuals working together, to help to regenerate
innovation, and to move the firm forward into the future.

So if you’re interested in using storytelling as a tool for leading
from wherever you are, or in understanding the unexpectedly large role
of organizational storytelling in the modern world, or simply in following
an entertaining story, go ahead: read, learn and enjoy! I hope you have
as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

About the Author
Stephen Denning is a private consultant specializing in knowledge management
and organizational storytelling. His clients include GE, IBM, Shell,
McDonald’s, and the U.S. Army, among others. He is the author of the
acclaimed book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in
Knowledge-Era Organizations


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