Gurteen Knowledge-Log


CategoriesWeblogs; RSS

Welcome to the Gurteen Knowledge Log. In this blog I blog items of interest that I have found on the web, experiences or insights that I think you will find useful mainly but not strictly limited to the area of knowledge management and learning. Like the rest of my site - it an eclectic mix.

RSS feed for Gurteen Knowledge Log Subscribe to the RSS feed for my blog.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

10:57 GMTPermanent link to #Don Don't give advice - just listen? - Comments

What is it about conversation at times? I see someone struggling with what to do in a situation. They ask for help. I want to have an open conversation with them to explore ideas.

But as soon as I start to talk - they start to argue, they defend, they attack -- I say "look just reserve judgement for now" - but they seem incapable of that. They state assumptions as a matter of fact - I suggest there maybe be other causes/reasons - they are categoric that their view is the only one and the right one. They turn the conversation emotional. Actually, this is not really a conversation - it never can be.

Maybe I am not skilful enough - maybe what I say or the way I say it seems like an attack on their judgement - on their intelligence. But in some situations - how ever I play it - the conversation is turned into a debate - a fight as to who is right and who is wrong.

But maybe there is another way of looking at it?
Advice is unfriendly to learning, especially when it is sought.

Most of the time when people seek advice, they just want to be heard.

Advice at best stops the conversation, definitely inhibits learning, and at worst claims dominance.

Credit: Peter Block
Is the answer really that simple? Don't give advice - just listen?

Stephen Covey says something similar on empathic listening.

09:26 GMTPermanent link to #Capturing actionable insights from Knowledge Cafes# Capturing actionable insights from Knowledge Cafes - Comments

I have long wanted a way to capture "actionable insights" and feedback from my Knowledge Cafes that did not get in the way the conversation, was easy, simple; that everyone could do and that allowed me to collate and distribute the items to the participants.

A few weeks ago, after some inspiration from Paul Corney and Mark Field, I decided it was time to try an experiment and I have developed a system to capture items by SMS and post them to a page on my website that I am calling an "SMS Wall".

Why do it like this rather than use Twitter or some other social tool? Quite simply, I wanted everyone to have the ability to post to the wall.

Not everyone, has a smartphone, not everyone uses Twitter and not everyone has an internet connection but almost everyone has a basic phone with SMS and knows how to use it.

People can also post messages before the Knowledge Cafe, during the KCafe, at the end of the KCafe and even on the train on the way home.

I can also dump the messages to a text file and email them to all the Knowledge Cafe participants as a record of the event.

I'll be trying it out a London Knowledge Cafe very soon. I plan to display the messages on a screen at the end of the KCafe but I think the real value is not so much the ability to see them in real time but to be able to view them in retrospect - say the following day but as I say this is a bit of an experiment and we will see how t all plays out :-)

This of course took a bit of technology to put in place:
  1. a laptop with a 3G modem that receives the SMS messages
  2. a clever bit of software called SMSEnabler - this takes incoming SMS messages on my laptop and sends them on as email
  3. being able to email messages into a Lotus Notes database i.e. my website
  4. about 2 days worth of coding effort by me to write an agent to process the emails and post them to a webpage (my techie background comes in handy sometimes!)
I have set up a Test Wall - try it out here.

08:49 GMTPermanent link to #Conversation sharpens the saw# Conversation sharpens the saw - Comments

One of the reasons that people often give for not taking a more conversational approach to their work is the lack of time. Many even see it as a waste of time. But its through conversation that we learn, make better sense of the world, glean insights, spot new opportunities and avoid pitfalls. The time invested in a conversation almost always has a payback and saves time in the longer term.

Ponder what these 3 great men have to say :-)
The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, 'Wrong jungle!' ...

Busy, efficient producers and managers often respond ... 'Shut up! We're making progress!'

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

Personally, I would use much of that 55 mins to have conversations to determine the proper question to ask and then time to disscuss the question with other people.

As Stephen Covey would say we need to sharpen the saw..

Conversation is rarely a waste of time - "coversation sharpens the saw".

06:46 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2014# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2014 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for January 2014 to February 2014. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.
If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Monday 24 March 2014

19:57 GMTPermanent link to #"Yes" has no meaning, if we cannot say "No"# "Yes" has no meaning, if we cannot say "No" - Comments

Not surprisingly, I am doing a lot of reading and research around the topic of "conversation" and drawing inspiration from the work of Peter Block.

In a document entitled Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community he says this about dissent.

Dissent is the cousin of diversity; the respect for wide range of beliefs.

This begins by allowing people the space to say "no".

If we cannot say "no" then "yes" has no meaning.

Each needs the chance to express their doubts and reservations without having to justify them, or move quickly into problem solving.

"No" is the beginning of the conversation for commitment.

Doubt and "no" is a symbolic expression of people finding their space and role in the strategy.

It is when we fully understand what people do not want that choice becomes possible.

The leadership task is to surface doubts and dissent without having an answer to every question.

This resonates strongly with me.

One of the issues that occassionally comes up when I am designing a Knowledge Cafe for an organisation is the fear that people will use it as an opportunity to dissent about some issue. And managers wish to know how I will prevent that.

What I have never been able to understand is why managers are so afraid of people dissenting - so much so that everyone knows that "no" is not an option and so give lip-service to the agenda on the table and moan or bitch behind his or her back - there is no real commitment.

If people, are not happy then surely, as a manager you would wish to know that. As Peter points out its your job to surface doubts and dissent. They need to be discussed.

"No" should be the beginning of a conversation and "Yes" really does have no meaning, if we cannot say "No"

Peter says it with a little humour in this video.

17:53 GMTPermanent link to #Upcoming Knowledge Events# Upcoming Knowledge Events - Comments

Here are some of the major KM events taking place around the world in the coming months and ones in which I am actively involved. You will find a full list on my website where you can also subscribe to both regional e-mail alerts and RSS feeds which will keep you informed of new and upcoming events.

What does Conversational Leadership mean to you?
26 Mar 2014, London, United Kingdom

APQC's 2014 Knowledge Management Conference
07 - 11 Apr 2014, Houston, United States

4th International Action Learning Conference
14 - 16 Apr 2014, Berkhamsted, United Kingdom

The Middle East Leadership Communications Conference
21 - 22 Apr 2014, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
I will be speaking at this conference and running a workshop.

ASTD 2014 Conference
04 - 07 May 2014, Washington DC, United States

KM Legal 2014
14 - 15 May 2014, London, United Kingdom

KM UK 2014
11 - 12 Jun 2014, London, United Kingdom

European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2014
10 Jul - 11 Feb 2014, Brighton, United Kingdom
I will be speaking at this conference.

KMICe2014 : Knowledge Management International Conference
12 - 15 Aug 2014, Langkawi Island, Malaysia

The 9th International KMO Conference (Knowledge Management in Organizations)
02 - 05 Sep 2014, Santiago, Chile

15th European Conference on Knowledge Management
04 - 05 Sep 2014, Santarém, Portugal

KM Brasil 2014
17 - 19 Sep 2014, Florianópolis - SC, Brasil

19th Knowledge Management Tracks
06 Oct 2014, Milano, Italy

KM LatinAmerican 2014
20 - 24 Oct 2014, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM World 2014
04 - 07 Nov 2014, Washington DC, United States

11th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning – ICICKM 2014
06 - 07 Nov 2014, Sydney, Australia

Monday 24 February 2014

18:27 GMTPermanent link to #Social software tools to facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives# Social software tools to facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives - Comments

My good friend Professor Dan Remenyi is developing a repository of social software tools which will directly facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives. He is looking to collect examples of useful products and websites and also anecdotes about how they have been used and what type of results have been achieved. This will eventually be published on a website and in an e-Book and all contributions will be acknowledged.

Please contact him if you would like to make a contribution to this repository of knowledge. His e-mail is dan.remenyi@gmail.com

18:01 GMTPermanent link to #How do we transfer knowledge through everyday meeting talk?# How do we transfer knowledge through everyday meeting talk? - Comments

It's not too often I get the opportunity to help out someone who is doing some really fascinating research into Knowledge Management and conversation. So could anyone help out Lesley Crane please?

Lesley is a final year PhD student investigating organizational knowledge work - knowledge transfer and sharing. Her study focuses on how such work is accomplished in everyday meeting talk. This seems to me to be an original approach in that it locates the study of knowledge in talk and text, and it is this discourse which she is analysing to investigate how and with what effect people share and create knowledge.

She is looking to engage with organizations who would be willing to take part in her study. It is unobtrusive - she doesn't even need to be present! All she needs are good recordings of any type of organizational meeting. The only proviso is that participants need to be English speakers! Confidentiality and anonymity are guaranteed.

If you would like to help please get in touch with Lesley via email @ l.crane1@unimail.derby.ac.uk.

If this approach intrigues you as it does me then you will find two of her past papers here

17:07 GMTPermanent link to #50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management"# 50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management" - Comments

Last year Academic Publishing International published Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management.

The book is a collection of ten academic papers that I carefully selected to create the volume and wrote a short editorial comment on each paper.

You can now purchase the book at a 50% discount by quoting the code SKM50 when you order online.

Friday 21 February 2014

12:03 GMTPermanent link to #The consequences of wolves and our actions# The consequences of wolves and our actions - Comments

One of the things that has long intrigued me is the unintended consequences of our actions.

We do something either intentionally or by accident and as a consequence of that action a whole load of unintended consequences follow.

Those consequences can be good or they can be bad. If they are bad and we notice them we can take corrective action.

But too often, we either do not notice the consequences of our actions or if we do, we do not attribute them to our original action.

Things change and we have no real idea why and the last thing that we do is to put it down to our own actions.

This little video about wolves in Yellowstone Park is a wonderful example of this in action The last wolf was killed in Yellowstone National Park in 1926 and they were not reintroduced until 1995.

Seems the impact has been amazing. Would you ever expect less than 100 wolves to actually have an affect on the course of the rivers in Yellowstone Park. Take a look at this video and see why! How wolves change rivers or read about it here in the History of wolves in Yellowstone.

What else do we do or decide not to do in this world but have no idea of the real consequences - many of them long them where the connection between cause and effect is lost?

Thursday 20 February 2014

12:45 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2014# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2014 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for January 2014 to February 2014. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

  • The only reason to come together face-to-face is for people to be in conversation with each other @NancyMDixon http://bit.ly/YJHM5A

  • Disruptive innovation, conversation, requires no enterprise social media, no 2-yr IT project, no so-called management http://bit.ly/1c9v9Vc

  • Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively http://bit.ly/aXO54c #KM

  • For authentic conversation there is no million dollar budget, no fancy PowerPoints on ‘culture', no software ... http://bit.ly/1c9v9Vc

  • Is it the stories being told that define who your company really is and what it believes in? http://huff.to/1nxSx49

  • People when making decisions in groups spend most of their time telling each other things that everyone already knows http://bit.ly/aXO54c

  • Most corporate communications are too polished to be convincing http://huff.to/1nxSx49

  • Imagine KM without richness of authentic conversation, diverse opinions, original ideas, deliberate serendipity http://bit.ly/1nxOtkx #KM

  • A Different Way to Acquire Lessons Learned in Knowledge Management @PaulJCorney http://bit.ly/1g5zDkB

  • Creating participatory conferences - challenging the assumptions http://bit.ly/pTR4um

  • It's Too Quiet, We Need to Talk More http://bit.ly/hPVagy #GurteenTalk

  • Dilbert on checking email while having a conversation http://bit.ly/1c9wjjB

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

12:26 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the February 2014 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the February 2014 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I upgraded my iPhone just before Christmas to an iPhone 5S. I wasn't expecting a great deal. I was expecting it to be faster to have a longer battery life and of course a better camera. I certainly wasn't expecting it to have a major impact on my productivity.

What is the magic app that is making all the difference? Quite simply it is the in-built speech recognition facility. It's quite amazing. If I speak slowly and clearly it is 100% accurate. I use it all the time to dictate SMS messages.

But more than that I use it to compose emails and blog posts. I am using it right now to create this newsletter.

I gather there is a similar function on other smartphones but I have no idea how good the transcription is compared to the iPhone.

What surprises me though is that I discovered it quite by accident. Like me, you may not be familiar with the capability. I have mentioned it to several people with iPhones and they were not using it. Try it out, if you haven't, you will be gobsmacked.

What is really cute though, is that with a little bit of my own coded Lotus Notes technology I can record a blog post and email right in to my website. It's a dream!

10:37 GMTPermanent link to #The Sustainable Organization Library (SOL)# The Sustainable Organization Library (SOL) - Comments

I was talking with Holly Shukla at the AKISS conference recently and she told me about the Sustainable Organization Library (SOL) -- an online collection of book chapters, journal papers and cases on sustainability and social responsibility.

If your business is interested in sustainability and CSR (and damn it you should be!) then this looks an extremely valuable resource.

In browsing, I found this free guide: Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing sustainability at the heart of management education. PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) is an initiative to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally.

If you would like to know more about the SOL library then contact Holly at GSE Research and if you mention my name she will give you a free trial access and a discount on any subscription you may take out.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

09:02 GMTPermanent link to #The future of telepresence# The future of telepresence - Comments

I recently posted an item on telepresence. In response, Helen Baxter in New Zealand pointed me to this Kinect Real-Time Room Telepresence. What an amazing development!

Imagine looking into another room through a glass window and as you walked around in your room the perspective of everything in the room through the window changed just as in real life. In other words, when you move, the video follows, adjusting itself in real-time to give the effect that it was a real window! Everything displayed of course is life size!

The Kinect makes this possible by having a depth detecting feature, allowing 3d video capture. 10 Kinect cameras are used for capture and 1 for tracking.

I am imaging that the screen/window was a cylinder in the middle of the room that you could walk around. Is that possible?

There's also a whitepaper from MIT

Thanks Helen!

Monday 27 January 2014

17:15 GMTPermanent link to #Peter Block: Lecture-style seating is a parade ground with comfort!# Peter Block: Lecture-style seating is a parade ground with comfort! - Comments

In the introduction to my April 2013 Knowledge Letter I mentioned Peter Block and Ken Everett sent me the email below in response.
Hi David,

Glad you highlighted Peter Block.

I became an admirer when I attended a presentation in a BIG ballroom thing at ASTD 2008.

He immediately pointed out the 'military' nature of our arrangement--in rows, facing the O-I-C, looking at the backs of heads.

He highlighted that this was a parade ground...with comfort.

And useless for real communication.

The auditorium, he said, should only be used for performances!

He then got us to break the rows of chairs (literally--they were connected) into groups of 3 or 4...and to discuss a question.


Keep up your good work.

Best wishes, Ken

Credit: Ken Everett

It reminded me of a Knowledge Cafe I ran at an ECKM conference in 2007 in a University in Barcelona where the chairs were actually screwed down to the floor ... so we went across the road and held it in a real Cafe!

16:46 GMTPermanent link to #Does Pope Francis know something about Knowledge Management?# Does Pope Francis know something about Knowledge Management? - Comments

Does the Pope Francis know something about Knowledge Management? Here is a recent quote from an interview with him. To my mind, it's not only the Church that needs to preach less and listen more- we all need to :-)
Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.

We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.

Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs.

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas.

The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.

Credit: Pope Francis

16:26 GMTPermanent link to #Pause & Reflect Take Two# Pause & Reflect Take Two - Comments

I recently posted an item titled Pause and Reflect referencing a blog post ‘Pause & Reflect' session or an ‘After Action Review'? by Paul Corney.

In response Paul has posted a further item describing the difference between a Pause & Reflect and an AAR: 10 tips for running a successful Pause & Reflect debrief that you may find of interest.

15:46 GMTPermanent link to #Telepresence: "Beaming in" to a Knowledge Cafe# Telepresence: "Beaming in" to a Knowledge Cafe - Comments

There is an interesting thread in the Gurteen Knowledge Forum on the subject of how to run a Virtual Knowledge Cafe that has been running for while.

And then recently, I was talking to Kitty Wooley on Skype about this and we decided it would be interesting for her to join one of my London Knowledge Cafes virtually as an experiment. So this would be one virtual person in a sea of real people. My first thought was to have the "virtual Kitty" sit at a table as a laptop or better still as an IPad and to connect via Skype. It seemed to me that this could even work more generally if there was just one virtual person per table.

But as I reflected on it - I realised that there might be some better technology available than a laptop or an iPad. My first thought was a remote controlled WiFi webcam such as this one BESTEX remote controlled webcam

But it was obviously not ideal and so I Googled around a little and found Beam+

and Double Robotics - Telepresence Robot for Telecommuters.

Both are wonderful but expensive pieces of technology that I am sure will come down in price overtime and will have their place. But I wanted something simpler and less expensive and it did not need to be mobile. I then came across the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam

At first glance, it looked as if in combination with a laptop, it might work well until I realised that the person "beaming in" could not control where the camera was looking. A big disappointment!

But I am sure it is only a matter of time before I can purchase something like this at a reasonable price and simply place the virtual person on a chair with the others at the table and for a good group conversation to take place even though it will still fall short of a genuine face to face, "body to body" conversation!

11:18 GMTPermanent link to #Why we should lay off "best practice" in KM# Why we should lay off "best practice" in KM - Comments

I am still surprised to hear people talk about KM "best practices" and to see the topic on conference agendas.

As Dave Snowden, points out in this rather old article Managing for Serendipity or why we should lay off “best practice” in KM, they come at a severe cost.
... The common knowledge management focus on best practice is in effect contrary to natural practice; an attempt to impose an idealistic structured process onto the natural activity of learning and knowledge transfer through a focus on efficiency at the cost of effectiveness.
If you are new to KM and have not read this article then can I suggest you do :-)

10:24 GMTPermanent link to #KM mini-interviews with Nancy Dixon# KM mini-interviews with Nancy Dixon - Comments

Ankur Makhija of eClerx Services recently let me know that they have uploaded two more KM mini-interviews to their YouTube channel. The latest are from Nancy Dixon and include:
They are short and well worth the time to view.

I also have a playlist of video talks by Nancy Dixon if you are interested.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

10:17 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2014# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2014 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for December 2013 to January 2014. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Monday 20 January 2014

11:30 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the January 2014 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the January 2014 Knowledge Letter - Comments

In my November Knowledge Letter I posted an item on Serendipity and Randomised Coffee Trials.

These have had quite a lot of attention with several people telling me how much they like the idea and I have added the RSA and the KHDA in Dubai to my list of organisations running them.

I am so excited by the concept that I am encouraging more people to take them up and to collect stories and anecdotes about how they have been implemented and the feedback received.

Also, I have now found two organisations that provide an RCT service: CoffeeWho and Lunch Roulette

Other organisations have mashed up an Excel spreadsheet to administer their RCTs. If you know of any free simple tool that will make the random matches please let me know.

But take a look at them! So simple, so powerful!

Thursday 9 January 2014

12:25 GMTPermanent link to #Making post project reviews more conversational# Making post project reviews more conversational - Comments

I am currently documenting the many ways in which I have seen the Knowledge Cafe taken and adapted by organisations for different purposes. I am also writing about further ways in which I think the KCafe could be used.

Early last year, I wrote how I thought it could improve the Post Project Review process for a colleague, hoping that we might have the opportunity to try the process out with one of his clients but nothing came of it.

Rather than letting my thoughts sit on my hard-disk for another year or so I thought I'd publish them here. They are a little rough but I hope you will get the general idea. If anyone would like to experiment with this process then get in touch with me.

Introduction to Conversational Post Project Reviews
Many post-project reviews rely on people filling in forms. Or on meetings where the whole group is asked a question and people reply individually. Or where people present their pre-filled forms to the group. Others are based on interviews.

Often they are highly structured and formal in nature, with check-lists, specific categories of questions, pre-defined questions and pre-allocated times for discussion and so forth. There is nothing greatly wrong with this structured analytical approach and there is no one way to run post-project reviews but its fair to say that in general they are not very "conversational". By and large, it is assumed that people already know what the problems were and all that is needed is to capture the "lessons learnt".

The Knowledge Cafe Philosophy takes a different approach by assuming that until people start to talk openly about how the project went many of the problems and missed opportunities and insights will not be surfaced. It takes group conversation, people talking freely and openly in small groups of 3 or 4 to achieve this. It's not that the more formal approach does not work, it's that it does not surface the deeper, more important stuff.

The Process
One or more Knowledge Cafes can form part of any larger post-project review process and elements of this conversational process may be built into other activities.

A typical process might be as follows though this methodology can be adapted in many ways to meet the needs of the review.
  • The cafe process is described to the participants if they are not already familiar with it.
  • A speed conversation session is run. Here the participants are asked to join each other in pairs and have a brief conversation about anything they wish. Three rounds of 5 minutes each might be sufficient.
  • Some one talks for 5 to 10 minutes to set the context of the conversation.
  • They then pose a question to the group to trigger the conversation (more on the question in a moment).
  • People are seated in small groups, 3 or 4, at the very most 5 people group. There are no table leaders.
  • The small groups have a conversation around the topic/question and after about 15 mins are asked to change groups.
  • This change of groups takes place twice thus there are 3 small group conversations.
  • Everyone comes back together to form whole group. People move their chairs to form a circle and everyone sits in the circle.
  • The conversation then continues where people share their insights from the small groups with everyone.
  • Finally, the KCafe leader goes around the circle and asks everyone to share one lesson that they have learnt from the project and/or their KCafe conversations.
Speed Conversations
Recent research (Friends With Cognitive Benefits -What Types of Social Interactions Boost Executive Functioning? by Oscar Ybarra, Piotr Winkielman, Irene Yeh, Eugene Burnstein, Liam Kavanagh) shows that talking with other people in a friendly way makes it easier to solve common problems. Conversations that are competitive in tone however, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits and actually suppress the ability to solve problems. This is the reason for the short round of speed conversations at the start of the Cafe. It relaxes, people, gets them talking about uncontroversial things and actually boosts their thinking ability.

Group Size
The essential ingredient of the Cafe is the small group conversations and the fact that each group is only 3 or 4 people in size (never less than 3 and never greater than 5). Research on group size (Group Discussion as Interactive Dialogue or as Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size by Nicolas Fay; Simon Garrod; Jean Carletta) shows that in small groups the communication is like dialogue and members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion. However, in larger groups, the communication is like monologue and members are influenced most by the dominant speaker. Large groups tend to be dominated by one or two members to the detriment of the others. In other words, if you are looking for highly interactive conversation that connects observations, thoughts and ideas and surface new things, then a small group size of 3 or 4 is essential. The whole group is more suited to reporting back and sharing knowledge rather than surfacing or creating it.

The Circle
The circle that is used for the whole group conversation is a very powerful. By sitting in a circle, first and foremost everyone is equal. Everyone can also easily see and hear each other. Its not easy to hide and its actually more difficult to dominate. Importantly, the Cafe leader can also see everyone and through eye contact and body language to some degree can shape the conversation by indicating to dominant people they should talk less and encouraging the quieter members of the group to speak up.

The Question
There is usually only ever one question asked in a Knowledge cafe and as it is the trigger for the conversations that ensue it is of the upmost importance and it is essential to think about it and craft it carefully. The KCafe is about creating a conversational experience. In some ways the question should not be designed so much as to get answers to specific issues but to generate engagement. Engagement at times can be important then content. We are not looking for surface issues here we are looking for deep ones.

If the KCafe is held early on in the post project review, maybe it is the first item, then it sets the conversational scene for the remainder of the session. We want people to feel relaxed, free from fear, energised and engaged. One way to do this is to make the questions personal, responsibility and action oriented.

For example:
  • What did you personally learn from this project?
  • In what ways do you feel personally responsible for the outcome of the project?
  • What would you personally do differently next time as a result of your experience of working on this project?
  • What opportunities did you miss to do things better?
  • What was the most valuable thing you accomplished in this project?
Building elements of the Cafe into the post project review process
One very simple adaptation of the KCafe process is to build time for conversation into your existing process. For example, at present, you may ask the participants as a whole group to answer a specific question and let some sort of conversation emerge around that question.

The KCafe approach, would be to have people seated in small groups of 3 or 4 and to ask them to discuss the question in their small groups first before coming together to discuss as a large group. Forming a circle for the large group conversation is also a powerful KCafe technique to adopt.

There is not one, prescriptive way to do this but I think we need to get away from the rigidness and formality of so much that we do in corporate life and make processes such as this one more relaxed, engaging and conversational.

If you like these ideas, experiment and let me know how you get on.

Sunday 29 December 2013

11:57 GMTPermanent link to #Listening to ignite rather than listening to reply# Listening to ignite rather than listening to reply - Comments

Twenty or more years ago I came across this statement from Stephen Covey in talking about his fifth habit "Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood" and it has had a profound impact on me.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

And then over Christmas I stumbled over a short video interview with Nancy Kline where she says this:

I want to be listening in a way that is more interested in where you will go next than I am in what I am going to say next.

Credit: Nancy Kline

She thinks that the attention of one human being to another is an act of creation. Watch the video - it's only 2 mins long. Although, I have never quite articulated this in this past its always been an implicit principle behind my Knowledge Cafes.

It may seem strange but listening although usually seen as passive can be very powerful action!

Youu can learn more about Nancys work here.

The quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first.

The quality of our thinking depends on the way we treat each other while we are thinking.

Credit: Nancy Kline

Saturday 28 December 2013

21:58 GMTPermanent link to #Take a Seat and Make a Friend# Take a Seat and Make a Friend - Comments

This Take a Seat and Make a Friend? is a wonderful idea. It reminds me of Theodore Zeldin's way of connecting strangers through his Conversaton Dinners.

Thanks to Luis Suarez who wishes to humanise everything who pointed me to this.

Luis also talks about serendipity as I did recently in these two posts Serendipity and talking with strangers and Serendipity and Randomised Coffee Trials

We realy do need to connect more and get to know and understand each other as human beings.

Sunday 29 December 2013

10:41 GMTPermanent link to #Pause and Reflect# Pause and Reflect - Comments

I have long thought that the real value in an after-action review was not all the lessons captured and stored but simply taking the time to "pause and reflect" together and the actual conversation that takes place, so I was pleased to see this blog post ‘Pause & Reflect' session or an ‘After Action Review'? from Paul Corney.

Pausing and reflecting is probably also an easier concept to introduce to an organisation than more formal after-action reviews.

I also like the idea of "the power of 3" - that most people can remember 3 things and act on them. I lean much more to "the power of 1" though :-)

I think people are far more likely to remember and act on just one thing than three. It's why at the end of most of my Knowledge Cafes, I go around the circle and ask everyone to share one "actionable insight" with the group - one thing that they are taking away from the conversation and plan to do or has had a significant impact on the way that they see things that will almost certainly alter the course of future decisions that they make.

Paul also mentions reverse brainstorming. I am not too sure if its the same concept that I work with but It probably is as I learnt it from Victor Newman whom Paul mentions in his post. This is the Reverse Brainstorming process that I use.

Thursday 19 December 2013

16:26 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: December 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: December 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for November to Decembr 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

16:25 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the December 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the December 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Every Christmas, this knowledge letter gets shorter and shorter and later and later. This month is no exception! But then I hope you have far better things to do then to take the time to read it :-)

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to an exciting 2014!

Monday 25 November 2013

09:24 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the November 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the November 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

When I first started this knowledge letter back in May 2000, yes it is in it's14th year, the idea was that I still regularly blogged but selected some of my more interesting posts at the end of each month to include in the knowledge letter. It hasn't quite worked out that way.

Throughout the month, I capture ideas and half-formed draft blog posts that get published at the end of the month in a blitz over a day, maybe two. And then nearly all of those posts end up in my knowledge letter.

What is interesting is how much many of the posts have in common although they have come from different sources or inspirations over the month.. The two posts in this month's knowledge letter - both on the subject of serendipity are such an example. I feel we really need to find more and effective ways of connecting with each other and having meaningful conversations. One of these ideas is Peter Block's Conversations for possibility rather than Conversations to solve problems.

08:56 GMTPermanent link to #If we wish to change the world we first must change our mind# If we wish to change the world we first must change our mind - Comments

I only recently discovered the work of Peter Block.

To me the most interesting of his work is this Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community Changing the Nature of the Conversation booklet written by Peter and several others.

Peter is one of those people who sees the world through a very different lens from most of us. I suspect many will have difficulty with what he has to say and his style of writing but he espouses some very profound ideas that I find invigorating food for thought.

One example is that maybe our ideas about what constitutes action are all wrong as he says here:
My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.

This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.

Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.

The booklet also talks about a conversational process that has much in common with my Knowledge Cafe. If you are interested in change and the role of conversation in bringing about change then this document is a must read. I am reading and re-reading it several times over to integrate the ideas into my own thinking and to assess its potential impact on my Knowledge Cafe process.

08:33 GMTPermanent link to #Serendipity and Randomised Coffee Trials# Serendipity and Randomised Coffee Trials - Comments

Back in the summer at KM UK I was talking with someone at a KM Clinic who asked me about the Knowledge Cafe and whether it could be run online. I am often asked this question and my simple answer is No. Yes, you can do things online but to my mind they fall so far short of a face-to-face conversation that they are two very different ways of coming together.

The woman I was talking with was looking for ways in which she could connect people across a far flung global organisation and to help them build working relationships. To my mind trying to run an online version of the Knowledge Cafe would not be very effective but as we talked an idea emerged in my mind and that was to connect people at the individual level using Skype. The idea was to match people at random across sites and get them to have a Skype based conversation. It would be one to one, face-to-face and should work quite well. That was it. As far as I know she did not follow up on this.

But then more recently I was talking with Susan Chan and she told me about Randomised Coffee Trials (RCTs) that were being run in the UK's Cabinet Office. I was excited, as the concept was so similar to my Skype idea but face to face - why oh why had I not thought of that :-) In Googling around, I found that the idea had originated at Nesta (an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life).

This how Nesta describes the RCTs:
Nesta staff that have opted-in are sent a weekly randomized match with another Nesta staff member and the two are invited to grab a coffee together.

There are no requirements or obligations regarding the topics discussed, some [randomized coffee trials] are spent entirely on work-related matters, others are entirely personal in nature.

It is just a coffee, but at the same time it is much more.

At the time, I tweeted it.

Told my daughter @TheCafeCat about Randomised Coffee Trials & within 2hrs her company had agreed to run them! http://bit.ly/1emtbnj

Seems the Scottish Government have been running them too.

Here are some resources Someone has had a similar idea called Lunch Roulette and have made a business out of it.
Breaking down functional silos is key to everything from encouraging communication to building valuable connections to sparking innovation.

But, as we all know, bridging interdepartmental chasms is far easier said than done.

Fortunately, some companies are starting to come up with creative solutions. Take, for example, Lunch Roulette...

The power of this idea is strong and it is so easy to implement. Take a good look and see what you think. Could you do this in your organisation?

Footnote: Where did that seemingly crazy name Randomised Coffee Trails come from - well its a play on the concept of Randomised Control Trials. Ben Goldacre of Nesta talks a little about it here in this post on his launch of Randomise Me - a free online trials generator.

Sunday 24 November 2013

20:25 GMTPermanent link to #What is co-creation?# What is co-creation? - Comments

"What is co-creation?" This is a question that Vadim Shiryaev, president of SOMAR and partner of the Russian KM Alliance repeatedly posed to everyone he met at KM Asia recently. He explained to me that it was his way of learning and I rather like the approach.

It was not a term I was familiar with, though having Googled it, it turns out that I am much more familiar with the idea behind it. This is the definition I like the most.
At its core, co-creation is about involving a community outside your company in the ideation phase of the new product or service development.

With co-creation, the participants -- which may include customers, suppliers or the general population -- are made aware that they are contributing towards the development of ideas and concepts.

Through a series of steps, people are invited to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts.

And elsewhere "Co-creation works best when you build a strong community. People share ideas, build on each others' work, critique, praise, and compete. It takes more than financial rewards to keep smart, creative people engaged."

A small group of us convened by Vadim talked a lot about what the principles might lie behind a co-creation methodology and a key insight for me is that I have the core of such a methodology in an emerging, expanded vision of my Knowledge Cafe.

"The Knowledge Cafe is a highly adaptable conversational methodology for bringing people together to have conversations to achieve a common purpose."

More on this as my ideas develop :-)

16:54 GMTPermanent link to #Serendipity and talking with strangers# Serendipity and talking with strangers - Comments

A day or two ago I came across this post on Serendipity as a style of life. It immediately resonated with me as like the writer I have been making a point to talk to strangers for some years now.

I never thought about it as a serendipitous act before - I have just been looking to strike up interesting conversations with people. We go through life missing great opportunities to meet and have conversations with interesting people.

As the writer explains, it is actually quite easy and a stock of a few simple open ended questions do the trick. It's also rare that people do not respond, if you approach them in a warm friendly manner with an unthreatening question or comment.. Comments often work best as they are the least threatening and do not call for an answer. Having read the post, I am inspired to do it more.

Interestingly having just got back from KM Asia in Singapore - some of the most amazing conversations I have ever had are with elderly Chinese taxi drivers. They seem to have a lot of wisdom for their years. The most recent conversation, while I was there, was with a Chinese taxi driver who had a few years earlier, lost his business, his wife and most of his family and almost committed suicide but for the love and support of his youngest daughter. He was starting to rebuild his life.

And the taxi driver from Bangladesh in Dubai recently, who when I told him my wife was Muslim, proceeded in a very charming and low key way to try to convert me to the religion! LOL

There is an even more interesting story from Singapore some years ago that reminded me of a fundamental principle - "people can have every different perspectives on life - don't make assumptions that they feel the same as you do". I must write up the full story - watch this space.

Theodore Zeldin even organises Conversation Dinners where you get to have dinner and maybe more importantly intimate conversation with someone you have never met. To some degree, its also art of what my Knowledge Cafes are all about.

Go on! Next time you get the chance to start up a conversation with a stranger - do it. You may surprise yourself how easy it is and how rewarding.

14:00 GMTPermanent link to #It It's about time the kids taught the teachers! - Comments

This recent post from Euan Semple Hiding from ourselves reminded me of the many conversations I have had over the years where people put down social media or a particular social media tool with a degree of nastiness and spite.

If they just said, "Oh I have taken a look at the tool and it does not works for me." - that would be fine but why the venom?

It's also interesting that when I probe a little (not too hard as they get even angrier) - they have not looked at the tool in question and only have some vague misguided idea of what it all about - often picked up from the popular press.

As Euan, so rightly comments "What are they so afraid of?"

I had two school teachers do this to me recently. With the pace of change, sooner or later, the kids are going to have to start to teach the teachers! Now that's a wonderful idea - a two way teaching process. There is so much that kids could teach us adults! Imagine a school where they actually did that. Someone must be doing it :-)

12:47 GMTPermanent link to #He who got the donkey up the tower knows how to bring it down!# He who got the donkey up the tower knows how to bring it down! - Comments

A few weeks back while in Dubai to run a Knowledge Cafe at the OLC MENA conference I took part in a radio show on Dubai Eye 103.8 (@DubaiEye1038FM) a Dubai-based talk radio station.

The show was Voices of Diversity with presenter Suzanne Radford (@suzanneradford). It should have been with her regular co-host Samineh Shaheem (@SaminehShaheem), a cross cultural psychologist but Samineh was ill and a rather fun gentleman Dylan Dolan, an executive coach and trainer took her place.

The topic of the show was "Conversation making across cultures: How to talk to each other truthfully without causing offence or conflict."

In the hour before I joined the show, Suzanne and Dylan talked about misunderstandings and common sayings and meanings across cultures. And when I joined we explored in more detail the art of conversation, sharing of ideas and relationship building.

Here is a podcast of the session, thank goodness I was still wide-awake despite having landed at 6:30am local time, 3:30am UK time on an overnight flight from London in time for the show!

It was a great experience, in fact my first time on radio. Thanks to Maggie Wlliams for suggesting the idea.

My favourite idiom from the show ... "He who got the donkey up the tower knows how to bring it down."

Friday 22 November 2013

16:58 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for October to November 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Thursday 24 October 2013

11:02 GDTPermanent link to #I will be taking part in a radio show on Dubai Eye this Sunday 27 Oct 2013 at 11:00am GST (7:00am GMT)# I will be taking part in a radio show on Dubai Eye this Sunday 27 Oct 2013 at 11:00am GST (7:00am GMT) - Comments

This Sunday 27 October 2013 at 11:00am GST (7:00am GMT) I will be taking part in a show on Dubai Eye 103.8 (@DubaiEye1038FM) a Dubai-based talk radio station.

The show is Voices of Diversity with presenter Suzanne Radford (@suzanneradford) and her co-host Samineh Shaheem (@SaminehShaheem), a cross cultural psychologist.

The topic of the show this Sunday will be "Conversation making across cultures: How to talk to each other truthfully without causing offence or conflict."

Suzanne tells me that in the hour before I join the show that they will be talking about misunderstandings and common sayings and meanings across cultures. And then when I join they will explore in more detail with me the art of conversation, sharing of ideas and relationship building.

You can listen live on the web here

I hope I am not too bleary-eyed, having landed at 6:30am local time, 3:30am UK time on an overnight flight from London in time for the show!

Tuesday 22 October 2013

14:03 GDTPermanent link to #A missed opportunity for conversation# A missed opportunity for conversation - Comments

One of my community members recently e-mailed me to say that one of the ideas she had proposed to the conference committee of which she was a member was to run a Knowledge Café as an evening event at one of their conferences.

The idea was to tie it in one of the keynote speakers, allowing participants to dig deeper in to the concepts presented by the speaker. A question would be posed by the speaker and tie back to the keynote from earlier in the day. This would in turn tie into an on-line community that would continue the conversation, post lessons learned and insights gleaned from the conference.

Guess what? She was voted down by the other members of the committee. It still amazes me how conservative people are about running Knowledge Cafes or similar conversational events.

The above idea is a perfect way in which to experiment with conversations. If you get the chance to do something like this - grab it!

Monday 21 October 2013

18:53 GDTPermanent link to #By the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else# By the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else - Comments

I love the way that Twitter points me to interesting stuff and causes me to Google, think about and research things that I might otherwise have not. I read things that resonate with me and I am almost compelled to follow them up. This re-tweet by Harold Jarche @HJarche was one such provocation:
By the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else --- Henry Mintzberg – via @flowchainsensei

Googling turned up the full quote and source as follows:
By the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else.

We create clusters of followers who have to be driven to perform, instead of leveraging the natural propensity of people to cooperate in communities.

In this light, effective managing can be seen as engaging and engaged, connecting and connected, supporting and supported.

I have long had a problem with books, blog posts and articles that are written for leaders ...ones that are titled "How effective leaders do so and so .... ". I like to think we all leaders in our own way, in our own time - that sometimes we chose to lead, other times we chose to follow. Like Mintzberg, I'd much rather we viewed things as "people cooperating in communities than leaders leading the not so charismatic, motivated or informed".

In Googling, I also found a few good YouTube videos of Henry Mintzberg talking about his ideas and I decided to start to curate a Mintzberg playlist. Make sure you check out his Introduction to CoachingOurselves video - so much in common with my Knowledge Cafe concept.

What could be more natural than to see our organizations not as mystical hierarchies of authority so much as communities of engagement, where every member is respected and so returns that respect? (p. 233 – 234)

10:29 GDTPermanent link to #Euan Semple on curating# Euan Semple on curating - Comments

This recent blog post on Curatorship from Euan Semple resonated with me so strongly I just had to reprint it.

Note my emphasis in bold. This is what it is all about "curating stuff that appeals to you" - not curating stuff that you think will be of interest to other people. It's helped me make some amazing friends all over the world - many whom I have never met. I think all good bloggers/curators naturally do this.
Many of you will have noticed, either through my Facebook updates or my newsletter, that I like to point to interesting things. Whether stunning images, quirky insights, or ideas that interest me, they are all things that have made me think "Ooh that's interesting."

The things I find interesting say something about me. Shared links are like the clothes you wear, they project an image of yourself that you hope some people will find attractive and be drawn to. This process of curating stuff that appeals to you allows you to be found by people who share your interests. This helps start relationships and build networks. This is how you get to do interesting things with interesting people.

Curatorship adds as much value inside organisations as it does for freelancers like myself. If you don't already have one you need to find a platform on which to carry out and share the results of your own curatorship. It can be as simple as sharing links by email.

Early link blogs were a way of pointing to stuff and saying why it was interesting. Nowadays there are all sorts of tools to curate your stuff from Pinterest to Pinboard, but the principle remains the same.

Take your curatorship seriously, become known for your discernment and as someone who finds good stuff, who adds more signal than noise. Do this and interesting things will start to happen.

Sunday 20 October 2013

18:17 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for August to September 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

  • Choosing conversations that work for knowledge sharing http://bit.ly/H5vkI2 #KM #KnowledgeCafe

  • Growth is Obsolete: Society needs to realize growth does not equal prosperity http://bit.ly/H5uJGi #SocialGood

  • What did Einstein know about Knowledge Management? http://bit.ly/19LBvKk #KM /love the infographic

  • Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about http://bit.ly/17lLZOr

  • Your organization's culture is nothing more than what individuals say to each other & what they think to themselves http://bit.ly/15Zgej1

  • RT @EskoKilpi: We are the result of our interaction. We are our relations http://bit.ly/1bw64Ia

  • Culture is conversation. To change the culture, change the conversation http://bit.ly/197sDfA #GurteenTalk

  • Pinky has a "Scary School Nightmare" http://bit.ly/18WKV7b #education #teaching #IvanIllich

  • There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. http://bit.ly/9z0Ei4 /how wrong can a man be!

  • To build support align the initiative to serve the selfish interests of the individuals who will be impacted most! http://bit.ly/1hkAHOV

  • Why conversation is the best way to share knowledge http://bit.ly/19e89HL /thanks @DavidWilcox #KnowledgeCafe #KM

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

17:43 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the October 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the October 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

The Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn continues to grow and has now reached over 4,100 members.

Every so often, someone triggers a great discussion. My good friend Jon Thorne who loves to question things triggered this recent discussion with the following question. Is conversation the most powerful way to share knowledge or the best barrier to knowledge sharing?

Just browsing the discussion and reflecting on the topic, it seems to me that there are a whole range of conversational styles from chit--chat to dialogue to debate to emotional argument. Each of these styles can lead to learning though the learning is heavily influenced by the context of the relationship - in particular how well people trust each other.

But in general:
  • Chit-chat builds relationships.

  • Dialogue reveals assumptions, surfaces new ideas etc

  • Debate determines the truth of a subject but can too easily get emotional and lead to argument.

  • Argument is about winning or losing. In the context of a strong relationship it is not too harmful but lacking that trust, relationships can be so easily destroyed.

So yes,conversation, if it turns to argument can be a barrier to sharing knowledge..

But take a look at the discussion - its quite far ranging with contributions from Nancy Dixon and Nick Milton.

Friday 27 September 2013

15:08 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the September 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the September 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I gave a talk at an internal company conference in Munich a few days ago on Knowledge Networking to business managers from all over Europe. I would have preferred it was a Knowledge Cafe but that was not what was asked of me.

The closest I got to initiating some conversation was towards the end of my talk when I asked the audience to turn to each other in groups of 3 or 4 (it was lecture style seating) and to have a brief conversation on the following
What are the realities we are not currently facing and what are the conversations we should be having?

There was no guarantee that this would provoke any reflection or that any interesting conversations would result. But it seemed the closest I could get to triggering some meaningful conversation in the organisation. I hope I hear back that it did.

So what conversations should you be having in your organisation right now and what are the questions you should be asking?

Think on it - even have a conversation with someone about it :-)

Monday 23 September 2013

08:31 GDTPermanent link to #Wipro KM Confluence 2013 Summary# Wipro KM Confluence 2013 Summary - Comments

Not many organisations are large enough and so committed to KM as to hold their own internal KM conference but Wipro did just that only a few weeks ago in Bangalore.

Wipro extended its spirit of Knowledge Management by inviting academicians, external KM experts and business leaders along with delegates from over 48 organizations to collaborate, share, network, and grow by bringing them all under one roof with a daylong for Wipro KM Confluence 2013.

They also produced a nice report on the event that you can find here Wipro KM Confluence 2013

I wish more organizations would take KM as seriously.

08:14 GDTPermanent link to #GurteenTalk# GurteenTalk - Comments

I have a new section on my website entitled Gurteen Talk. It is essentially a list of Tweets that I have posted on Twitter with the hash-tag #GurteenTalk.

Each tweet contains a link to a substantive article or blog post that focuses on "Organizational Conversation" or other related topics. If you click through on any of the links you will be taken to a page on my website that not only contains the Tweet but a fuller description of the article that it links to.

This may seem a strange thing to do but it is part of a long term project of mine to use Twitter as a shared book marking tool to book mark such blog posts and articles

In doing this, I am not only building up a library of articles on "conversation" for my own use but it is also automatically shared with people with similar interests.

You can see the actual Tweets below and the GurteenTalk section of my website here.

Saturday 21 September 2013

21:34 GDTPermanent link to #KM Asia - Why is trying to engage people so difficult?# KM Asia - Why is trying to engage people so difficult? - Comments

At KM Asia 2013 in Singapore in November I will be running a Knowledge Cafe as part of the plenary session and facilitating a post-conference workshop.

Nancy Dixon will be speaking and chairing and of course the event would not be complete without Dave Snowden and Ron Young.

I always love visiting Singapore and hope to see many of you there from SE Asia and even farther a field. :-)
Gurteen Knowledge Cafe: Why is trying to engage people so difficult?

Trying to engage people or to motivate them to share their knowledge and to work more collaboratively together is a challenge for many organisations.

What are we doing wrong? What are we missing? Is there something we don't understand about human nature? Are our actions such as rewards and recognition only make things worse?

These are the questions that will drive the conversation in this Gurteen Knowledge Cafe.

Interestingly, I just came across this article Forget Employee Engagement; U.S. Companies Need Passionate Workers that provides some food for thought.
Workshop: Conversation: Our most powerful Knowledge Management tool

Face to face conversation is our most effective Knowledge Management tool. It is critical in communication, learning, knowledge sharing, and relationship building.

It could even be argued that it is our most powerful business tool.

Conversation is the medium through which we make sense of the world. It is the key to better decision making and innovation.

To communicate effectively takes dialogue - face to face conversation in which we enter with a willingness to learn - not to win an argument.

Our primary role as KM leaders is to architect such conversations and to convene and facilitate them.

We have an array of tools at our disposal to do this: peer-assists, after-action-reviews and knowledge cafes to name just a few.

In this highly interactive, conversational workshop, we will explore the role of conversation in business and the conversational tools that are available to address a diversity of business issues.

20:09 GDTPermanent link to #Where to ask questions about KM# Where to ask questions about KM - Comments

I am often asked questions by email about KM and other business topics for that matter. I get maybe 3 or 4 such emails each week. I don't mind questions, in fact I encourage them, especially ones pertinent to my work around "organizational conversation" and my knowledge cafes. I love questions that I can't answer as these often provoke a lot of thinking and googling on the issue on my part and consequently some good learning.

But far to often, I get questions like "David, could you tell me everything there is to know about Knowledge Management?" Yes, really I have had that question. If I am feeling churlish I give them this link here where they will find everything they could possible ever want to know. LOL

If I am feeling more charitable I point them to the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn. The discussion forum has now grown to over 4,000 members and is one of the more active of the KM LinkedIn groups. Its a good place to get answers to your questions though there are many other KM forums to chose from.

You can join LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join and the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group here : http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539.

And feel free to invite me to connect with you.

13:13 GDTPermanent link to #The SIKM Leaders Community# The SIKM Leaders Community - Comments

I recently gave a talk for the SIKM Leaders Community on Organizational Conversation. You will find the slides here and the audio recording here.

I felt rather guilty as Stan Garfield has been running the community for over 7 years and this is the first time I have listened in or taken part. Its a simple format for giving talks over the web but works well.

Over the years Stan has had some great speakers and has more coming up. Take a look, join up and tune in to the next talk :-) If you are new to KM its a great way to learn and get up to speed on KM topics and issues.
The SIKM Leaders Community is a community of Knowledge Management leaders from around the world. It was created in 2005 and is open to all KM practitioners. The goal is to share experiences and insights on implementing KM programs. Diverse opinions are welcome if expressed in a supportive and collaborative manner.

The community hold calls on the third Tuesday of each month from 11am-12pm US Eastern Time. The 100th call was held in September, 2013.

Past presenters have included Kate Pugh, Larry Prusak, David Gurteen, Etienne Wenger, Thomas Vander Wal, Richard McDermott, Kent Greenes, Jack Vinson, Frank Leistner, Raj Datta, Shawn Callahan, Tom Davenport, Dan Ranta, Verna Allee, Steve Denning, Carla O'Dell. John McQuary, James Robertson, John Hagel, Marcia Conner, Patrick Lambe, Bill Ives, Patti Anklam, Arthur Shelley, Nancy White, Hubert Saint-Onge, and David Weinberger.

Future presenters include Alexis Adair, Murray Jennex, Nancy Dixon, Catherine Shinners, Steve Wieneke, Steve Kaukonen & Thomas Hsu, Thomas Blumer, Karla Phlypo, Gordon Vala-Webb, Curtis Conley, Tony Byrne, Marcie Zaharee & Frank Linton, Lee Romero, Mary Abraham, Al Simard, and Roberto Evaristo.

To join the community, go here and click on + Join Group.

Once you have joined, to see future calls, go here and click on Date three times.

Friday 20 September 2013

09:51 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for August to September 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

08:34 GDTPermanent link to #Mille Mille's first Knowledge Cafe - Comments

Earlier in the year I ran a Gurteen Knowledge Cafe masterclass in Copenhagen. One of the participants was Mille Holm Nielsen, so I was delighted to receive this little email from her a few days ago.

Dear David

Last week I held my first Knowledge Café, and it was a great success.

We were approximately 20 people together (from management to engineers) and needed to discuss how to ensure that we use learning and improve our daily business, processes etc. I had 5 tables of 4 people and ran 3 rounds with the big circle in the end.

The feedback I have received has been very positive. They enjoyed that they could just focus on the conversation and discuss a lot of different ideas with different people, and all the time got new inspiration when they changed tables.

So it was a very good experience, and I will definitely use it again, when I see a proper topic for the occasion.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Best regards, Mille
Mille Holm Nielsen
Siemens A/S
Copenhagen, Denmark

Have you run a Knowledge Cafe yet? If not, then ask me for a copy of my tipsheet to help get you started. I have it available in a number of languages. Or ask my about my masterclasses. I have several planned around the world in 2014. The first in Oslo late January.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

14:43 GDTPermanent link to #Drive out fear. Eliminate management by objective.# Drive out fear. Eliminate management by objective. - Comments

Many years ago when I worked at Lotus Development we had a similar yearly review system to the one described in this article The Poisonous Employee-Ranking System That Helps Explain Microsoft's Decline.

I hated it then, mainly as it was gamed, long before I fully realised the consequences and its impact on knowledge sharing and collaborative behaviours.
One of the most valuable things I learned was to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn't get ahead of me on the rankings.

Have we also learnt nothing from W.Edwards Deming and his fourteen key principles for management for transforming business effectiveness? Note items 8 and 11b!
  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, learn their responsibilities and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease cost.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership – the aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear , so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective . Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute workmanship.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See CH. 3 of “Out of the Crisis”).
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everyone’s work.

12:51 GDTPermanent link to #Funny, ethereal stuff is knowledge# Funny, ethereal stuff is knowledge - Comments

A few thoughts of mine on the nature of knowledge inspired by this blogpost Don't worry - nobody can steal your knowledge from Harold Jarche.

We talk all the time in the KM world about sharing, transferring or capturing knowledge. But we can't really do this.

Knowledge only exists in the human mind. On paper, or in a database or even when encoded in our voice it is information - a fuzzy, poor representation of our knowledge at one moment in time, incomplete and lacking full context.

It means that I cannot give you my knowledge directly and you cannot give me yours. It is always transferred via some encoded form of information. Knowledge is encoded as information and then knowledge in the mind of the receiver is used to reconstruct that information back into knowledge. A funny kind of process in which so much gets lost and distorted along the way. Yes, you can argue that knowledge is ultimately shared or transferred but it is far from a perfect process.

When we talk or interact, neither of us has any control over what the other pays attention to or takes away in their heads. Its the same with reading, two people will read the same book or report and learn and draw very different conclusions from it. It may be a lot. It may be nothing at all. It may be the opposite of what we were trying to convey. It may even be confusion.

We know this but we still talk about knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer. We simply can't transfer knowledge in the true meaning of the word. Its the wrong metaphor to describe the process that takes place though we seem to be stuck with it.

All we can do is to help each other develop each others knowledge. Knowledge is not static. It is not a thing. It is dynamic and ever changing.

In conversation, new knowledge can emerge. Knowledge in my head and knowledge in yours. It will never be the same knowledge. And as we go away and reflect on things and connect things it will change. And each time we recall it, It will emerge a little different.

Funny, ethereal stuff is knowledge. No wonder we find it so difficult to "manage".

David Gurteen
Theodore Zeldin sums it up nicely here:
Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits.

When minds meet, they don't just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought.

Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.

Our most effective tool for sharing knowledge is conversation as Nancy Dixon explains in this blog post from 2011 Conversations That Share Tacit Knowledge and this more recent one We Know More Than We Can Say: The Paradox of Tacit Knowledge - Part One which several people on Twitter retitled "Why can't we just write it down?"

Both these posts are well worth a read.

12:22 GDTPermanent link to #The McGurk Effect: You don The McGurk Effect: You don't just hear with your ears - Comments

This video from the BBC Two Horizon: Is Seeing Believing? on the McGurk Effect will change the way you think about your senses and the way you perceive things for ever. Can you ever trust what you you hear again?

Thanks to @hjarche and @jaycross for drawling my attention to this via Twitter.

12:12 GDTPermanent link to #Weibo is to Twitter as YouKu is to YouTube# Weibo is to Twitter as YouKu is to YouTube - Comments

I am pretty well connected with the KM Community around the globe except in China.

Maybe that is about to change a little as I now have a Weibo account and a YouKu account thanks to Lesley Zhang.

Weibo is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. As of 2012 it had approximately 503 million registered users and 100 million daily tweets verses Twitter's 500 million users and; 340 million daily tweets so its not so far behind.

Not too surprisingly YouKu is the equivalent of YouTube. It is it is the second largest video site in the world with an Alexa ranking just after YouTube.

Am I fluent in Chinese? No! Lesley set them up for me and Google Translate is just about sufficient to see me through.

I have not posted a lot yet but then I have no followers. So to my 375 community members In China and the Chinese diaspora around the world - follow me and I will start to post.

Oh yes, Lesley has done one more thing for me. She has translated my Knowledge Cafe Tipsheet into Chinese. Drop me a line if you would like a copy.

A big thanks Lesley for all your help :-)

Thursday 22 August 2013

15:02 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the August 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the August 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

These days my mission is more and more focused on the role of conversation in business and in particular the development of the Knowledge Cafe. To this end, I have a whole load of Knowledge Cafes coming up in various guises. Most of them are public, so come along if you can make it and get to know what it's all about.

I am sorry these events are mostly in the UK but if you would like me to run a Knowledge Cafe or workshop in your area or for your organisation then drop me a line and I will send you a document that describes the various ways in which I teach and run the Knowledge Cafe.

14:39 GDTPermanent link to #KM Asia 2013 will be chaired by Nancy Dixon# KM Asia 2013 will be chaired by Nancy Dixon - Comments

Ark Group have just published the final agenda for KM Asia 2013 in Singapore.

I will be there running a Knowledge Cafe on Why is Trying to Engage People so Difficult? on the first day and a workshop on the third day Conversation: Our Most Powerful KM Tool.

But better still, in making the whole conference more interactive and conversational we have Nancy Dixon chairing the two days.

Nancy is a huge proponent of conversation in the workplace. If you are not familiar with Nancy's work take a look at her blog and posts of hers such as this one Why Knowledge Management Didn't Save General Motors: Addressing Complex Issues By Convening Conversation.

This is what she says about herself in her blog "Nancy Dixon focuses on the people side of knowledge management. Our most effective knowledge sharing tool is conversation. The words we choose, the questions we ask, and the metaphors we use to explain ourselves, are what determine our success in creating new knowledge, as well as sharing that knowledge with each other."

It should prove to be a great two days. I hope to see you there :-)

Wednesday 21 August 2013

16:46 GDTPermanent link to #What is Knowledge Management and why do we need it?# What is Knowledge Management and why do we need it? - Comments

Some time back I shot a whole series of mini-interviews where I asked people "What is Knowledge Management?" and I posted them to Google Video and embedded them on my website.

That of course turned out to be a bad decision as when Google bought YouTube they canned Google Video and all the uploaded videos along with it.

Well, I have at last tidied everything up and seem to have only lost one or two of the videos. You can find them here on YouTube as playlist.

Or you can view them on the embedded media player on my website.

If the mood takes me when I next get the opportunity, inspired by this blog post Cracking the KM code: start by asking why not what by David Griffiths, I will shoot a few more videos and ask the more interesting question "Why do we need Knowledge Management?".

16:05 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: August 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: August 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for July to August 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

12:39 GDTPermanent link to #50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management"# 50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management" - Comments

Earlier this year Academic Publishing International published Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management.

The book is a collection of ten academic papers that I carefully selected to create the volume and wrote a short editorial comment on each paper.

You can now purchase the book at a 50% discount by quoting the code SKM50 when you order online.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

10:13 GDTPermanent link to #Nancy Dixon and I are looking for stories# Nancy Dixon and I are looking for stories - Comments

Nancy Dixon and I are both interested in the role conversation pays in business and we are looking for stories. Nancy is specifically looking for stories like this one that she recently posted in her blog Collective Sensemaking: How One Organization uses the Oscillation Principle. This is an inspiring story of an organisation that has applied what Nancy calls the "Oscillation Principle".

In global organizations or teams, effective performance outcomes are associated with the rhythmic oscillation between lengthy periods of mediated interaction interspersed with short intense periods of face-to-face collective sensemaking.

The deep rhythm of oscillation between face-to-face meetings for collective sensemaking and virtual work, addresses one of the greatest deficits of a virtual work force, that is, one part of the organization takes action without reference to how that action may impact other parts of the organization or impact the whole.

Through collective sensemaking all perspectives on a topic are given voice so that an understanding of the whole emerges as well as clarity about the relationship between the parts.

In such conversations organizational members often discover assets of which they were unaware.

Of equal importance, the periods of collective sensemaking renew the trust and relationships which are a precondition for the collaboration and information exchange that are limited to mediated interaction when organizational members are again at a distance.

Credit: The Oscillation Principle by Nancy Dixon
Many organisations may be doing this but not have a label for it. If your organisation is doing anything like this or if you know of one that is or if you know of articles or blog posts that describe this sort of organising principle or anything a little like it then we would be interested to know.

My interest is broader, I am looking for stories of organisations that have taken the role of "conversation" seriously in their business and are deliberately using it to share perspectives, to make better sense of their environment, to build relationships, make better decisions and to innovate.

If you can help get in touch with me and I will connect you with Nancy.

10:02 GDTPermanent link to #What role does conversation play in the work you do?# What role does conversation play in the work you do? - Comments

I recently emailed an old friend whom I had not seen for a long time and who works in the knowledge transfer field to catch up. In my email I asked her:

"What sort of role does conversation play in the work you do?"

To which she replied:

"What a bizarre question, what role do conversations play? Interesting space you are operating in these days!"

and in return I responded:

"Maybe I should ask more such questions of people ... not looking for an answer but to provoke thought but of course I have no control over what thoughts I provoke in people's minds - it could just be ridicule LOL. What I had in mind - was more "what role does conversation play in transferring knowledge in what you do" or is it just the explicit stuff that you deal in?

She hasn't replied to me yet so I can't speak for her but it occurs to me that many people do not recognise conversation as a "knowledge transfer" tool.

But I do like the idea of asking more people the question "What role does conversation play in your work?". Is it so bizarre a question? What role does it play in yours?

09:24 GDTPermanent link to #KM UK 2013: Knowledge Cafe: Should we be using rewards and recognition to motivate knowledge sharing?# KM UK 2013: Knowledge Cafe: Should we be using rewards and recognition to motivate knowledge sharing? - Comments

At the end of the first day of KM UK recently I ran a Knowledge Cafe but with a difference. When it came to setting the theme and posing the question I used a short video compilation that I had put together using the YouTube Video Editor. Here is the video.

It starts with a series of short clips that I used to seed the conversation. Clips from Alfie Kohn, Dan Pink, The Office and myself.

Next I posed the question "Should we be using rewards and recognition to motivate knowledge sharing?"

The video then includes a clip of the small group conversations in the Cafe itself, followed by some comments by Paul Corney (the conference chair) and interviews with Mark Field and Florence Kiff, two of the conference participants.

It gives a good feel for the Cafe concept and the event on the day but note that the tables were far too large for a good conversation as many of them had 6, 7 or 8 people, some even more. The Cafe works best with people sitting in groups of 3, 4 or 5 in touching distance of each other.

I got some good feedback - here is the complete unabridged list :
  • Thought-provoking, useful.
  • Good time for conversation. Great use of video.
  • Very energizing. We need more of these. Would have preferred more talking.
  • At last. A chance to talk and listen. Was there any consensus/answer?
  • Good refresher in conference to have group discussion. Have more of these break-outs.
  • Knowledge café always very powerful and interactive.
  • Brilliant as usual.
  • Great debate on reward and motivation.
  • Very interesting session and good finish to the day (but too long!)
  • Enjoyed the knowledge of café experience.
  • Perhaps the example was a little out of date but achieved its purpose of getting people to exchange ideas and a refreshing change to move around. Thought-provoking, useful.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

14:07 GDTPermanent link to #KM Doctoral Dissertations: free to view online# KM Doctoral Dissertations: free to view online - Comments

Academic Conferences and Publishing International have started to publish a number of Doctoral Dissertations online.

This includes several KM Dissertations. You can view them online or order a paper copy.

12:22 GDTPermanent link to #The 3 Davids of KM: Knowledge Management Workshops# The 3 Davids of KM: Knowledge Management Workshops - Comments

On the evenings of 24th and 26th September, TallyFox is hosting a Knowledge Management Workshop and networking reception at BAFTA in London.

And then again on the afternoon of 9th October they are hosting another in Frankfurt.

There will be three speakers with whom I hope you are familiar - David Snowden, David Griffiths and myself - "the three David's of KM". Interestingly, all three of us are Welsh as well.

This a great opportunity to hear our thoughts about KM and to have some interesting conversations.

You will find more details here. The workshops are free.

12:12 GDTPermanent link to #Drum Struck at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival# Drum Struck at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - Comments

You may remember that at the ICKM Conference in Joburg last year I ran a combined Knowledge Cafe/Drum Cafe event to open the conference with Warren Lieberman who became a good new friend.

As I said at the time "Knowledge Cafes bring people together to connect and to have conversations while Drum Cafes connect and energise people through Interactive Drumming. A wonderful combination."

Well, if you will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 1 - 26 Aug then get along to Drum Struck

There is a drum on every seat for the audience to play along with the world's finest drummers, dancers and singers.

Learn to play an African drum, and meet the Ubuntu Queen.

This show is guaranteed to enchant, enthral, lift your spirits and send you off on a high.

I know from experience you will have an amazing time.

This video playlist captures the energy and engagement in the room at ICKM 2012. It was a great way to start a conference.

Monday 22 July 2013

21:03 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: July 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: July 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for June to July 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

  • 10 KM Implementation approaches from @ChrisCollison http://bit.ly/12JfMwY #KM

  • The Art of Knowledge Exchange http://bit.ly/12E1wWr /a great guide from the World Bank #KM

  • Academic Conferences and Publishing Int'l: 4 KM doctoral dissertations here http://bit.ly/13ebxxT #KM

  • Leading for the future: a model from the British Army http://bit.ly/1dwWoJL #KM

  • Creating Conversational Trust http://bit.ly/135tD59 #GurteenTalk #TalkInc

  • Language is our genes talking: How language transformed humanity http://bit.ly/135vKWw #GurteenTalk /fascinating TEDTalk

  • Group Discussion: Interactive Dialogue or Serial Monologue? The Influence of Group Size http://bit.ly/12sRagJ #GurteenTalk

  • Creating Shared Meaning: There is a profound difference between information and meaning #GurteenTalk

  • The main problem with KM systems is that they do not copy how real people think @Hjarche http://bit.ly/12qWEUr #KM

  • For individuals, the core skill is critical thinking, or questioning all assumptions, including one's own http://bit.ly/155W3ub #KM

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Monday 15 July 2013

12:37 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the July 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the July 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I have just been following the Tweets from the last day of KM Australia this morning and discovered this compilation of material from the event collated by Eventifier.

Seems Eventifier collates all event related contents from various social media streams like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Slideshare and more. Its a great idea to pull all this stuff into one central archive. I hope it catches on.

I am looking forward to hearing how the conversatonal format worked this year and I am looking forward to chairing the event next year. Sydney is one of my favorite cities.

Sunday 23 June 2013

18:20 GDTPermanent link to #My daughter Lauren is a writer and a lover of stories# My daughter Lauren is a writer and a lover of stories - Comments

I have two daughters who love to write and both love cats, hence their blogs: The Curious Cat and The Cafe Cat

My daughter Lauren aka the Curious Cat clearly gets what a blog is all about as evidenced in a post at the start of the year. Here is an extract:
... I've always been good at keeping a diary or in recent years - a blog. There are few rules to keeping a diary. It is personal so you can write how you want. You can go off on tangents, leave untied ends ... a diary is not a work of art that needs to be tailored and edited.

It is a collection of musings and thoughts ... it is like the mathematical workings out on a page before you reach the answer ... and sometimes you never reach the answer. It suits my wondering brain just fine. Even as I write these words I have no idea when I will draw a close to this entry.

If I grow bored and fancy switching to another task I'll wrap things up rapido. If I'm feeling more thoughtful I'll work a little harder to shape the words into a nice general conclusion.

... I write for me and me alone. I write because it clears my head, I write because it helps me to explore my thoughts and feelings - like that mathematical equation simile I just made.

I write because I enjoy it, it makes me happy. It is my hobby and I like how it compliments my life. I will dare to call myself a writer even if I have no backlist of 'serious' work to support the claim.

16:16 GDTPermanent link to #To improve learning - don To improve learning - don't speak or write with conviction - Comments

I came across this blog post by Nancy Dixon recently Bringing the Flow of Knowledge to a Standstill by Speaking with Conviction in which she says
One way of talking that inhibits the exchange of knowledge is speaking with conviction.

That may seem contrary to what we've all learned in communication and leadership workshops, where one of the lessons often taught is to speak with confidence- “sound like you mean it”.

Yet, as I examine conversations in the work setting, stating an idea with conviction tends to send a signal to others that the speaker is closed to new ideas.

When speaking with conviction people sound as though no other idea is possible, as though the answer is, or should be, obvious.

I agree with Nancy. I think even when we are totally convinced that what we believe is true, it serves no useful purpose to say it with great conviction other than to annoy people. If you wish to convince someone then you have got be open to being shown to be wrong or to discover that you are talking at cross-purposes.

Several people have told me over the years that when see someone doing or saying something wrong that they just to have topoint it out to them in no uncertain terms- that they "have to learn".

Now this might make them feel good but in my experience and from what I can see from the behavioural research it does not work. It only serves to harden their opinions and increase their dislike of you. If you wish to convince someone then you have to be open to a two way conversation of equals.

Nancy's post also reminds me of the work of Ellen Langer and her book The Power of Mindful Learning. Ellen is a professor of psychology at Harvard University and her behavioural research challenges many myths about learning.
One of the pervading views in education is that in order to learn a skill one must practice until the action takes place without thought. Performing a skill over and over again so that it becomes second nature may lead to thoughtless or mindless interaction with the skill or concept. Mindlessness is a hindrance to discovery. Discovery often occurs because of a variance of the "basics".

Teaching in a conditional manner allows the learner to recognize that there may be varying situations that require a varied response. Teachers often eliminate factors that would lead students away from the "correct" outcome. We come to learn that events occur in a predictable manner and lose sight of some of the factors that contribute to the outcome. For example, physics students are instructed to neglect friction for most of the situations they deal with. This produces a discrepancy between actual and theoretical results and may dampen a students ability to see distinctions.

Research has shown that information presented conditionally versus in absolute form enhances the creativity of the students. In a study done by Alison Piper, groups of students were given information on a set of objects conditionally and in absolute form. The students that were given the information conditionally had a tendency to be more creative than the students that had the information presented in absolute form.

The standard approach to teaching new skills rely on either lecturing to instruct students or using direct experience to instruct students. Ellen Langer proposes a third approach which she calls "sideways learning". Sideways learning involves maintaining a mindful state that is characterized by openness to novelty, alertness to distinction, sensitivity to different contexts, awareness of multiple perspectives, and orientation in the present. The standard approach involves breaking down a task into discrete parts which may stifle novelty and alertness to distinction. Sideways learning makes it possible to create unlimited categories and distinctions. The distinctions are essential to mindfulness.

Langer asks and answers the question, "Can a text teach mindfully?" She gives examples of obscure tax code and the ability of students to apply the code to a variety of situations. Students that read the section of tax code in its original language had a more difficult time adjusting to situations that weren't spelled out in the code. The group of the students that studied the code that was slightly altered with "could be" and "possibly" instead of "is" were more successful in application.

So her research shows that writing with conviction also hinders learning

The lesson here is that contrary to popular belief if you wish people to learn from you than do not speak or write with conviction!

12:46 GDTPermanent link to #Knowledge Management Initiatives in the Public Sector in Singapore and Dubai# Knowledge Management Initiatives in the Public Sector in Singapore and Dubai - Comments

An excellent new book Knowledge Management Initiatives in Singapore has been recently published by two good friends of mine Margaret Tan and Madan Rao.

Margaret Tan is the Associate Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Madan Rao is a KM author and consultant based in Bangalore.

The book focuses on 12 organisations from the Singapore Public sector that won the knowledge management excellence awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010 run by the Information and Knowledge Management Society of Singapore
  • Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA)
  • National Library Board (NLB)
  • Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
  • Ministry of Finance (MOF)
  • Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)
  • Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)
  • Supreme Court of Singapore (SC)
  • Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS)
  • Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC)
  • Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC)
  • Singapore Police Force: Police Technology Department (SPF-PTD)
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
The book shares the knowledge, experiences, perspectives and practical learning of these organisations' KM journeys.

You will find more information about the book here, including the forward by Dave Snowden

You may also be interested in this report that looks at Public Sector KM initiatives in Dubai: Knowledge Management in the UAE's Public Sector: The Case of Dubai by Mhamed Biygautane and Khalid Al-Yahya of the Dubai School of Government.

Whenever, I visit Dubai I can't help but draw comparisons with Singapore but I am sure I only see the surface similarities. This article Dubai vs Singapore - Economy written in 2010 gives a more in depth analysis. It would be interesting to compare the approach to KM in the two public sectors.

11:59 GDTPermanent link to #Can you really optimise an organisation Can you really optimise an organisation's performance? - Comments

A pet peeve: I squirm whenever I read an article or an ad that talks about "maximising profits" or "minimising costs" or "optimising performance". For me, the author's credibility drops through the floor.

You may be able to optimise the performance of a machine but in the complex social as world, it is impossible to minimise, maximise or optimise anything there are always unintended consequences, trade-offs and balances.

You may be able to increase worker productivity by putting them under pressure or cut costs by paying them less but when they leave the organisation as a result, you lose valuable knowledge and experience and incur hiring and training costs. There is a balance to be struck and there can never be any optimisation as such.

Talking about optimising the performance of your organisation makes no sense - even if you had optimised performance - how would you ever possibly know?

The word these authors should be using is "improving" but "optimising" your performance sounds so much grander than merely improving it!

10:45 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for May to June 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Friday 21 June 2013

20:54 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the June 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the June 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

The Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn has grown to almost 4,000 members and is one of the more active of the KM LinkedIn groups. There are a number of interesting threads but if you are interested in why various people got involved in Knowledge Management then take a look at Does anyone mind sharing WHY they went into Knowledge Management?

You can join LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join and the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group here : http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539

I'll be at KM UK this week in London and look forward to seeing a few of you there.

I'll be running a Knowledge Cafe at the end the first day. Given that all the research says rewards are ineffective, if not downright harmful, I will be asking if we should still be using rewards to motivate knowledge sharing.

I will be setting the context for the KCafe using a re-mixed YouTube video that I have created that includes video clips from Alfie Kohn, Dan Pink and a scene from the American version of "The Office". If you have not taken a look at the YouTube video editor yet, it is a powerful tool and exceptionally easy to use. I can see myself using it a lot more in the future.

I have only ever trigged a Knowledge Cafe with a video once or twice in the past so this is a bit of an experiment. I will release the video after the event.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

11:06 GDTPermanent link to #Maybe the real value of a good talk is not in the learning at all# Maybe the real value of a good talk is not in the learning at all - Comments

This is an interesting piece of research: Is This Why TED Talks Seem So Convincing? that Johnnie Moore points me to in his blog post The popcorn of learning: And here is the original paper: Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Instructor Fluency Increases Perceptions of Learning Without Increasing Actual Learning.

It seems that we over estimate the learning that we gain through a well delivered presentation such as a TED Talk and that in reality we only learn marginally more from a fluent presenter than we do from a boring one who just reads his or her notes.

We need to keep in mind that this was a rather limited study and probably does not represent fully the true picture. Nevertheless, its a significant and somewhat counter-intuitive finding.

One personal reflection though is that people may be over estimating the value as they enjoyed the more fluent presentation. They were better entertained and felt more stimulated but in reality did not learn a whole lot more than a boring talk.

I see an analogous response when I talk at conferences or workshops about rewards and the fact that the research shows they are ineffective. The most common response to this - is "But I enjoy being rewarded".

There is a big difference though between enjoying something and it being beneficial or good for you!

Another thought. For me what makes a good talk is not the "learning value" but the "inspirational value". The value for me in a talk is if it provokes me to go away and take some form of action such as to do more research of my own on the topic or to actually follow through on some of the "new trains of thought" that an inspiring talk has triggered in my head. Or the conversations it inspires and triggers.

In other words, maybe the real value of a good talk is not in the learning at all.

Sunday 26 May 2013

19:33 GDTPermanent link to #Knowledge Cafe Masterclass Update# Knowledge Cafe Masterclass Update - Comments

I mentioned recently that I was looking for business partners to help me run my Knowledge Cafe Masterclasses.

Well, two of these have so far come to fruition.

The first in Copenhagen on 4 June: Knowledge Café: Facilitér effektiv videndeling i din organisation

And the second in Oslo on 20 June: David Gurteens Kunnskap Café

I am planning to run more in various countries around the world - so get in touch if you think you can help.

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe: SMARTlab at the University of East London

Knowledge Cafés as KM Tools. KM India 2010

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe at KMPAP 2006 in Hong Kong
Introduction to the Knowledge Cafe, Greenwich 2006
KM Egypt
Cairo, 2010
About the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe, 2009

13:21 GDTPermanent link to #What is a MOOC? It What is a MOOC? It's a Massive Open Online Course. - Comments

If you have ever wondered what a MOOC is but never taken the time to Google it then take e a look at this blog post by Stephen Dale MOOC's – What Are They?

It's a really good overview based on his own experience of participating in one.

What jumped out at me towards the end of the post was this:

Education is primarily driven by motivation, and online learning doesn't do anything to address people's motivational needs. In fact, the nature of online education strips away many of the components that keep students engaged and committed.

Many of the factors that online education advocates claim are a benefit, such as time flexibility and the lack of classrooms, are actually a hindrance to learning.

Studies have shown that a fixed structure and the sense of belonging that comes from a student body improve completion rates.

Allowing students to study on their own removes these components of the support system resulting in lower rates of course completion.

Like Steve, I am not so sure I totally agree but it does remind me of this quotation from Plutarch:

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

Seems to me, this is the key point that is missed in education time and time again.

Saturday 25 May 2013

16:27 GDTPermanent link to #Why size matters: groups, dialog and high quality participation# Why size matters: groups, dialog and high quality participation - Comments

I recently attributed my discovery of a research paper: Group Discussion as Interactive Dialogue or as Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size by Nicolas Fay; Simon Garrod; Jean Carletta to Keith de la Rue.

I was wrong. Stephen Mugford pointed me to it via this great SlideShare presentation of his: Why size matters: groups, dialog and high quality participation. My apologies Stephen.

It also includes some interesting comments on How to Run a Good Conference from the late Aaron Swartz

16:27 GDTPermanent link to #We are betrayed by what we laugh at# We are betrayed by what we laugh at - Comments

The words we choose, the metaphors we use, reveal our personality; our attitudes and our thinking.

This is true of face to face conversation and to a lesser degree compuer-based communication. When we communicate electronically we have the ability to edit what we say before we send it but in face to face conversation - things we intend to conceal slip out in the heat of the moment.

But what I think really reveals us - even betrays us - is what we find funny - the jokes we tell and what we laugh at or even what we don't find humorous. Often a grin or a wry smile gives us away.

Our sense of humour is something we find hard to fake or suppress
There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at.

Yet another reason why face to face conversation is so powerful.

13:44 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for April to May 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Friday 10 May 2013

09:11 GDTPermanent link to #There There's kids in here who don't learn like that, they need to learn face-to-face. - Comments

You may well have seen this video as it has gone viral. In it, Jeff Bliss, a High School Student in Duncanville, Texas rants at his history teacher about her teaching methods after being kicked out of class. Here are a few things he says in the rant:

"If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freaking packet, yo. There's kids in here who don't learn like that, they need to learn face-to-face."

"You want kids to come to class? You want them to get excited? You gotta come in here, you gotta make 'em excited, to change him and make him better, you gotta touch his freakin' heart.”

And later in an interview he says this: "I want to see a teacher stand up and interact with the students, get involved, discuss, talk, question and dig deep into the subject."

I was educated at a traditional boy's grammar school - most of the teaching was by "chalk and talk" delivered by crusty, aging, male school masters. Strangely, it was considered a good education at the time but one would have hoped that the world had moved on in 50 years since I was a boy.

If this teacher was really "teaching" her class by "handing them freaking packets" then surely that's a retrograde step.

If we are to stand any chance of saving our civilisation education must be transformed.

Original rant by Jeff Bliss in the classroom

Interview with Jeff Bliss

09:11 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the May 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the May 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Many of you who have participated in one of my knowledge cafes or masterclasses in the past will have received an English version of my Knowledge Cafe Tipsheet.

I am now translating it into a number of local languages.

So far I have the Norwegian (thanks Renny Amundsen), Danish (thanks Bent Schou) and Malaysian (thanks Bank Negara Malaysia) versions complete with Dutch, German, Portuguese, Arabic and Thai in the works and many more planned.

Let me know if you would like a copy of the tipsheet in your language or contact me if you would be happy to translate it into your language for me.

Friday 19 April 2013

16:45 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for March to April 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

16:20 GDTPermanent link to #2013 Top 100 Twitter Influencers in Knowledge Management# 2013 Top 100 Twitter Influencers in Knowledge Management - Comments

MindTouch has recently analysed Knowledge Management influencers and produced a top 100 list.

They add the caveat that they know there are several profoundly influential people not represented on the list and that it should be clear that the list constitutes a core group of influencers in the KM space on Twitter.

I am honoured to be number two on the list but take it with "a big pinch of salt" - ignore the order and it's not too difficult to spot anomalies but if you are looking for KM people to follow its a good resource.

15:55 GDTPermanent link to #Interactive Dialogue or Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size on conversation# Interactive Dialogue or Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size on conversation - Comments

Over the years, in running my Knowledge Cafes, I have discovered through trial and error and careful observation that the ideal size of a group for interactive conversation is four people. If not four, then five is OK but three is better.

Anything more than five and the conversation does not work so well: one or two people tend to dominate; the conversation breaks into two, even three; frequently one person is totally cut out of the interaction and there is little energy in the group.

This research paper (via Keith de la Rue) confirms my observations.

Current communication models draw a broad distinction between communication as dialogue and communication as monologue. The two kinds of models have different implications for who influences whom in a group discussion.

The experiments reported in this paper show that in small, 5-person groups, the communication is like dialogue and members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion.

However, in large, 10-person groups, the communication is like monologue and members are influenced most by the dominant speaker.

The difference in mode of communication is explained in terms of how speakers in the two sizes of groups design their utterances for different audiences.

14:58 GDTPermanent link to #"Lectorial" rooms: shifting the emphasis to active student-centred learning# "Lectorial" rooms: shifting the emphasis to active student-centred learning - Comments

Stuart French emailed me a while back to tell me that they had held their last KMLF meeting in Melbourne at the new RMIT Swanston Academic building and that he thought you might like to know about the custom designed “Lectorial” rooms that have been especially designed for the teach-discuss-share model to encourage the students to participate in a collaborative and constructivist style of learning.

To quote the paper: Final report for the Lectorial Project: Trialling the use of Lectorials to enhance learning and teaching in large classes.

"Literature indicates that shifting the emphasis to active student-centred learning has significant outcomes in terms of increasing student engagement, problem solving ability and positive learning outcomes."

This is what the new spaces look like.

As Stuart points out "This is so close to your knowledge café format and I am excited that you beat the curve by ten years or so. Well done."

Wow! I am excited too .... so good to see at least one educational institution making the change :-)

But an observation, to my mind, the tables are too large for good interaction they should be smaller and only seat 4-5 people.

13:30 GDTPermanent link to #Do not pursue life sitting upon another man Do not pursue life sitting upon another man's shoulders - Comments

Quotations are extremely effective at capturing and concisely communicating thoughts and ideas. They can be inspirational but more importantly quotations can help us reveal and assess the assumptions, values and beliefs that underlie the ways in which we perceive the world.

I have compiled nearly 1,000 quotations and short excerpts on my website. It is an eclectic mix but most of them are inspirational or insightful in nature and relate to knowledge, learning or personal development in some form.

If you love quotations then you may like to subscribe to receive a quote once a week or more frequently by e-mail.

You can also subscribe to an RSS feed Gurteen Daily Knowledge Quotes that will deliver a quote to your newsreader each day. Or you can follow GurteenQuotes on Twitter and receive a quote there each day.

Here is one that popped up in my in-box the other day from one of my favourite human beings of all times - Henry David Thoreau.

It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.

If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders.

Playlist: Henry David Thoreau

Life in the Woods. Henry David Thoreau

Media Information: Image

12:17 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the April 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the April 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

If you want ACTION, don't write.
Go and tell the guy what you want.

Some sound advise here from David Ogilivy. We send an email when we would do better to walk around to the person we wish to engage and have a conversation with them or failing that pick up the phone.

In reading this, I made a connection with a statement by Peter Block that struck me when I read it at the time.

Connection -- We must establish a personal connection with each other.

Connection before content. Without relatedness, no work can occur.

It's basically the same idea, we need to engage people and build a relationship with them before we get down to the nitty-gritty. The best way to do this is face to face.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

15:06 GDTPermanent link to #Free Access to Knowledge Management Research & Practice (KMRP) until May 10th# Free Access to Knowledge Management Research & Practice (KMRP) until May 10th - Comments

Knowledge Management Research & Practice has been included in Palgrave Macmillan's ACCESS ALL AREAS campaign throughout this April - enabling free online access to Palgrave's complete portfolio of journals spanning Business, the Humanities and the Social Sciences.

Palgrave have kindly extended free access to KMRP for an extra few days to the Gurteen Knowledge Community - so if you haven't had time to browse the journal so far, then you have a little more time to do so!

Don't know where to start? Try 10 articles from 10 years: celebrating KMRP's first decade of publication

Or with context becoming a key part of future KM research, maybe try a selection of wide-ranging case studies which reflect both innovative approaches to knowledge management and its diverse reach.

Or maybe just pick an issue from the archive and dive in!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

15:54 GMTPermanent link to #Are there any questions?# Are there any questions? - Comments

Recently, I wrote about Conversational Conferences. I had two online responses that I am grateful for. First, Dave Snowden responded in a blog post Babies & bathwater again and then Johnnie Moore with Why I wont be rushing to attend KM conferences. In turn, I responded in a comment to Johnnie's post here.

The bottom line is that I am in almost total agreement with Dave and Johnnie. I would love to see richer, more engaging conferences with a variety of presentation and interactive sessions as they suggest.

The problem is that is that most commercial conference organisers are not ready for this. And its not just KM conferences :-) My idea is a simple one. It is to add a short conversational element to the traditional lecture style talk which form the majority of sessions at any conference.

To move FROM presentation + no time for q&A TO presentation + reflection + conversation + q&a

This is only meant to be a baby step in the direction of better learning events. My hope is that once conference organisers realise how effective this format can be it will give them the courage to go further. Time will tell.

Interestingly, in Googling for other people's views on conferences, I found this post by Nancy Dixon from 2009. A Rant on Are There Any Questions? This is how she starts

Every good speaker knows that at the end of a presentation, you have to leave time for questions.

Hogwash! Leaving time for questions is the worse learning process we could have invented.

We've all been brainwashed into the pseudo learning theory that asking for questions at the end of a presentation makes it a better learning experience for the audience. Wrong!

If you feel like me you will love this video Chicken chicken chicken but see it through to the "Any questions?" session at the end :-)

15:16 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the March 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the March 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I am always looking to help promote activity in the KM field. To this end you can:

In each case, the submission is held in a queue until I have checked it out and categorised it. This normally only takes a day or two. If the item is off topic or I feel it is inappropriate for any other reason I reserve the right to delete it. The service is free.

I hope you have a very happy Easter.

14:50 GMTPermanent link to #Looking for partners to help promote and run my Knowledge Cafes# Looking for partners to help promote and run my Knowledge Cafes - Comments

I am looking for business partners in various countries around the world who will work with me to deliver my public and in-house Knowledge Cafe masterclasses and other related Cafes and workshops.

Ideally, I am looking for organisations whose business is organising events though societies, networks and occasionally individuals who may have the capability to work with me.

If you are interested or can help then please get in touch and I will send you more information.

Here is one such workshop I am running in Denmark in June Knowledge Café: Facilitér effektiv videndeling i din organisation in partnership with VidenDanmark .

And I will be running a series of Cafes branded as Future Forums for the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group over the coming year.

Video: Knowledge Cafe Masterclass, Copenhagen 2011

Media Information: Image

12:27 GMTPermanent link to #What if 90% of the peer-reviewed clinical research is exaggerated, or worse, completely false?# What if 90% of the peer-reviewed clinical research is exaggerated, or worse, completely false? - Comments

What if 90% of the peer-reviewed clinical research, the holy grail of the conventional medical system, is exaggerated, or worse, completely false?

A scary thought! And what about other peer-reviewed material? See Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals and Problems with Peer-Review: A Brief Summary

10:48 GMTPermanent link to #Conversations are spontaneous and emergent, not planned and structured# Conversations are spontaneous and emergent, not planned and structured - Comments

I often ask during my Knowledge Cafe's if people think that it is possible to have online conversations or are they really just an exchange of messages. Is face to face conversation so different from online conversations that is warrants being given a different name?

Usually only a handful of people see any real difference and many get quite passionate about the fact that they can have great conversations with people online or by email and even texting.

I am not so sure. To me face to face conversation is so different to computer mediated conversation that I always say that "real conversation" can only take place face to face.

Yes, am aware I am playing with the definition and accepted use of words here. Conversation is always going to be the everyday term for conversation however mediated.

As part of the resources I am pulling together for a future book on conversation I have bookmarked this blog post from Chris Rodgers whether he says that Theres no such thing as on-line conversation that "Conversation is an ongoing, 'real-time' exchange" and that "Conversations are spontaneous and emergent, not planned and structured".

I could not agree more.

And, oh yes, when people ask me if you can run Knowledge Cafes online. I say "Yes, but it is so different you can no longer call it a Knowledge Cafe!"

Saturday 23 March 2013

16:11 GMTPermanent link to #We don We don't learn by listening, we learn by talking! - Comments

A rather interesting blog post here by Nancy Dixon from a few years ago, entitled We Learn (When We Listen) When We Talk. If the research shows that we learn when we talk then according to Nancy
  • It implies that if I am stating an argument to convince someone else of the reasonableness of my position, I would be wise to pause periodically to give the other person an opportunity to articulate his or her thinking on what I've said. Even if the other's response is only to offer a counter argument, that person will learn something new about their own position by “the way they have organized information differently ... to present it.”

  • It implies that if I deliver a presentation or a lecture it would be helpful to make time for those listening to have a conversation with each other -- a way for them to make mental connections that otherwise might never be made.

  • It implies that if I want another team to learn from the lessons my team or project has garnered, the transfer would work better if I arrange a conversation between the two groups than as a document. The conversation would provide the opportunity for the recipient to think out loud about how the lessons relate to their own work.

  • It implies that I read an great article I will incorporate the ideas more fully into my own cognitive map, if I tell a colleague what I have just read (or write a blog about it).

  • It implies that in the debrief of that great project my team just accomplished, the team is more likely to be able to understand how they achieved that success, if I gather the group to talk to about what they learned. They will learn what they learned in the talking.

We need to encourage more conversation in our organisations. It's a simple idea but the benefits are enormous.

Knowledge Cafes and conversational talks are just two ways of doing this but there are many more.

Nancy Dixon tells the story about Xerox Copy Repair Technicians

Sharing Tacit Knowledge - Nancy Dixon tells the story about Xerox Copy Repair Technicians

Xerox thought it taught its copy repair technicians everything they needed to know. But they discovered that technicians still had a need to learn from each other through conversation.

11:50 GMTPermanent link to #Goodbye Google Reader, hello Feedly# Goodbye Google Reader, hello Feedly - Comments

I was at first pretty upset to hear the demise (or the "retiring" as Google put it) of Google Reader. Over the years I have come to depend on it.

I am subscribed to over 180 feeds and I keep up with most of my professional news through both the Windows and iPhone versions that nicely sync with each other so that an item marked as read on my iPhone syncs with Windows.

Its no exaggeration to say that Google Reader is was my information life blood. At first I could not imagine how I could live without it. Until, I discovered Feedly. It has almost identical functionality and it is beautifully implemented. So much so, I prefer it the old Goggle Reader. What's more it literally took me minutes to switch.

If you are in the same boat as me and have not found an alternative yet - then take a look at Feedly. It seems they have acquired more than 500,000 Google Reader users in recent days.

Seems Hitler did not take it too well either :-)

Wednesday 20 March 2013

16:15 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for February to March 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Sunday 24 February 2013

17:53 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Januay to February 2013. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

  • Short animated video on 70:20:10 Learning by Charles Jennings http://bit.ly/XtwnU4 #learning

  • 5 Workplaces Annoyances That Can Actually Boost Creativity http://bit.ly/XgQLrb

  • KM is at the core of the United Nations of the future http://bit.ly/15eym4T #KM

  • Conversations are messy with ill-defined boundaries; just like work and just like life @jharche http://bit.ly/15hegqG #conversation

  • Knowledge itself is not a great business advantage. It's what gets done with the knowledge that matters. @hjarche http://bit.ly/X8Xa7U #KM

  • RT @anniemurphypaul: Firstborns are more motivated to learn, while secondborns are more motivated to win http://bit.ly/Y6s1TB

  • Connected leaders know that people naturally like to be helpful and get recognition for their work @hjarche http://bit.ly/X7UUhj

  • Payment by results -- a 'dangerous idiocy' that makes staff tell lies http://bit.ly/WVKa8A

  • There's no such thing as on-line conversation http://bit.ly/WdlPd6 #conversation #knowledgecafe

  • Effects of Externally Mediated Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation http://bit.ly/WVJYGz

  • Target based performance management always creates 'gaming'. Not sometimes. Not frequently. Always. http://bit.ly/WVKa8A

  • How Knowledge Workers Learn Judgment by Nancy Dixon http://bit.ly/WO7KEo

  • If listening better leads to better speaking, then it becomes a competitive advantage Seth Godin http://bit.ly/WT47fX

  • Management based on outcomes makes good people do the wrong thing & those most in need get a much poorer service http://bit.ly/WVKa8A

  • Tacit knowledge is best developed through conversations and social relationships @haroldjarchehttp://bit.ly/11D3NRL #KM

  • Connecting Diverse People and Ideas: A Virtual Knowledge Cafe by Bo Gylenpalm http://bit.ly/WLIZs3 #conversation #knowledgecafe

  • Innovation Is About Arguing, Not Brainstorming. http://bit.ly/WcM6qF #KM #Conversation

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Thursday 21 February 2013

11:47 GMTPermanent link to #Researchers head into their studies wanting certain results and, lo and behold, they get them# Researchers head into their studies wanting certain results and, lo and behold, they get them - Comments

This is an interesting article in the Atlantic by David Freeman entitled Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science about the work of Dr. John Ioannidis.

Rather shockingly, it seems that much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong and that doctors are still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice.

Dr. Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science. He analyzed 49 of the most highly regarded research findings in medicine over the previous 13 years. And of the 49 articles, 45 claimed to have uncovered effective interventions. Thirty-four of these claims had been retested, and 14 of these, or 41 percent, had been convincingly shown to be wrong or significantly exaggerated.

A couple of highlights from the article:

Simply put, if you're attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you're motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you'll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right.

This array suggested a bigger, underlying dysfunction, and Ioannidis thought he knew what it was.

"The studies were biased," he says. "Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there."

Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain results -- and, lo and behold, they were getting them.

We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it's easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously.

"At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded," says Ioannidis. "There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded."

This problem is not unique to the medical or scientific world, I suspect it is far more prevalent in the business world. We make up our mind and then select the evidence to support it!

To me, this is the sort of issue that Knowledge Management should be addressing - how do we avoid or at the very least minimise such cognitive biases? And, its not the only one, the list of our cognitive biases is endless.

Ted in the Dilbert comic strip sees the problem in relation to strategy!

Dilbert on Cognitive Bias


A 2010 Dilbert Comic Strip on Cognitive Bias

Media Information: Image

Footnote: In searching the web for information on how to overcome cognitive bias I came across this gem of a website:
This is a group blog on why we believe and do what we do, why we pretend otherwise, how we might do better and what our descendants might do, if they don't all die.

The "if they don't all die" bit caught my attention because if we don't get better at making decisions that's surely what is going to happen.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

16:54 GMTPermanent link to #Personal Knowledge Management and Harold Jarche# Personal Knowledge Management and Harold Jarche - Comments

Looking at my records, I first ran a Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) workshop in Singapore in 2002. Yikes that's over 10 years ago now!

Over the years I have stopped using the term as to me PKM is actually what KM is really all about. It is social, it is about people and deeply personal.

Most of the technical stuff has little to do with KM and is more about information management. Important and essential, I always say you need to do good IM, before you do KM but its IM nevertheless.

In fact the term does not seem to be greatly used these days though there is Wikipedia entry for PKM. But there is a place where the term PKM dominates and that is in the blog of Harold Jarche. You will find his blog here and the PKM section here. He tweets at @hjarche. And, if like me you get your news through your RSS reader you can subscribe to his main RSS feed here

[Note if you use Google Chrome as your browser then install the RSS Subscription Extension to make it easy to view and to subscribe to RSS feeds embedded in websites. Why on earth, this is not a standard feature of Google Chrome I do not know!]

Harold really understands what KM and PKM are all about and he is a prolific blogger with lots of good graphics to illustrate his points.

PKM: A set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world & work more effectively.

Want to know more? Then watch this 10 minute introduction to PKM.

09:52 GMTPermanent link to #KM Europe is relaunched# KM Europe is relaunched - Comments

I think the last KM Europe conference I attended was held in 2004 and it was a sad day when the conference came to an end as each year it helped pull the European KM community together. So I am delighted to see that the Ark Group is relaunching the event.

The conference will be chaired by Mireille Jansma and run to a conversational format. Dave Snowden is giving the keynote on the first day and I will be keynoting on the second. Along with some great talks and case studies it will provide a wonderful opportunity to connect and network with KM practitioners from all over Europe.

I really look forward to seeing as many of you there who can make it..

And note if you quote my name when you book you will receive a 20% discount..

09:19 GMTPermanent link to #So what So what's a Conversational Conference? - Comments

It's so good to see that KM Australia is adopting the conversational style of conference that I have been advocating for the last few years. This is the third year in which they have done so since I chaired the conference to this format for the first time in 2011. This is how they describe the event on the conference website.
What is a conversational event?

This congress will follow an interactive conversational format. Each speaker will present a case study for 25 minutes and conclude their presentation with a question to the audience.

The remaining 15-20 minutes of each session will be given to the audience to discuss the speakers talk and the question at their tables before going into a traditional Q&A.

This conversational format is intended to create an informal, relaxed atmosphere in which you, the conference participants, can get to know each other, learn from each other and build relationships.

The Ark Group have been running other conferences to this format for the past couple of years such as KM UK and KM Legal Europe.

Karuna Ramanathan and I also chaired KM Asia in Singapore to this format last year. And this year both KM UK and the relaunched KM Europe will be chaired in this manner.

For many traditional conference organisers, barcamps, unconferences and open space sessions are a step too far. These formats feel risky.

But making time for conversation as part of each presentation carries very little risk. Its a great first step to more open, participatory conferences.

If you have anything to do with organising conferences could I suggest you try this format. I am writing some documentation on how to run them. Get in touch and I will send you a copy when complete.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

17:30 GMTPermanent link to #Death Cafes: increasing the awareness of death and making the most of our lives# Death Cafes: increasing the awareness of death and making the most of our lives - Comments

I have all sorts of ideas for Knowledge Cafes. I have always thought they would make good vehicles to discuss taboo subjects though I have never had or made the opportunity to experiment with this idea. I am sure though that such Cafes have been run - probably to the World Cafe format.

Talking about Death is one of our biggest taboos. So I was delighted although a little surprised when someone recently told me about Death Cafes and pointed me to this article: Death Cafes Grow As Places To Discuss

There is even a Death Cafe website. I rather like their mission statement:
At Death Cafes people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to discuss death, drink tea and eat delicious cake.

The objective of Death Cafe is "To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives".

In other words, in discussing death you may get to make more of your lives.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

12:25 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the February 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the February 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Organizations are starting to wake up to the power of open conversation and my Knowledge Cafes are proving to be more and more popular.

In the coming year I plan to document the process more fully. To start with, I have created a short Knowledge Cafe Tip Sheet as a two page PDF. If you thinking of running a Knowledge Cafe for the first time then it is a good little guide.

I recently distributed it to over 5,000 people who have attended one of my Knowledge Cafes or Knowledge Cafe workshops over the past 10 years or have expressed an interest in the Knowledge Cafe concept. Surprisingly, I thought at first it was only 2,000 people but after a more careful processing of my database I realised the figure was much higher!

If you did not receive it and would like a copy then drop me an email and I will send it to you.

Also, if you are interested in my public or in-house Knowledge Cafe training workshops or my tailored in-house Knowledge Cafes then I can send you a document that describes the various ways in which I teach and run the Knowledge Cafe.

Sunday 20 January 2013

11:33 GMTPermanent link to #The MarketingCafe# The MarketingCafe - Comments

A participant on one of my Knowledge Cafe workshops in London last year was Andrew Armour. Andrew has since taken my Knowledge Cafe process, adapted it for a Marketing context and dubbed it the "MarketingCafe". Here is what he says about in his blog.
A MarketingCafe works by continually re-mixing small group conversations (ideally only three to a table) focused on carefully constructed open questions.

It's a structured way to generate the kind of great conversations you may have with good colleagues in the pub, hotel lounge or café, rather than those found more often in the boardroom -- or brainstorm.

Participants are encouraged to ask more questions rather than jump in to solve the question as more curiosity not instant solutions is the aim.

The loose, small group format helps the more confident to take a step back and therefore allows the space for the often introverted, technical and creative specialists to contribute more.

The Café is deceptively simple and yet highly effective.

If you wish to learn more about his process then see his blog post Why we need more conversation and less brainstorming. and take a look at this earlier post of his Stimulating Conversation And The Marketing Cafe

The great thing about the Knowledge Cafes process is that it can be adapted to all sorts of ends while still sticking to its core principles.

10:07 GMTPermanent link to #Proactive reviews - the questions# Proactive reviews - the questions - Comments

You may recall I wrote about Proactive Reviews back in June 2011. Proactive Reviews are a variant of After Action Reviews (AARs) that were first used by the US army as a method for debriefing miliary actions during the Vietnam War.

The Proactive Review was developed much later by Ditte Kolbaek while she worked at Oracle and are a more business focused form of AAR that have been well documented in her book Proactive Reviews - how to make your organisation learn from experience. It's an excellent book with a detailed description of the process and is packed with case studies.

I have recently been reading her book again more deeply, to help sharpen up my Knowledge Cafes as both are conversational tools and have much in common.

If you are already familiar with AARs then this is the heart of the difference between AARS and PRs.

While an After Action Review consists of 4 questions:
  1. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  2. What happened?
  3. Why did it happen?
  4. What should we do next time?

Proactive reviews add four more questions:
  1. What is the Purpose of this Proactive Review?
  2. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  3. What happened?
  4. Why did it happen?
  5. What should we do next time?
  6. What are we going to report, to whom, when and how?
  7. Which of our topics are important for the organisation?
  8. What was your personal highlight from this Proactive Review?

I don't think I need explain the importance of the additional questions and why Ditte has added them but what I observe is that the first and last questions correspond well with my Knowledge Cafe process.

In recent years, my ideas around the Knowledge Cafe have developed beyond it being solely a tool to "seek a deeper understanding" of a topic. Today, every Kcafe I run is customised. In designing a Kcafe, I start with several questions. The first of which is "What is the purpose of this Knowledge Cafe?" This is later shared in the Kcafe itself. It reminds me - in every thing we do, we should start with Steven Covey's second habit "Begin with the end in mind".

And finally that last question in the Proactive Review corresponds to the end of my Kcafe where I go around the Kcafe circle and ask each participant in turn "What is your one actionable insight you would like to share with everyone?" This final question is frequently the most revealing and what often surprises me is that people take away from very different learnings from a Kcafe - even conflicting ones.

And there is no harm in that. Knowledge is very personal stuff.

Saturday 19 January 2013

18:16 GMTPermanent link to #Humans are "designed" for conversation.# Humans are "designed" for conversation. - Comments

Many people find it difficult to give a speech and it is not always easy to listen to one but we are all pretty good at holding a conversation. Why is this? Surely, delivering a monologue or listening to one should be easier than dialogue?

Think about it for a moment. We face all sorts of difficulties when we have a conversation. Here are just a few:
  • We tend to talk in short, obscure, fragmentary utterances and so listeners need to fill-in the missing information and interpret what we are saying. This means a listener must often wait a while for something to become clear or must interrupt to clarify a point.
  • We cannot plan a conversation ahead of time as we never know what our conversational partners may say or ask. A conversation has a habit of going where it wants to go and not where any of the participants wish to take it.
  • When speaking we need to consider our listeners and modify our use of language on the fly so it is appropriate to the context, our listners evel of understanding or in a way that does not offend them.
  • We need to decide when it socially acceptable to interrupt the person speaking - to come in at just the right moment.
  • We need to plan how we are going to respond, if at all, while at the same time listening and in a multi-party conversation decide who to address.

It shouldn't be easy should it? But like me, I suspect you have never given it a second thought.

If you are interested in a scientific answer then take a look at the paper Why is conversation so easy? by Simon Garrod and Martin Pickering. They say its because the interactive nature of dialogue supports the interactive alignment of linguistic representations but I will leave you to make sense of that :-)

But the simple answer is that evolution has "wired" our brains for dialogue rather than monologue.

If we are "designed" for conversation - not for monologue then why do we inflict lectures on each other?

Credit: Thanks to Stephen Mugford. for pointing me to this paper

Friday 18 January 2013

12:47 GMTPermanent link to #David Weinberger at KMWorld 2012: facilitating knowledge sharing# David Weinberger at KMWorld 2012: facilitating knowledge sharing - Comments

A little while back I blogged about David Weinberger Education as a public act has tremendous power where he says "In the knowledge network ... the idea is ... that all learning should be in public and be something that makes the public better".

I love his work and as you can see from this web page I have been blogging about him since 2002.

I have now just discovered a video of his talk at KM World last year on facilitating knowledge sharing.

As ever, its a deeply insightful talk but what I particularly like is where he talks about the power of conversation, how it works and how we make rooms smarter. He sums up by saying:

We're going from a time of thinking that the smartest person in the room is the one at the front, or that the loudest, most obnoxious person, the person who dominates is almost always a male, [to a time] where we have the next level of intelligence, which is from the network of people who are in the room physically or virtually.

This of course is what my Knowledge Cafes are all about - "making rooms (of people) smarter".

David also talks a lot about the importance of differences in conversations. Many people think my knowledge cafes are about people being nice to each other and not disagreeing. But this could not be further from the truth. Yes, my cafes are not about debate as debates, especially amongst people who do not know each other well, can quickly become emotional and slide into argument.

My Cafes are about dialogue, engaging with each other respectfully. As soon as you start to show any form of disrespect in a conversation then the conversation is effectively ended. It becomes a debate or an argument where each person tries to impose their view on the other or where they simply walk away from the engagement.

You can deeply disagree with someone and still show them respect and thus keep the conversation alive. The longer you can so this the more likelihood that interesting things will emerge. On the other hand, if you don't value the other person or the relationship or the opportunity to explore an issue or why someone should have such a profoundly different perspective to you then you can chose to put them down or wind them up and get some perverted pleasure out of the conversation that way.

I know which approach I choose.

Thursday 17 January 2013

23:51 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2013# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2013 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for December 2012 - January 2013 Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Friday 28 December 2012

16:13 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the January 2013 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the January 2013 Knowledge Letter - Comments

To kick off 2013, I'd like to remind you of some of the services available to you as a member of the Gurteen Knowledge Community.

If you would like to be an active member of the community and not just receive stuff then you should join the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn. It has over 3,500 members and is a great place to meet and have discussions with like-minded people. You can join here: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539

In addition:

RSS Feeds
Subscribe to a number of RSS feeds

Quote of the Day
Receive a quotation by e-mail on a day of the week of your choosing

Event Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for new conferences & workshops in your region

New Book Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for recently published books

Email Courses
Subscribe to short e-mail courses by e-mail

and much more. I hope you find it all useful.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

11:28 GMTPermanent link to #Upcoming Engagements# Upcoming Engagements - Comments

Here are my main engagements over the next six months or so. Its prime purpose is to allow you to know where I will be so you can attend my public events if you wish or to meet or hire me.

You can see a list of my immediate activities below or you can find a full list here.

Opening keynote address KM Legal Europe: Positive deviance – or how you might already have the answers!
23 - 24 Jan 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Keynote talk at Eduhub Days
30 - 31 Jan 2013, St Gallen, Switzerland

10:10 GMTPermanent link to #Two great newsletters worth taking a look at# Two great newsletters worth taking a look at - Comments

If you have the time and the passion for reading newsletters then here are two that you may like to subscribe to. Both are from people working broadly in my field and whom I greatly respect.
Enjoy :-)

Tuesday 18 December 2012

22:18 GMTPermanent link to #Verbal Judo: Diffusing Conflict Through Conversation# Verbal Judo: Diffusing Conflict Through Conversation - Comments

Academic-turned-cop (now that's an unusual career move) George Doc Thompson describes how tactical language allows leaders to achieve their goals.

This is an amazing man. I only discovered him the other day while browsing the Google+ Conversation community.

He reminds me a lot of the late Stephen Covey. He looks a little like him, he sounds a lot like him and his presentation style is similar. At times, I even get the impression he was influenced by Stephen, especially when he talks about empathic listening.

In Googling him I was sad to discover that he died in 2011 not long after the this video was recorded. He was one of the leading experts in verbal self-defence tactics and trained law-enforcement agencies around the world.

This is what Wikipedia says about Verbal Judo:

Verbal self-defense, also known as verbal judo,is defined as using one's words to prevent, de-escalate, or end an attempted assault.

It is a way of using words as a way to maintain your mental and emotional safety.

This kind of "conflict management" involves using posture and body language, tone of voice, and choice of words as a means for calming a potentially volatile situation before it can manifest into physical violence.

This often involves techniques such as taking a time-out, deflecting the conversation to less argumentative topics, and/or redirecting the conversation to other individuals in the group who are less passionately involved.

The benefit of Verbal Judo is clear when it comes to law enforcement but I think there is much we can all learn from the concept when we get into "arguments" with people whether in the workplace or in the family. Too often when someone gets emotionally upset and angry with us, we pour fuel on the flames and not water.

22:09 GMTPermanent link to #The really big idea of social business and social KM# The really big idea of social business and social KM - Comments

The really big idea of the social business is to reconfigure agency in a way that brings relationships into the center.

The task is to see action within relationships. It is about interdependence instead of independence.

Amyarta Sen has written that wealth should not be measured by what we have but what we can do.

As we engage in new relationships we are creating new potentials for action.

Ties in nicely with my view as to what Social KM is all about.

Monday 17 December 2012

10:30 GMTPermanent link to #Abandon lectures, memorisation and tests. Start to learn by doing and practice, not theory.# Abandon lectures, memorisation and tests. Start to learn by doing and practice, not theory. - Comments

In this blog post Roger Schank: Only two things wrong with education: 1) What we teach; 2) How we teach Don Clark looks at the work of Roger Schank.

If you have any interest in education then this is well worth the read. Here are a few excerpts that resonated with me and might wet your appetite.:

School, he thinks, has turned into a funnelling process for Universities. This is a big mistake. His solution is to have lots of curricula and allow people to follow their curiosity and interests, as this is what drives real, meaningful and useful learning, as opposed to memorisation and hoop jumping

Schank ... wants to abandon lectures, memorisation and tests. Start to learn by doing and practice, not theory. Stop lecturing and delivering dollops of theory. Stop building and sitting in classrooms. We need to teach cognitive processes and acquire skills through the application of these processes, not fearing failure.

He prefers to deliver learning from mentored experience, not from direct instruction presented out of context.

The article confirms my view just how broken our educational system is. I think we are going to see some big changes over the coming years.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

10:59 GMTPermanent link to #Working out loud# Working out loud - Comments

I always like it when someone gives a name or a label to a concept that has taken a sentance to describe in the past. Often its a simple metaphor that makes it easy to remember.

In this case, I like the concept of "working out loud". In other words, doing your work transparently in such a way that other people can "see it" or as John Stepper says narrating your work and making it observable. Yes, I realise we are mixing metaphors here LOL

Harold Jarche has some thoughts on how to get started. It's really quite easy.

Sunday 16 December 2012

21:12 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: December 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: December 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for November 2012 - December 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Sunday 2 December 2012

15:21 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the December 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the December 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

As I hope you are aware I have a Gurteen Knowledge Community discussion forum on LinkedIn that now has over 3,500 members and is very active.

Earlier this month Google+ rolled out a new feature called Google+ Communities, which is similar to Facebook Groups. Google+ allows you to create public or private communities.

Up until now I have not been a big user of Google+ but the communities might just make all the difference and so I have created a Google+ Gurteen Knowledge Community.

I am not too sure how this will develop given the active LinkedIn forum but let's see. I much prefer the implementation of the Google+ communities to the LinkedIn Groups as they are easier to use and more functional. There is also not the annoying Linkedin limit where you can not be a member of more than 50 groups.

Incidentally, there seem to be a number of interesting communities emerging on Google+. This one on Conversation I particularly like.

You may recall that I am getting married on 27 December to Leni so this Christmas is going to be a very special one for me and my family. Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year too :-)

Thursday 29 November 2012

15:15 GMTPermanent link to #There is no way I share my ideas: how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture?# There is no way I share my ideas: how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture? - Comments

An interesting discussion is taking place on my Gurteen Knowledge Community group on LinkedIn.

"There is no way I share my ideas" : how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture?

3 days ago, I had a conversation with a friend who told me ironically: "Why should I share my ideas? Ideas are valuable, they give power. If I have a good idea, it will help me in my career, but if I share it someone else could steal it".

Even though it was a joke, I believe this is the kind of attitude we may find in some organisations. And I don't have any answer to this type of barrier!

What would you do?

Well, what would you do? See what others think here.

14:41 GMTPermanent link to #Some differences between the knowledge cafe and the world cafe# Some differences between the knowledge cafe and the world cafe - Comments

I always say when I describe my knowledge cafe process that anything that gets in the way of the free flow of the conversation is a bad thing.

I took part in a world cafe recently and it reminded me what I don't like about the world cafe process (as it is often run) and why I do things differently in my knowledge cafe.

First: No hosts. I do not have any table leaders in my knowledge cafes unlike the world cafe that has table hosts. One of the principles of my knowledge cafes is that everyone is equal.

At the table I was sitting, like all other tables, we were asked to appoint a host. Immediately, one of the men in my group decided he was going to drive the selection process; he stated why he would not make a good host and why others at the table were not appropriate and told one specific member that he would make the best host as he was an academic.

The person in question accepted the nomination. I don't know if he was happy or unhappy but he was put in a position where he had little say in the matter and now as host he would effectively not be part of the conversation as he needed to take notes (mental or otherwise) to pass on the gist of the conversation in the next round. Sure enough he took little part in the conversation.

Second: No flip charts. Flip charts seriously get in the way of the conversation.

In this case, another member of my group stood up, took a felt-tipped-pen and asked for ideas to list on the flip chart. We started to call them out and he started to list them until I expressed a difference of opinion about one the points he was about to write down and a conversation started. The process was in danger of falling into a list making session and not an open conversation.

And then third, in this world cafe, we moved as groups between tables, we did not mix - something else I do not like but is not a usual element of a world cafe. When our group got to the third table, the table host took us though what the last group had discussed and had captured on a flip chart.

We were immediately drawn in to comment and build on the previous group's work and were struggling as there seemed to be so little value in it until a member of my group suddenly pointed out that the previous group had totally misunderstood the question. There was some value in this but we had fallen into the trap of being too greatly influenced by the previous group's work and were not approaching the question afresh and thinking for ourselves.

I came away reminded of why I designed my knowledge cafe differently to the world cafe. That's not to say that the one process is better or worse than the other. Which format to chose should rest on the purpose of the cafe. And both cafe formats should always be adapted and blended to suit their purpose.

I need to give this a little more thought but my knowledge cafe tends to be divergent with less focus on capture where the world cafe tends to be more convergent with a greater emphasis on capture.

13:11 GMTPermanent link to #The Al Jazeera Cafe: not quite a conversation# The Al Jazeera Cafe: not quite a conversation - Comments

The Al Jazeera Cafe is about bringing people together around a table, from all backgrounds, all walks of life, in different corners of the world.

Crucially, the show is always set, as the name suggests, in a cafe - whether in Amman, Jordan, Bradford England, or Mexico City, Mexico. There are no television studios, no invited audiences. Just a relaxed yet robust discussion on the key issues of the day in an intimate, everyday setting.

I travel across the globe, to talk with people on the ground about economic inequality, democratic reform, sectarian conflict and national identity.

The show is a democratic forum for ideas; the perfect platform for discussing global themes. And my guests range from ministers to bloggers, Islamists to secularists, Democrats to Republicans.

You will see passionate people arguing over controversial issues.

Whether it is the war on terror or the war on drugs, the death of multiculturalism or the rise of Islamophobia, The Cafe cuts through the spin and gets right to the heart of the subject.

This is a great idea but to my mind it is flawed. Watch this so called "conversation" The Cafe - One state or any of the conversations. They are not conversations in a true sense. Notice how Mehdi Hasan is really in charge. He is driving and controlling the conversation. Often it is not even a conversation. He asks questions of an individual participant and they reply. It is a series of monologues.

Such a shame, its so close to being a unique piece of journalism but there is that need to control the conversation all the time. Maybe I am expecting too much, maybe the control is necessary to keep the focus and extract the intellectual entertainment value out of the conversation. I just wish, that at least once they would relax the controls and let it become a real conversation. One of equals.

Some of the Cafes' are a little better - this one on Kenyas unwinnable war for example.

while this one is still tightly controlled.

There are more Cafe vidoes here if you are interested. Regardless of style, there are some interesting topics.

12:19 GMTPermanent link to #The surprising value of conversations# The surprising value of conversations - Comments

You may find this talk by Ken Everett of N2NHub on the The Surprising Value of Conversations given by Ken Everett at the HRExchange in Jakarta in October 2012 of interest.

For me it gets particularly interesting at 06.25 where Ken starts to talk about the top three HR priorities (engagement, talent retention and leadership development) and then ties them in to the role of conversation.

One of his examples, I am delighted to see, is the example of ING Bank and how they use Knowledge Cafes for Management Development that I blogged about a little while back.

Enjoy :-)

Monday 26 November 2012

17:12 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for October 2012 - November 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

12:56 GMTPermanent link to #Video: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen# Video: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen - Comments

I recently reminded you that I was the editor of a new book Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management published by Academic Publishing International (ACI) earlier this year.

To compliment the book, ACI has published a DVD of me talking about Social KM with Dr. Dan Remenyi: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen.

Well now there is a short preview of the video interview available on YouTube.

09:59 GMTPermanent link to #Blogs are potent teaching and learning tools# Blogs are potent teaching and learning tools - Comments

Donald Clark is a prolific and insightful blogger on all aspects of education, teaching and learning but I love him most for his recent talk Dont lecture me where he criticises the lecture as a form of teaching. It was of course my exasperation with the lecture format that prompted me to design my knowledge cafes.

But coming back to blogs, when I first learnt about them and started blogging myself way back in March 2002, I immediately saw their potential as teaching and learning tools. Ten years later, to my mind, they have still not reached their full potential in this area.

Donald gets it too.

Blogs are a potent and vastly underused teaching and learning tool. The habit of regular writing as a method of reflection, synthesis, argument and reinforcement is suited to the learning process. Blogs encourage bolder, independent, critical thinking, as opposed to mere note taking. For teachers they crystallise and amplify what you have to teach. For learners, they force you to really learn.

Take a look at the full post - it may just encourage you to blog if you are not already :-)

Thursday 25 October 2012

11:59 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the October 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the October 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I came across this cartoon posted on Facebook recently. This was the conversation:
  • So ... what do you do?
  • I'm a cashier.
  • Oh I didn't mean what do you do for money?
  • ... I mean what do you do for the world?

Credit: A visual image posted on Facebook - source unknown

It's an interesting question to ask yourself. I am not looking to judge. I am not too sure that I do a great deal. But is little or nothing an acceptable answer? And is bringing up a well balanced healthy family a sufficient answer. I don't know but as I say - worth reflecting on.


11:27 GDTPermanent link to #BNM KM Conference Knowledge Cafe Visuals Oct 2012# BNM KM Conference Knowledge Cafe Visuals Oct 2012 - Comments

A few weeks back at a KM conference run by Bank Negara Malaysia Knowledge Management Centre in Kuala Lumpur, I gave a talk on the Knowledge Cafe and the relationship of conversation to organisational performance.

They had a visual artist at hand to capture the talk that can be seen here as a slide show but maybe the best visual image that captured my talk in a single slide was drawn by Masitah Babjan. Thanks everyone - its great to have the kcafe captured visually.

Masitah Babjan-kacfe-visual

10:32 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the November 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the November 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Its been a busy few months with trips to Rotterdam for a knowledge cafe workshop; Johannesburg for ICKM 2012 and an assortment of knowledge cafe engagements; the Central Bank of Malaysia KM Conference in Kuala Lumpur and the annual KM Asia Conference in Singapore where I ran knowledge cafe workshops and more recently to Dubai where I run a series of knowledge cafes for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

My knowledge cafes and knowledge cafes workshops where I teach people the principles behind my kcafe process and how to facilitate them have taken over my life these last ten years since I first started to run them in London in September 2012.

I feel I have only just started to scratch the surface of what is possible with the knowledge cafes and similar face-to-face conversational tools and slowly I am better understanding the critical role of conversation in business.

There has been a recent book published Talk, Inc.:How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations where the authors Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind show how effective leaders are adapting the principles of face-to-face conversation to pursue new forms of organizational conversation. Unfortunately the book only focuses on how senior management in many large organisations are starting to communicate with their employees through conversation and says little about how employees themselves can use conversation to communicate among themselves but it is a start.

In 2013, expect to see a lot more about "organizational conversation" from me.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

18:56 GDTPermanent link to #We need to learn to converse more openly if we wish to understand the world better# We need to learn to converse more openly if we wish to understand the world better - Comments

This post Openness Isn't The End, It's The Beginning from my good friend David Pottinger really excites me.

It is a topic I spend may hours reflecting on.

Why, when an individual or maybe a small scattered group of people see the error of our ways - is it so hard to get others to see it too?

To me, this is a big part of what Knowledge Management should be about but sadly it is too often about a technology system such as SharePoint. Dave Snowden sumed this up very well recently with this witty quote:

SharePoint is to Knowledge Management, what Sick Stigma is to Innovation

Credit: Dave Snowden

David Pottinger in his post highlights this quote from the The Journal of Radiological Protection about Alice Stewart.

Had she been able to discuss her ideas more openly, accepting the criticism that is an inevitable part of the scientific life, she might have changed thinking in key areas - especially the risk of obstetric irradiation and the ante-natal origin of childhood tumours - more effectively and sooner than she did.

It reminds me of a conversation I had recently with someone who told me that whenever he hears someone say something that he thinks is wrong - he just has to "put them right" even if it means an end to the relationship.

To his mind attempting to putting things right is more important than the relationship. But if you forfeit the relationship you lose the opportunity to continue the conversation and get your point across or possibly see that you are the one who is in fact wrong or that the answer is context dependent or that there is an alternative view on which you can both agree.

We need to stop debating and arguing with each other and learn to converse more openly if we wish to understand the world better.

12:18 GDTPermanent link to #Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen# Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen - Comments

Earlier this year I announced that I was the editor of a new book Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management published by Academic Publishing International (ACI).

The book is a collection of ten academic papers that I carefully selected to create the volume.

To follow up and compliment the book, ACI have now published a DVD of me talking about Social KM with Dr. Dan Remenyi: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen. Take a look.

11:46 GDTPermanent link to #KM World 2012 Session Notes# KM World 2012 Session Notes - Comments

If like me you did not get to attend KM World 2012 this year then you may find these session notes from Mary Abraham in her Above and Beyond KM blog useful.

Or take a look here, Bill Ives has listed the notes for you.

Thanks Mary, Bill :-)

10:58 GDTPermanent link to #Dialogue is an opportunity to proceed as climbers do# Dialogue is an opportunity to proceed as climbers do - Comments

I love Johnnie Moores blog - so many great little posts - so many wonderful insights.

But given my interest in conversation and dialogue I must point you to this recent post Climbing and dialogue. In it he quotes Antonio Dias:

Dialogue is an opportunity to proceed as climbers do. We are tied together and are able to alternately anchor each other as we move into precarious territory. We can rely on each other to warn us of dangers beyond our own views. Within dialogue we can go where it is impossible to go any other way.

In the article Antonio also says

We seek conclusions. We strive for a conclusion. We admire a firm conclusion. Is this helpful?

When I teach my Knowledge Cafe process many people have a problem that there are no traditional hard outcomes. This is what I say about the Knowledge Cafe:

A Knowledge Café is not about group decision making or reaching a consensus or a documented proposal. A Knowledge Café is about individual learning and insights; the surfacing of assumptions, issues, problems, and opportunities; seeing things that have not been seen before or seen only dimly.

Credit: David Gurteen

These are still outcomes - soft ones - not traditional hard ones. But there are few or no conclusions. Not that they are not needed in life at times - just that they are not the purpose of the KCafe.

Monday 22 October 2012

20:58 GDTPermanent link to #Can being connected make us more successful and can social tools help?# Can being connected make us more successful and can social tools help? - Comments

Last week I held an open Knowledge Cafe at Capco in London where the theme/question of the evening was "Can being connected make us more successful and can social tools help?".

It was a good evening and I have posted a few photos on Facebook. Several people told me it was one of the best they had been too for a long time. Now I am not too sure what ingredients go to make an exceptional knowledge cafe but maybe the wine had a lot to do with it

To my mind there is no doubt that being well connected can help contribute to one's professional success. As you will be aware, I am a prolific networker as I have learnt over the years that this is where I not only get my best ideas and insights but also where pretty much all of my work comes from. I connect with people through the web and social media but more importantly at conferences and my open knowledge cafes face to face.

This recent article Never Say No to Networking by Kathryn Minshew sums it all up for me and in particular this passage:

I can't tell you the number of times I've gone to an event and exchanged a few warm sentences with someone I haven't connected with in a while only to hear from them a few days later: "This opportunity to speak / present / fundraise / partner / win an award crossed my desk, and I thought of you." Why did they think of me? Because I'm a good fit for the opportunity, and they saw me yesterday.

What do you think? Can being connected make us more successful and can social tools help? You can join the conversation at my on-line LinkedIn Gurteen Knowledge Cafe Forum.

Monday 26 November 2012

17:11 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for September 2012 - October 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

15:43 GDTPermanent link to #In-house Knowledge Cafes# In-house Knowledge Cafes - Comments

So why is it that I have run more in-house knowledge cafes in South Africa and New Zealand than in the UK? I don't know. One day I may figure it out.

Two weeks ago in Johannesburg for ICKM 2012, I ran four introductory in-house Knowledge Cafes for the following organisations:
  • GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
  • SABC Media Libraries (South African Broadcasting Company) They have storified the event (thanks!)
  • ATNS (Air Traffic and Navigation Services)
  • Norton Rose (a law firm)

I also managed a few more engagements:

So quite a busy boy!

But the upshot of it all is that I now have my Introductory Knowledge Cafe down to a fine art having ran so many over the years.

Each one is customised and typically lasts 3 hours including a short coffee break and runs for between 20 to 30 people. It's a great way for a small, often cross-functional group, within an organisation to learn what the knowledge cafe is all about in a very practical sense and to pick up on the concept and run them for themselves.

If you are interested in my running one for your organisation get in touch.

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe: SMARTlab at the University of East London

Knowledge Cafés as KM Tools. KM India 2010

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe at KMPAP 2006 in Hong Kong
Introduction to the Knowledge Cafe, Greenwich 2006
KM Egypt, Cairo, 2010
About the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe, 2009

14:16 GDTPermanent link to #Friends With Cognitive Benefits: How friendly conversation can boost your cognitive abilities# Friends With Cognitive Benefits: How friendly conversation can boost your cognitive abilities - Comments

Talking with other people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems, a new University of Michigan study shows. But conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan tested 192 undergraduates to determine which types of social interaction helped and which didn't.

The researchers concluded that engaging in short conversations where participants were instructed to get to know one another person boosted their performance on a variety of cognitive tasks.

When participants engaged in conversations that were competitive in nature, their performance on cognitive tasks showed no improvement.

"This study shows that simply talking to other people, the way you do when you're making friends, can provide mental benefits," says University of Michigan psychologist Oscar Ybarra, lead author and researcher of the study reported inSocial Psychological and Personality Science.

Credit: PSFK

Are you surprised? I'm not, though I am pleased, as it confirms my own experiences and observations in my knowledge cafes.

This is the original paper: Friends (and Sometimes Enemies) With Cognitive Benefits: What Types of Social Interactions Boost Executive Functioning?

10:02 GDTPermanent link to #Explore the range of possibilities then experimentally evolve# Explore the range of possibilities then experimentally evolve - Comments

I love the work of Dave Snowden as he questions so many things we take for granted.

One such thing he questions, is the idealistic approach we take to achieving things in this world.

I think these two quotes of Dave's sum up his view quite nicely.

In the idealistic approach, the leaders of an organization set out an ideal future state that they wish to achieve, identify the gap between the ideal and their perception of the present, and seek to close it.

This is common not only to process-based theory but also to practice that follows the general heading of the "learning organization".

Naturalistic approaches, by contrast, seek to understand a sufficiency of the present in order to act to stimulate evolution of the system.

Once such stimulation is made, monitoring of emergent patterns becomes a critical activity so that desired patterns can be supported and undesired patterns disrupted.

The organization thus evolves to a future that was unknowable in advance, but is more contextually appropriate when discovered.

Credit: Dave Snowden

Knowledge Management should be focused on real, tangible intractable problems not aspirational goals.

It should deal pragmatically with the evolutionary possibilities of the present rather then seeking idealistic solutions.

Credit: Dave Snowden
He explores his ideas further in this more recent blog post on Sidecasting entitled Casting around.

Paraphrasing his post a little:
Don't define the future and close the gap

but obtain a general sense of where you would like to be.

Then explore the range of possibilities and experimentally evolve.

Credit: Dave Snowden

This of course would not be the right approach in the "simple domain" or "complicated domain" of his Cynefyn Framework such as putting a rover on the surface of Mars but would be a more realistic and innovative approach in the "complex domain" for the real challenging complex problems we face in the world such as hunger, poverty, terrorism, global warming, environmental destruction and more.

Dave has posted several other blog entries on Sidecasting if you are interested further.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

15:05 GDTPermanent link to #A wonderful combination of a Knowledge Cafe and a Drum Cafe# A wonderful combination of a Knowledge Cafe and a Drum Cafe - Comments

As part of the opening ceremony at ICKM 2012 (the International Conference on Knowledge Management) in Johannesburg on 5 Sept 2012, I ran a Knowledge Cafe combined with a Drum Cafe facilitated by Warren Liebermann.

Knowledge Cafes bring people together to connect and to have conversations while Drum Cafes connect and energise people through Interactive Drumming. A wonderful combination.

In both cases the focus is not on the facilitator, but on the participants.

We broke the one hour session into 6 ten minute segments. Three for drumming and three for conversation. 

A big thanks to Prof. Adeline du Toit who came up with the idea of a "joint cafe" and connected me and Warren.

This video playlist captures the energy and engagement in the room. It was a great way to connect people and to start the 2 day conference.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

10:18 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for August 2012 - September 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

13:10 GDTPermanent link to #85% of KM initiatives have no clear stated objectives# 85% of KM initiatives have no clear stated objectives - Comments

According to the slide on page 7 of this KPMG presentation from September 2011 (Via: Nick Milton).

  • 80% of companies in a recent survey said that they had KM initiatives under way.
  • Of those companies, 85% had no clear stated objectives for their KM initiative.

I am not too sure of the accuracy of this statistic but it certainly stacks up with all my experience and gives added weight to my "Don't do KM" mantra and the KM talks that I give:

You don't do KM! You respond to business problems and develop business opportunities using KM tools.

08:25 GDTPermanent link to #Education as a public act has tremendous power# Education as a public act has tremendous power - Comments

This is a wonderful little video post from David Weinberger where he talks about the tremendous power of Public Learning.

This is what he says in conclusion, starting at 3:43 :

In the knowledge network ... the idea is ... that all learning should be in public and be something that makes the public better.

It improves the public. The act of learning, the act of education or teaching are done in public so that others will learn from.

And this idea of education as a public act has tremendous power, tremendous benefits, because it makes the entire network, the entire ecosystem smarter.

If we can apply this within our businesses, our educational system and beyond then our own knowledge network will become much smarter, much faster.

I agree with David. The potential to transform the world through open, public learning is huge and I beleive there is no stopping it.

If you don't know of him, David is a very interesting guy with some very deep knowledge and insights as to the nature of knowledge and learning. He has had a huge influence on my thinking on organizational conversation and my knowledge cafes.

I have put together a YouTube playlist of some of his more interesting videos.

Saturday 18 August 2012

11:19 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the September 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the September 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Some people keep their private and professional lives apart. Facebook is reserved for family and close friends and Linkedin for professional contacts. Bloggers blog about their personal lives or their professional lives but never mix them.

Others, like myself, make little distinction between their professional and personal lives. In fact, I rarely think of a client as a client or a customer, I consider them friends. And I use Facebook and Linkedin to connect with everyone I know though I do keep Facebook a little more personal.

I can think of one blogger who never ever blogs about his personal life and never strays off the topic of his profession and I can think of others who largely stay on focus but will on occasions blog about their personal lives, often relating it to their work, and who will blog off topic on issues they are passionate about.

I find these bloggers who reveal something of themselves more authentic and more human and consequently more interesting. To me blogging is an innately personal experience.

It's also so much easier when you don't view your life as a series of different compartments, each with different rules, as then life gets pretty complicated.

But there is no right or wrong - you go with what you feel most comfortable with.

Those of you who know me, know that I often go way off topic and on rare occasions blog about my family. Which leads me to a piece of very personal news that I would like to share with you.

My fiancee Leny joined me in the UK last Friday (Sept 14th 2012) from Jakarta. We are both so happy together and plan to get married at Christmas. I am so looking forward to our life together.

10:34 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the August 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the August 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

Every month, I receive a half-a-dozen or so emails from people asking me all sorts of questions about knowledge management.

If I have the time and feel sufficiently knowledgeable in the area of their question then I do my best to reply but whether I can reply at length or not I always point them to the Gurteen Knowledge Community forum on LinkedIn.

Let me give you an example. Anita Malik recently emailed me to ask whether I thought the number of Communities of Practice in an organisation should be limited or unlimited. I shared with her my view on the topic that they should not be too tightly controlled but I was well aware that many other people had different perspectives and experiences who could answer her question and help her far more than i ever could and so I pointed her to the forum where you can see the lengthy discussion that emerged.

Clearly, Anita got far more out of this discussion than any answer I could ever have givne but the value is far, far greater. By posing the question publically everyone who took part in that discussion got to learn and of course also those who on only read the thread benefited too.

And this discussion is now there as a record. If anyone asks me the same question again - then I can point them to the discussion and so can others.

This open or public form of learning is very powerful indeed and I believe over time will have a transformative impact on the world.

I have touched on the idea in the past in this article Raising all the ships on the sea and this recent post of mine Education as a public act about David Weinberger and his thoughts on the subject.

We need to make our education public.

Friday 17 August 2012

15:26 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: August 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: August 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for July 2012 - August 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

16:16 GDTPermanent link to #McKinsey Global Institute sees the value in social knowledge management# McKinsey Global Institute sees the value in social knowledge management - Comments

I have been talking about Social Knowledge Management for over 5 years ever since I gave a talk at Online 2007 entitled KM goes Social and more recently edited the book Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management.

But Social KM is only slowly catching on compared to "social marketing".

Maybe the McKinsey Global Institute will give it a bit of a push with their recent report on The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies where they say
The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises. MGI's estimates suggest that by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers -- high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals -- by 20 to 25 percent.

They hardly mention the term Knowledge Management never mind Social Knowledge Management in their report but this is what they are really talking about.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

14:32 GDTPermanent link to #Death by degrees, certification and accreditation# Death by degrees, certification and accreditation - Comments

If you are wrestling in your mind with the problems faced by education today or maybe more narrowly the issue of knowledge management certification and accreditation then I think you will find this article Death by Degrees a very provocative and stimulating read with a great deal to think about and reflect on.

Here is a taste:

The original universities in the Western world organized themselves as guilds, either of students, as in Bologna, or of masters, as in Paris.

From the first, their chief mission was to produce not learning but graduates, with teaching subordinated to the process of certification -- much as artisans would impose long and wasteful periods of apprenticeship, under the guise of "training," to keep their numbers scarce and their services expensive.

For the contemporary bachelor or master or doctor of this or that, as for the Ming-era scholar-bureaucrat or the medieval European guildsman, income and social position are acquired through affiliation with a cartel.

Those who want to join have to pay to play, and many never recover from the entry fee.

I have always been attracted to the idea of doing away with certificates, exams and all forms of testing and accreditation as I believe the downdside is too great - see what Alfie Kohn has to say on the matter.

Having read the article, I am close to being convinced - imagine the joy of learning if it were untainted by tests, certificates and exams.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

10:13 GDTPermanent link to #People are untrustworthy or is it just our bad judgement?# People are untrustworthy or is it just our bad judgement? - Comments

I love the perspective of Anthony de Mello when he says that its is not that people are untrustworthy but it is more about our lack of understanding of human nature and our own bad judgement.

In other words it is as much our fault as theirs when they let us down. In fact, he is putting it stronger than that - it is totally our fault.

You may not agree. It's hard to swallow but worth reflecting on :-)

A young man came to complain that his girlfriend had let him down, that she had played false. What are you complaining about? Did you expect any better?

Expect the worst, you're dealing with selfish people. You're the idiot -- you glorified her, didn't you? You thought she was a princess, you thought people were nice.

They're not! They're not nice. They're as bad as you are -- bad, you understand? They're asleep like you. And what do you think they are going to seek? Their own self-interest, exactly like you. No difference.

Can you imagine how liberating it is that you'll never be disillusioned again, never be disappointed again? You'll never feel let down again. Never feel rejected.

Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want freedom?

Here it is: Drop your false ideas. See through people. If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will love them.

Otherwise you spend the whole time grappling with your wrong notions of them, with your illusions that are constantly crashing against reality.

Friday 27 July 2012

14:22 GDTPermanent link to #Stimulating conversation with the Marketing Cafe# Stimulating conversation with the Marketing Cafe - Comments

Every so often I meet someone who comes along to one of my Knowledge Cafes or Knowledge Cafe workshops who immediately gets the concept and goes away and applies it their own domain.

Andrew Armour is one of those people and has become a good friend and a regular participant in my open London Knowledge Cafes.

He's blogged about knowledge cafes several times in the past including On Cafe Conversations,Connections & Collaboration and Are You In The Conversation Business?

But in a recent blog post on Stimulating Conversation And The Marketing Cafe he talks about how he has adapted the knowledge cafe to create what he calls a Marketing Cafe - in other words a knowledge cafe that focuses the questions on marketing issues.

Naturally, I love it as the KCafe process can be taken and applied in so many different ways - something I teach in my workshops

Here are a couple of quotes from Andrew's blog post.

A lack of important conversation between the right people prevents many businesses from becoming truly innovative . Too often the important questions, the ones that may challenge the status quo and help paint a picture of the future – are left unasked or dominated by the usual suspects.

Most meetings, workshops and conferences are not viewed as an opportunity to converse, listen, build dialogue and explore solutions, but a means to present, report, control, persuade -- to control your own plan, to get buy-in, to approve or deny.

No wonder then, that when the time does arise for focused, innovative, open and progressive conversation that most of the time --we fail.

12:59 GDTPermanent link to #A tribute to Stephen Covey# A tribute to Stephen Covey - Comments

As many of you know Stephen Covey died recently. I first discovered Stephen in 1990 when I bought his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book has gone on to sell over 25m copies and at one time I made my own little contribution to that number by giving copies to friends.

In 1993, I attended one of his Principle Centered Leadership courses at the Covey Leadership Centre in Utah. Interestingly, a good friend of mine at the time managed to get us a free invite. We only had to pay for our airfares.

It's no exaggeration to say that the book, the leadership course and Stephen's work changed my life. It wasn't just what Stephen had to say but he introduced me to many other "mentors" such as Scott Peck, Henry David Thoreau and Viktor Frankl.

I use a number of quotations from Stephen in my presentations and workshops, My favourite of his seven habits and the one I most teach is Habit 5.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

It was this habit and his concept of empathic listening that had a major influence on the development of my Knowledge Cafes and this article that I wrote back in 2002 on Learn to listen and to tell the truth.

Rest in peace Stephen - you have left one hell of a legacy.

Monday 23 July 2012

18:31 GDTPermanent link to #There are no solutions to anything. We don There are no solutions to anything. We don't solve problems we respond to them. - Comments

When I run my knowledge management workshops, one of the points I make strongly is that there are no solutions to complex problems. There are always unforeseen and/or unintended consequences. Side-effects in other words.

I blogged about the Law of Unintended Consequences a year or so ago.

I suggest to people that they never talk about solutions to problems, that they avoid the word "solution", so loved by IT vendors, and replace it with the word "response".

We don't solve problems we respond to them! We are walking on a trampoline.

Unintended consequences get to the heart of why you never really understand an adaptive problem until you have solved it.

Problems morph and "solutions" often point to deeper problems.

In social life, as in nature, we are walking on a trampoline.

Every inroad reconfigures the environment we tread on.

Given this view, I warmed to this podcast interview with James Howard Kunstler: Its Too Late for Solutions: Consequences are coming & we better start facing them soon.

As he points out, we are always looking for solutions to things - we want a quick fix so that we can carry on the way we are working now without realising that it is impossible. We are discovering more and more is that the world is comprehensively broke in every sphere, and in every dimension and in every way.

There are no quick-fix solutions in this world, only responses.

11:39 GDTPermanent link to #Why are we suckers for fictional stories?# Why are we suckers for fictional stories? - Comments

Every so often, I come across a little story that someone has shared or re-shared on Facebook, or Twitter or by email.

There is always something either touching or outrageous about it. And for a moment, I am suckered in. But then I read the story again carefully and it just does not ring true or seems too good to be true.

So I Google it. Never takes long and find the true story.

Like this one, recently on Facebook, of an old man who died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home. It's of course a fake.

Or the fake photo of the recent Alberta oil leak.

Or the touching story of the mother who saved her baby in a Japanese earthquake. Again, fiction!

These are just three I have spotted but I have been taken-in myself at times. Why are we suckers for such stories and worse still why do we pass them on without any due diligence?

I don't know. But please, next time you read a story that seems just a little too good to be true - check it out first before sharing it.

09:25 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: July 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: July 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for June 2012 - July 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Monday 16 July 2012

12:51 GDTPermanent link to #What do you think about all day?# What do you think about all day? - Comments

This is one of my favourite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

Whenever I am in the shower, walking, driving or sitting relaxing my mind wanders in thought and often I try to catch myself doing this and observe the nature of those thoughts.

What I have learnt is that my mid flits around at times quite aimlessly. I suspect that's the nature of all minds.

When I do this and observe my mind (I still find it amazing we have the ability to do this) I think of Emerson's quote and try to pull my thoughts back to the important things in my life.

Which reminds me of another quote from Henry David Thoreau who was mentored by Emerson.

Our life is frittered away by detail ... Simplify, Simplify.

Saturday 14 July 2012

21:56 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the July 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the July 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

What does knowledge means to you in one sentence?

This is question that was recently posted on the Linked Knowledge Management discussion forum

It's an interesting discussion on knowledge with over 200 comments. What is amazing is the wide variety of definitions. Everyone has a different perspective.

For now, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that but you might like to take a look and see how your view stacks up against all the others and ponder whether this lack of a common understanding of knowledge is a problem for a knowledge management.

Thursday 28 June 2012

11:36 GDTPermanent link to #VIVA Knowledge Cafe# VIVA Knowledge Cafe - Comments

I recently ran a knowledge cafe workshop in Kuwait hosted by Bibi Alajmi and sponsored by VIVA - a Kuwaiti mobile telecommunications service provider. As with all my workshops, it went well and reinforced for me that the Knowledge Cafe works in any culture - given the right environment people love to talk. It also introduced me to the Kuwaiti dewaniya which was a lovely cultural surprise.

While there I also ran a Knowledge Cafe organised by VIVA for about 20 senior executives and CEOs from leading companies in Kuwait, including Zain, Wataniya Telecom, Gulf net, Fast-telco, Zajil Telecom, Mada Communications, Samsung Dealership, Hayat Communications, Future Communications Company, Quality Net, UPS, KNET and Kuwait Concierge.

The topic of the Cafe was "What are the future possibilities for the Kuwaiti MobileTelecoms Industry?

There was some interesting conversation, followed by even more conversation over lunch. You can find the Viva press release if you are interested.

I wish I could say more about it but clearly the conversations were confidential. What I did learn though is that using a Knowledge Cafe to bring senior executives together from different companies to have conversations over common interests with no predetermined outcomes is a very powerful tool indeed. There is a story here that I hope I may be able to share at some point.

10:55 GDTPermanent link to #The Dewaniya - a form of Kuwaiti Knowledge Cafe?# The Dewaniya - a form of Kuwaiti Knowledge Cafe? - Comments

During my recent trip to Kuwait, I discovered a feature unique to Kuwaiti culture - a dewaniya. While running a knowledge cafe workshop someone commented "So the Knowledge Cafe is a little like a dewaniya." - to which of course I replied "What's a dewaniya?"

It was explained to me at the time but since then I have done a bit of Googling and in addition to the Wikipedia definition I have constructed one of my own.

A dewaniya is a reception area where a man receives his business colleagues and male guests. The term refers both to a reception hall and the gathering held in it.

It takes place in the evening in a special room or annex which is usually separate from the rest of a man’s house.

Only men are present and they sit around on soft benches or cushions, conversing casually, smoking, nibbling snacks and relaxing over beverages such as tea, coffee or the like.

Relatives and friends come and go throughout the evening. The host's job is to be hospitable and entertain his guests.

What topped off my visit on the last evening was to be taken to a dewaniya by Dahem Alqahtani (a friend of my host Bibi Alajmi). And I had a wonderful evening joining the other men in conversation. I was surprised how many had studied in England or were Manchester United fans :-)

It is a quite a fascinating idea and although not really a knowledge cafe - a great way to socialise and has got me thinking even more about the role of conversation in society. We need more opportunities and places to bring people together in conversation both in our business lives and our personal ones.

Bibi, Dahem, thanks for looking after me so well.

09:55 GDTPermanent link to #At school, did you ever question the class schedules?# At school, did you ever question the class schedules? - Comments

I love it when people question things that are so deeply rooted that we take them for granted and never think of questioning them.

At school, did you ever question class schedules? In my day, every 40 minutes, a bell would ring and everyone in the school would shuttle from one class room to another for a different subject.

But why? Why was that considered a good way to learn? I've no idea!

What if we removed the passive course-to-course drudgery of the school day? What if there was no schedule?

What if students were left with a list of coyly worded benchmarks targeted at creating quality humans, and we just waited to see what they could do?

What if teachers were seen as mentors for projects designed to help students meet those benchmarks?

What if the students initiated these projects and the teachers spent their time recording TED-style talks that would serve as inspiration and help students generate benchmark-related ideas?

Wednesday 27 June 2012

18:52 GDTPermanent link to #Do you care? Do you really care?# Do you care? Do you really care? - Comments

I love Seth Godins blog. His posts are short and to the point and he says insightful things.

Here are two blog posts both on the subject of caring:

Thanks Seth for pointing out the bleedin' obvious. Live, the universe and everything - its all about caring. If only we cared more.

17:29 GDTPermanent link to #You are not special# You are not special - Comments

Another inspiring commencement speech, this time from David McCullough from Wellesley High School near Boston ( I almost lived there at one time, when I worked for Lotus Development in Cambridge back in 1989 ... so long ago now).

Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.

Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.

Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion -- and those who will follow them.

And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.

The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.

Because everyone is.

You may enjoy these commencement speeches too from Steve Jobs and J.K. Rowling :-)

15:12 GDTPermanent link to #Why Crowded Coffee Shops Fire Up Your Creativity# Why Crowded Coffee Shops Fire Up Your Creativity - Comments

The next time you're stumped on a creative challenge, head to a bustling coffee shop, not the library.

Instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.

This works for me. Once or twice a week I head out to a local Starbuck's towards the end of the day and quote deliberately think about the things I am doing and am planning. It's where I get some of my best ideas.

12:35 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for April 2012 - May 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Friday 8 June 2012

12:10 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the June 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the June 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I am still a little surprised when I talk, for example, to teachers and I ask "What do you think of flip teaching?" or "Do you like the work of Sal Kahn?" and I get the reply "What's flip teaching?" or "Who is Sal Kahn?". Or, when I ask "Have you watched the TED talk by Dan Pink?" And they have not even heard of TED.

But its not just education, its in all spheres. It's not easy to keep up with the latest ideas and developments - the world is moving fast.

I keep up with things in my realm of interests through RSS and Twitter feeds and many of the other social media tools. But even then I miss stuff.

One of the things I try to do in this knowledge letter is to help disseminate emerging ideas and the work of leading thinkers.

If you read one item in this knowledge letter every third month then I think it worth my time, especially as I now have over 20,000 readers.

But coming back to some of those ideas and people with ideas. Here are five for you. If you haven't heard of them - they are worth a click through. All are YouTube playlists that I have curated.

Oh and this is TED. Enjoy :-)

Monday 28 May 2012

18:44 GDTPermanent link to #Is innovation bad for us?# Is innovation bad for us? - Comments

I met with Karl-Erik Sveiby for a few beers while I was in Helsinki recently and was delighted to hear that he has just published a new book Challenging the Innovation Paradigm

At one point early in our conversation, I agreed with Karl-Erik that it was mainly innovation that had got the world into the mess its in today. To which he replied "Well if innovation got us into this mess what makes us think that more innovation will get us out of it?" An interesting point. Sounds like a potential great knowledge cafe conversation.

The problem with innovation is that there are often long term unintended and unforeseen consequences of that innovation. I am sure, for example, that the early technological pioneers of the industrial revolution did not think for one moment about the possibility of global warming.

You might also be interested in this paper of Karl-Erik's Unintended and Undesirable Consequences of Innovation

What is really interesting is what inspired Karl-Erik to think about this in the first place. It was his research into Aboriginal culture when he lived in Australia that resulted in an earlier book of his Travelling Lightly. He learnt that the Australian Aborigines knew very well the risks and advantages of innovation and that there was a darker side - the environmental and society; consequences of new products. Partly as a result of this awareness and taking responsibility for their community and those of other their civilisation lasted 40,000 years or more.

Here are some articles by Karl-Erik inspired by Aboriginal thought and also a video playlist I have created on his work on innovation.

12:16 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for April 2012 - May 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

11:30 GDTPermanent link to #Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management# Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management - Comments

I am delighted that I'm the editor of a new book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management" that has just been published by Academic Publishing International.

The book is a collection of ten academic papers that I have carefully selected to create the volume and I have also written a short editorial comment on each paper.

So I did the relatively easy bit, all the hard work was done by the contributors in this important emerging field. There are 19 contributors so a few too many to mention.

You will find more details of the book here.

I have agreed with the publishers that members of my community may obtain GBP5.00 off the price of the book by entering "Gurteen5" in the discount code field when you place your order.

07:15 GDTPermanent link to #We sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Or do we?# We sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Or do we? - Comments

If you are interested in the impact of the Internet and social media such as Facebook on interpersonal relationships and conversation then take a look at this article Friends Without a Personal Touch or this one The Flight From Conversation by Sherry Turkle.

And then this response by Dave Cormier Sherry Turkle -- the flight from conversation ... a response

I am more in the Dave Cormier camp than that of Sheryl Turkle even though she is a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her observations just do not stack up with my own. For example, she says:

Self-reflection in conversation requires trust. It's hard to do anything with 3,000 Facebook friends except connect.

This in my experience is simply not true. How does the number of "friends" I have on Facebook (2,151 at the last count - yes I know many of them are not friends in the true sense - they are just connections - but that's not a problem) have any affect on the much smaller number of close friends that I have, that I do trust and can and do have real conversations with? It doesn't. In fact many of those friends I first met through the web.

Maybe some people do confuse mere connections with friends but I know many people who don't and who can enjoy and make the most of both type of relationships: close friends and loosely connected "friends".

Sunday 27 May 2012

19:44 GDTPermanent link to #Measure less, care more# Measure less, care more - Comments

In this post on Avoiding false metrics, Seth Godin gets at the heart of one of the problems with measures.

I have a quote on my website that says:

When a measure becomes an objective it stops being a good measure.

But its far worse than this, as typified in Seth's example of someone cheating on a work-out by making the measure look good but avoiding doing the real exercise required to get fit.

It's a major problem and one that I am increasingly hearing about in the educational system. Students want the grade or the exam certificate (the metric) and will lie, cheat, plagiarise and even pay people to write their dissertations for them to obtain the metric.

The measure has replaced the objective of a good education. The goal has become achieving the metric at any cost.

What is as bad, are teachers and others in the educational system who also cheat to make their targets and are thus complicit with the students in totally undermining the worth and credibility of an exam result.

Interestingly, Seth has a large part of the answer in another blog post care more.

Its not about meeting the metric. Its about caring about what you are doing.

14:39 GDTPermanent link to #We are not human resources or human capital. We are human beings.# We are not human resources or human capital. We are human beings. - Comments

I think you know how much I dislike the term "human Resources" - its only marginally better than that awful term "human capital". I have written about it before.

I do hope you realise that it was Catbert, Dilbert's evil feline Human Resources director, who invented the term human capital back in 2002 :-)


Henry Mintzberg sums it up very nicely in this article The Problem Is Enterprise.

An enterprise is a community of human beings, not a collection of "human resources".

12:47 GDTPermanent link to #Video: A Gurteen Knowledge Cafe in Singapore, Feb 2012# Video: A Gurteen Knowledge Cafe in Singapore, Feb 2012 - Comments

Earlier this year in February 2012, I ran an open Knowledge Cafe in Singapore.

The KCafe was very kindly hosted by William Chua, CEO of eLC, a training and learning organization in Singapore at the Brewerkz Riverside Point alongside the Singapore River.

This was not the first time I have held a knowledge cafe in a pub/bar though it was a first for Singapore. William and his staff did an excellent job organising the event with free food and beer to help along the conversation. A big thanks to you all.

eLC videod the evening and I have uploaded it to the web as a Youtube playlist of five short videos.

If you have ever run knowledge cafes yourself or plan to run them then watch the start of the fourth video where I ask for someone to start the conversation. It takes 1 minute 15 seconds or so before someone takes the mike.

Believe me, standing at the front, that seemed more like for ever! And although I encourage people to start the conversation, I did not start it myself. I never have and I never will. If I am patient and wait long enough someone will always start.

Note also how the conversation got off to a slow start but once people get engaged and realise there is nothing to fear, the conversation gathers pace.

Also keep in mind, that a knowledge cafe works best with a smaller number of people where microphones are not needed and a circle can be formed at the end for the whole group conversation. In this situation, I encourage people to talk more to each other rather than report back to me or ask questions of me.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

10:30 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the May 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the May 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I'd like to start this month's knowledge letter by reminding you of some of the services I provide to my community.

First, you may subscribe to a number of RSS feeds

And second you may subscribe to a number of e-mail based services

Quote of the Day
Receive a quotation by e-mail on a day of the week of your choosing

Job Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for jobs in your region

Event Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for new conferences & workshops in your region

Book Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for recently published books

I hope you find these services useful.

Saturday 21 April 2012

13:52 GDTPermanent link to #Introduction to the April 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the April 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I have been tidying up, structuring and building my YouTube channel over the last few months.

In doing this, I have built several new playlists that I am continuously adding to.

In particular, I have created playlists for some of the people who inspire me the most. These include:

And, one that I plan to spend a lot more time on Trends in Education and Learning

Go take a look I am sure you will find something you will enjoy.

11:53 GDTPermanent link to #Business is a Conversation - It Business is a Conversation - It's Good To Talk - Comments

Why, for all our knowledge, do we so poorly understand what is going on in our business world?

Since the advent of the world wide web and corporate intranets we have had unprecedented access to information.

Are we that much more effective, productive or creative? I don't think so.

I could give you all the information you desired. Perfect information. But would you be able to readily act on it. Probably not!

We don't need more information or knowledge. We need to understand what we have better. We need to make better sense of it all.

How have human beings made sense of the world since the dawn of time? Through conversation! Through storytelling and anecdotes.

Conversation allows us to become aware of different perspectives; it allows us to better crystalise and articulate our own thoughts and views. It improves our understanding.

And better understanding leads to improved decision making and innovation.

What's more, open conversations, learning conversations or dialogue - help build relationships. And its through relationships that everything gets done in the world.

Good conversation about subjects that matter also help surface people's passion and engagement and their propensity to act.

So why then, do so many mangers stifle and inhibit conversation within their organizations and teams when it is good to talk?

The Knowledge Cafe and the World Cafe are simple ways of encouraging and supporting conversation within organisations and thus improving understanding, decision making and innovation leading to deeper engagement and action.

Credit: Business is a Conversation - It's Good To Talk, David Gurteen

I posted the above item on The World Café discussion forum on LinkedIn mainly to promote my Knowledge Cafe workshop in London on May 2.

I wasn't expecting any comments but Bob Kanegis has stimulated the beginnings of an interesting discussion by posing the question So why then, do so many managers stifle and inhibit conversation within their organizations and teams when it is good to talk?

Why do you think conversation is so undervalued by many managers? Hop on over to the World Cafe and join the conversation but note its a closed forum, so you will need to join to read the discussion and to participate.

11:17 GDTPermanent link to #Brown Bag Lunches# Brown Bag Lunches - Comments

There are a number of conversational tools that can be used to great effect to improve learning and sharing in organisations.

The Knowledge Cafe and World Cafe are two such tools. But you can also include peer-assists, after-action reviews and post-project reviews in the list along with tools such as Open Space.

Collectively, I refer to these tools a "Conversational Cafes" as they are all about face-to-face conversation.

But there is another conversational tool that is far more widely known and used than any of the above and that's the brown bag lunch

You are not familiar with the concept then quite simply a brown bag lunch is an informal training or information or knowledge session during a lunch break.

The term brown bag comes from the fact that in the USA meals brought along by the attendees are often packed in brown paper bags.

Robert Dalton reminded me of brown bag lunches in a recent post on the Gurteen Knowledge Community Forum on LinkedIn.

From a knowledge management perspective, a brown bag lunch is a structured social gathering during an organizational lunch time period which is used specifically for the purpose of transferring knowledge, building trust, social learning, problem solving, establishing networking or brain storming

You can find more information here:

They are an excellent way of stimulating informal conversation and connecting people but note they do not have to take place at lunch time, they can take place during any break including breakfast and a brown paper bag is not a requirement!

Friday 20 April 2012

18:45 GDTPermanent link to #Reading PDF and HTML articles on my Kindle# Reading PDF and HTML articles on my Kindle - Comments

A few months ago I bought a Kindle. Funnily, I did not buy it for reading books, I bought it for reading PDF articles.

So many papers and articles are only available in PDF format and I find them almost impossible to read on-line, especially if they are formatted in two columns.

I used to have dozens of the things printed-off and lying around at any one time on my coffee table, by the side of my bed, in my book case and I could never find the one I wanted when I needed it and even then they were never easy to read even on paper.

What is great about the Kindle, is that I can email my PDFs to Amazon where they convert them to the Kindle format and usually within the hour, like magic, they appear on my Kindle.

I love it. But it gets better.

I often find interesting articles on a website in HTML format. I don't want to read them there and then and I don't want to read them online or print them off with all the headers, footers and margins.

Now I can convert these pages to read on my Kindle also. Here is the process I have been using up until now:

  • bookmark the page with Instapaper (Instapaper is a free web service that saves articles for later reading on web browsers, Apple iOS devices, and Amazon Kindle in a sripped-down text format.)
  • later, go to the stripped-down text document in Instapaper
  • print the plain text to a PDF file (I use a free printer driver called CutePDF Writer)
  • save the PDF file to a folder on my laptop. I have created one called Kindle PDFs just for the purpose.
  • email the file to my Kindle

I have just discovered, however, that I can configure Instapaper to send articles I have bookmarked directly to my Kindle. It will even compile several articles into one file. Now that's really cool.

11:27 GDTPermanent link to #You can forget facts but cannot forget understanding# You can forget facts but cannot forget understanding - Comments

This short video clip Confessions of a Converted Lecturer from a talk by Professor Erik Mazur who teaches Physics at Harvard is quite mind blowing.

Professor Mazur discovered that his students can "learn" something conceptually and re-iterate it and pass exams but still fail to understand the subject or acquire the ability to apply that learning in real world situations. No amount of "lecturing", how ever good, solves this problem.

You will find more talks from Erik Mazur in this YouTube playlist.

In the first video, you get to learn his solution "to teach by questioning rather than telling". Note how he says to the students "So turn to your neighbour and see if you can convince one another of the correct choice" and then observe the conversation and engagement with the topic and how the students effectively teach each other.

This is the essence of my Knowledge Cafes and why I feel conversation is so important in business. Its the way we really get to engage with the world and to understand stuff. It's good to talk!

08:21 GDTPermanent link to #Don Don't praise the child! - Comments

Too many students 'get by' and seek tactics that lead to good marks not good learning.

'Never praise a child, praise what they did' says Professor Black, and by this he meant praise the work of the learner and not the learner.

To praise the student encourages two ideas that are powerfully corrosive in learning; a) the idea that it's all down to ability b) the idea that the 'teacher' likes me.

To counter this, teachers must praise the work and effort, not ability of the student. Nor should teachers compare students with other students.

Praising the person also stops students from trying harder. Learners must believe they can change for the better.

Alfie Kohn offers another good reason for not praising children as he describes in this short video clip from one of his talks.

Thursday 19 April 2012

16:08 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for March 2012 - April 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Friday 30 March 2012

13:52 GDTPermanent link to #Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes, 2 May 2012, London# Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes, 2 May 2012, London - Comments

My next Knowledge Cafe workshop is in London on 2 May 2012.

As many of you know, I started running my public Knowledge Cafes in London 10 years ago out of my frustration with death-by-powerpoint type lectures. Very soon I found myself facilitating them privately for clients and discovering they had far greater power than I could ever have imagined.

They can be applied in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • transform traditional management training courses where younger managers learn from more experienced ones
  • as a powerful sales tool to engage with customers and thus better understand their needs and for them to better understand your product or service
  • surface hidden problems and opportunities that exist in the organisation or in a department or project - especially ones caused by lack of communication
  • help break down organizational silos and build internal relationships
  • give people a voice so that they feel heard and are thus less cynical and more engaged in their work
  • bring managers and technologists together after a merger to build relationships, surface new opportunities and address cultural issues
  • solicit input and obtain buy-in for a new project or initiative

In the workshop you will learn the fundamental principals and benefits of the Knowledge Café process and how to apply it to different business issues.

You will also participate in a Knowledge Cafe on the role of conversastion in business; experience the benefits first hand and get to reflect on and discuss the experience.

You will find more information here: (watch the first little video and you get an idea of the energy and passion KCafe conversations can generate).


09:29 GDTPermanent link to #Any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong.# Any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong. - Comments

When I first came across this article on Learning as Care I jumped to the conclusion that this was about teachers not caring.

Over the last few years it has become clear to me that whilst people certainly derive much of their learning from the mechanisms that we share with animals - classical and operant conditioning, observational learning - that there is a large area of human learning that works differently, and which we will never understand until we appreciate that learning is characterised by care. To put it another way: any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong.

But as I started to read, I realised that the post was all about the need for the learner to care not the teacher as I had first assumed. Some highlights from the post:

  • if people really cared about something we would have no work to do. And if we can't make people care, then we have usually done no work
  • we disseminate information without giving people a reason to care
  • we fail to provide learning resources to people who do care
  • don't tell people what is important, tell them why, tell the story
  • care is the central mechanism at the heart of all human learning - it governs both how we store information and how we subsequently use it

Some lessons here for KM, me thinks.

And once again, it brings me back to that favourite quote of mine from Plutarch.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

08:30 GDTPermanent link to #Tuesday Conversations# Tuesday Conversations - Comments

I love the way that people have taken my Knowledge Cafe or the World Cafe and adapted it in various ways for a specific business purpose. Then on the other hand, many people have quite independently developed their own conversational processes that work well for them in their own environment.

I recently received this email from an old friend Paul Hearn who works for the European Commission in Brussels and thought I would share with you his story.

Hi David,

I saw your blog post about "holding conversations rather than meetings" and it inspired this email.

I've held more than 80 Tuesday Conversation meetings in the European Commission over the past 4 years. These are informal gatherings of staff (from the lowly secretary to the Director General) held over lunchtimes on Tuesdays.

I have listed some of the topics below - it is amazing what you can talk about in and around work! We've had around 2.000 attendees in total.

I invented the TC because there was nothing like it, and it was sorely needed.

I developed a methodology for this event based on the principles of Open Space
  • whoever come are the right people (we have had 1 person and up to 54, but the show still goes on)
  • must leave if you are not getting what you want (law of 2 feet)
I also developed some "guidelines for speakers", called TC spirit, which you might find amusing see below.

It is all work in progress and hangs together on a shoestring as I have no budget and no administrative support and I do it alongside my normal work ... but hey, who every got anything good for free? I certainly never got any recognition, but that is not why I did it :-)

A selection of recent topics

  • Science in Society: Ethics and new and emerging fields of science and technology
  • Supercomputing meets the cloud and the checkbook: The future of distributed computing infrastructures for Science in Europe?
  • Social innovation: Revolution or just spin?
  • The Save the Whale Project: Walking my Talk as a Sea Shepherd Antarctic Communications Officer
  • Strategy and Operations at the US National Science Foundation
  • Managing Innovation in the Health Sector: Challenges and opportunities
  • Decarbonisation of the Power Sector - The Role of Smart Grids
  • No Silver Bullet: Creative Commons and the Future of Open Licensing
  • Reshaping Scientific Knowledge - Dissemination and Evaluation in the Age of the Web
  • Discussion with Center for Research and Development Strategy Japan
  • Market Economy, Democracy and Human Nature: On the Societal Systems and their Governance
  • Cross-disciplinary Research Leading culture change and getting the message across
  • How European SMEs Use ICT to Engage in Global Virtual Collaboration
  • What's wrong with the EU ... Dr Hix's prescription
  • Confidence in the Digital Economy - Data Protection & privacy in Europe
  • Energy - Future Emerging Technologies
  • Measuring success of research policy: Setting milestones on a very long highway
  • Grid Activities and e-Infrastructures in China
  • Grid Computing in Peking University
  • Research Communication Costs, Emerging Opportunities & Benefits: Approaches and methods
  • Opportunities for Public Technology Procurement in the ICT-related sectors in Europe
  • 20/20 Vision Lessons from 20 years in the Commission, and the challenges for the next 20 years
  • The Open Innovation Paradigm - What is it? And how important is it?
  • Open innovation strategies: Examples from two large-scale projects in Sweden
Cheers Paul

Credit: Paul Hearn, European Commission, Brussels

And here are Paul's guidelines:

Spirit of our Tuesday Conversation Meetings

  • Powerpoint presentation only if absolutely necessary and in any case limited to 30 mins or so, so we can have a good conversation after for 60 mins
  • Generally we ask a lot of questions, and there is quite a lively debate. We also commonly interrupt speakers if we are not getting what we want.
  • As it is the lunch hour, people will be going in and out, sometimes arriving late and leaving early. Speakers should not see this as reflecting anyway on themselves or the presentation (participants are instructed to feel free to move around :-).

we try to capture the spirit of urgency:
  • we try to find out why we need to be discussing this topic? what is urgent? what has changed recently?
  • what is the opportunity? what are others doing around the world? what should we be doing?
  • would anyone be against such a strategy? if so, why?

we try to shoot from the hip:
  • Getting "off the record" with our speaker. It is very nice to know, for example, what our speaker really thinks, beyond any protocol or institutional viewpoint.
  • we look for personal views and anecdotes, not institutional views. We are more interested in "one (wo)man's dream" than in the official view of institution X or Y. We like to see personal passion.
  • we cut to the point
  • we are not particularly interested in introducing ideas at length, being exhaustive, crediting everyone involved, etc.
  • we are OK with slightly politically incorrect. We like to do some preliminaries like briefly introducing the speaker, context, but then we like to get to the meat of the discussion - what is this, and why does it matter, what is the vision here and do we share it?
we try to look forward, not back
  • we are interested in knowing what the opportunity is, what might change in Europe on in the world if we can realise a futuristic vision?
we like to be stimulated
    - we like presentations that pose more questions than they answer, and we like speakers who can be provocative, polemical and lead a debate.

Based on these thoughts, speakers are asked not to see this as a "normal meeting" (whatever that is), but as an informal meeting of staff from across the institution that are taking time out over lunch to learn something which is perhaps new and may help them in their work...

Credit: Paul Hearn, European Commission, Brussels

None of this is difficult. Why not start some "Tuesday Conversations" in your own organisation.

Paul says "I have no budget and no administrative support and I do it alongside my normal work" but that did not stop him.

Thursday 29 March 2012

20:37 GDTPermanent link to #Making money or doing the work you love# Making money or doing the work you love - Comments

I came across this quote in Fortune Magazine the other day.

We don't build services to make money, we make money to build better services.

Credit: Mark Zuckerberg. Fortune Magazine, p48, March 18, 2012

I am not sure I totally believe this of Mark and Facebook but it reflects my own view.

I don't work to make money, I make money to continue to do the work I love.

Credit: David Gurteen

15:25 GDTPermanent link to #Offering free places to students at conferences# Offering free places to students at conferences - Comments

Spatial is a Kuwaiti Conference organiser who are organising a KM conference in Kuwait at the end of April.

This is what they say on their home page.

Spatial's Social Responsibility

In Spatial we believe that students are the country's future; therefore, we actively seek to involve them in our events. We dedicate free-of-charge at least 15 seats to students at our events. We also make available a corner for students to display their projects.

Credit: Spatial

This is a tremendous idea and I'd like to suggest to other conference organisers that they consider a similar offer to students.

Its an idea that I am picking up on and in future I will offer at least two free-of-charge places to students who would like to attend my workshops.

15:03 GDTPermanent link to #KM mini-interviews with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA)# KM mini-interviews with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA) - Comments

Ankur Makhija of eClerx Services informs me that they have recently uploaded a few more KM mini-interviews to their YouTube channel. The latest are with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA) and include:

  • Most Common KM Mistakes
  • Difference Between Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
  • Best Ways to Transfer Tacit Knowledge
  • When Are Case Studies Not Very Effective for KM?
  • Quantifying the Value of KM Initiatives

They are all short and well worth the time.

14:38 GDTPermanent link to #Inspiring action is more important than gaining insight# Inspiring action is more important than gaining insight - Comments

In the early days of Anecdote we believed the key purpose of story-listening was to gain insight.

Shawn wrote in a 2005 blog; "Listening to stories is one of the best ways to understand what is happening in a complex and dynamic situation ... Stories clarify the emerging patterns upon which effective interventions can be formulated."

What we have now come to realise is that, although stories do provide huge amounts of insight, the more important outcome of undertaking story-listening is that working with stories inspires action.

We see it time and time again. The energy changes in the room when people are immersed in stories from their own organisation.

The move from being spectators on the terraces to players on the pitch.

Our biggest challenge is sometimes stopping them leaving the workshop there and then to go and make some changes back in the office!

This was how Anecdote opened their February 2012 newsletter. It resonated with me as I find the same with my Knowledge Cafes. After all, the KCafe is as mcuh a platform for telling stories as it is anything else. Yes insight and improved understanding is important but being inspired to action more so.

Its all keeps coming back to that favourite quotation of mine

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

10:38 GDTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Feb 2012 - Mar 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

08:25 GMTPermanent link to #Introduction to the March 2012 Knowledge Letter# Introduction to the March 2012 Knowledge Letter - Comments

I find it hard to believe that I have been blogging for ten years. My first blog post was on 26 March 2002. It wasn't much a post but it was a start.

Back then I was often laughed at for blogging. Few people in the business world saw their power. So much has changed in 10 years and more and more people are using blogs as powerful knowledge sharing tools but we still have a long way to go.

Here is a slightly modified version of an article I wrote for Inside Knowledge Magazine in 2006 on blogging and RSS feeds. I was using Bloglines as my RSS Reader then but it died a death a few years later and today I use Google Reader.

It is interesting to note how I called blogs by their full name "weblogs" - a form of the word that is rarely used today. And in the early days there was the concept of a knowledge-log or k-log - a term that never did catch on. My blog is still called the "Gurteen Knowledge Log"

I discovered weblogs back in 2002 when a colleague suggested I take a look at them. At first I stumbled across the mass of personal weblogs that held little interest for me but then I found a single weblog that changed my life.

It was unusual for a weblog in that it was co-authored by three people: Dan Bricklin, Bob Frankston and Dave Reed. I knew all three of these gentlemen from my days with Lotus Development in Cambridge Mass. Dan Bricklin was the inventor of the spreadsheet VisiCalc back in 1982; Bob Frankston was his co-developer and Dave Reed was the Chief Architect for 1-2-3 in the late 80s.

Here were three exceptionally bright, talented people blogging about the development of the Internet - they were sharing their thoughts, musings and ideas out loud. Instantly I saw the value of weblogs as knowledge sharing tools and by the end of the evening I had developed and integrated a weblog into my own website!

Back then I used to tell people about weblogs and their potential whenever I had the opportunity but few took the time to listen or understand. After one talk I gave on weblogs at a conference, a member of the audience was overheard to say "We have been blogged and klogged to death by David Gurteen." To which his friend replied "Yes he really ought to get a life." I still chuckle about this today.

But in the intervening four years more and more people have come to see the power of weblogs as powerful social tools - tools that allow people to share, learn and collaborate. But I am still shocked at people's head-in-the-sand mentality at times. Recently when I mentioned weblogs to a senior manager he replied "Oh you mean the ramblings of the ill-informed". When I explained their power I was greeted with the response "But how do people find the time to read them; never mind write them. They need to get a life".

But it's not about lack of time - we are already overloaded. It's about a lack of understanding of their benefits and prioritising our time accordingly. I subscribe to thirty or so RSS feeds - news channels that get pushed to my own personal "newspaper" each day. Some of these feeds are from the BBC and other mainstream media but many of the feeds come from weblogs and websites.

My RSS reader keeps me informed of all the things that are important to my professional development. The information obtained in them I could find no where else - not in books, magazines, newspapers or TV. I keep abreast of new products; new technologies and new ideas. I simply could not do my job without them!

So I still find it surprising when I come across against such resistance to weblogs and RSS readers. Too many people, to my mind, are prejudiced against them without ever taking the time to really understand what they are really about and their benefits.

You don't have to write a blog to benefit. Find an RSS reader such as Google Reader and start to subscribe to just a few of the millions RSS feeds on the web. Very soon you will wonder how you ever survived without it

Credit: Inside Knowledge Magazine 2006, David - Get a Life! by David Gurteen

Thursday 23 February 2012

22:09 GMTPermanent link to #The aim of Knowledge Management should be enabling better conversations# The aim of Knowledge Management should be enabling better conversations - Comments

One simple statement that differentiates Knowledge Management from Information Management is this:
Knowledge Management is practised through activities that support better decision-making.

Information Management is practised by improving the systems that store, capture and transmit information.

And as for a definition of knowledge
Knowledge is the ability to make effective decisions and take effective action.

Credit: Adapted from Peter Senge

This tallies nicely with my view and that held by many that knowledge only resides in our heads, everything captured or written down is just information.

For me, one of the clearest examples of IM verses KM, is my recent story about the work at the ING Bank Academy. There a small team of people gather articles and reports about relevant trends in management, banking and finance that may impact the bank. They then broadcast “Research Alerts” to interested parties by e-mail.

This sort of activity ifs often seen as a KM activity but it is not - it is IM. What's more, in most organisations such activity stops there. Getting information to people is seen as enough.

But at ING Bank, they go one critical step further - they help people make sense of the information. If the Alert deserves attention they host a Knowledge Café to discuss it's implications, impact, risks and opportunities and if need be to take action. This is clearly Knowledge Management. in fact, it's a conversation.
The characteristics of conversations map to the conditions for genuine knowledge generation and sharing: they're unpredictable interactions among people speaking in their own voice about something they're interested in. The conversants implicitly acknowledge that they don't have all the answers (or else the conversation is really a lecture) and risk being wrong in front of someone else. And conversations overcome the class structure of business, suspending the organization chart at least for a little while.

If you think about the aim of Knowledge Management as enabling better conversations rather than lassoing stray knowledge doggies, you end up focusing on breaking down the physical and class barriers to conversation. And if that's not what Knowledge Management is really about, then you ought to be doing it anyway.

More and more, I see KM as being about enabling conversations: "Business really is a conversation".

And this brings me to my Knowledge Cafe workshops.

I am running another one on 02 May 2012 in London. The workshop is not just about the Knowledge Cafe as a conversation or KM tool but explores the broader role of conversation in business; its relevance and importance.

Do come along if you are interested and join the conversation. You'll find more information here.

18:55 GMTPermanent link to #World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements# World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements - Comments

I recently received an email from Jamie Feild Baker of the The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence who told me all about John Hunter and his World Peace Game and who has since sent me a full-length copy of the film World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements

As I first watched the film and the complexity of the game started to dawn on me, I was highly sceptical that these 4th graders could possibly cope with it. I was wrong, so damned wrong! Watching the kids handle the complexities and ambiguities of the game is absolutely delightful. I'd have little problem with putting them in charge of the world tomorrow!

Take a look at the trailer below - it gives a fair insight into the game and kids.

This is what education should be like and be about. I am so impressed with John Hunter. Jamie - a big thanks for sharing this with me.

World Peace...and other 4th-grade achievements interweaves the story of John Hunter, a teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his students' participation in an exercise called the World Peace Game.

The game triggers an eight-week transformation of the children from students of a neighborhood public school to citizens of the world.

The film reveals how a wise, loving teacher can unleash students' full potential.

The film traces how Hunter's unique teaching career emerges from his own diverse background.

An African-American educated in the segregated schools of rural Virginia, where his mother was his 4th grade teacher, he was selected by his community to be one of seven students to integrate a previously all-white middle school.

After graduation, he traveled extensively to China, Japan, and India, and his exposure to the Ghandian principles of non-violence led him to ask what he could do as a teacher to work toward a more peaceful world.

Hunter teaches the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and he provides his students with the tools for this effort.

The children learn to collaborate and communicate with each other as they work to resolve the Game's conflicts.

They learn how to compromise while accommodating different perspectives and interests. Most importantly, the students discover that they share a deep and abiding interest in taking care of each other. World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements will inspire others by documenting the unheralded work of a true peacemaker.

World Peace Game's Core Principles

  • Contradictory elements can and should co-exist
  • Deliberate creation of an overwhelming sense of diverse complexity or fostering, in other words…chaos
  • Encouragement of complex problem solving in a collaborative situation
  • Stimulate the development of empathy and compassion
  • Promote the ability to hold and maintain multiple perspectives simultaneously, around an issue while withholding judgment
  • Slowing down the problem solving process, provides:
    • Depth over time – Stimulation of and support for long term thinking
    • Increase in possible solutions
    • Richness (complexity)
  • Promote critical thinking via:
    • Apprehending the natural inherent complexity and simplicity mixture
    • Directly engaging with complexity vs. avoiding or parsing
    • Promoting non-attachment to phenomena as useful tool
  • Reveal personal inherent skills
  • Team-based solutions formed by deliberate pressures (i.e. deadlines), and a sense of urgency
  • The ability to cultivate and maintain acute problem solving skills over time
  • Facilitate Self-Reflective awareness through Self-Evident Assessment (SEA) (internalized evaluation)
  • Creation of a reflective thinking log to follow personal exploration of the process of mind habits
  • Show, understand, and appreciate the value of non-measurable outcomes.
  • Extrapolation of actions/reactions in multiple directions/levels at once
  • No experts
  • Luxury to fail
  • Flexibility
  • Elaboration

14:13 GMTPermanent link to #The flipped classroom: turning traditional teaching on its head# The flipped classroom: turning traditional teaching on its head - Comments

I have been talking more and more recently about the concept of flip teaching. Its one of the most exciting developments have come across in quite a while and I am convinced it is going to transform traditional education.

I am interested in education and its effectiveness but what really interests me is that the philosophy behind flip teaching is the same as my Knowledge Cafes and the work at the ING Bank Academy.

We don't learn well from being lectured at but we do learn well from engaging conversations.

Credit: David Gurteen

Here is a cool Infographic that describes the concept:

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

And here is YouTube playlist on Flip Teaching I have put together that you may enjoy.

I am also starting to experiment with Storify. Here is a story on the Flip Classroom created by Jennifer Fenton.

11:46 GMTPermanent link to #Bookwormery: fuelling your children Bookwormery: fuelling your children's desire to know more - Comments

I have two amazing daughters, Lauren and Sally, who both blog. And I have one amazing son, Jonathan, who doesn't blog. Both my daughters love cats and so the names of their blogs will come as no surprise.

Neither of the blogs have anything to do with KM - thank goodness. More insights into their lives.

One of the things I am so pleased I took the time to do when they were little was to read to them at bedtime. It was never a chore, part of the enjoyment of being a dad

And so this post on Bookwormery by Sally is a lovely kind of thank you from her.

From a very early age, our father would always read to us. He would take us to the bookshop at the weekend and we would buy books to read in the week. We would listen to his warm voice and fall asleep to it. As a result of this, while the other children at school were reading books recommended for their age, I was given the privilege of reading whatever I liked and I often chose older, more challenging material, which only fuelled my desire to know more!

From left to right: Sally, Jonathan, me, Lauren.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

11:10 GMTPermanent link to #How do we tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?# How do we tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way? - Comments

It is perhaps the defining question of our time: How to tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?

The answer, I am convinced, lies in what I call the diplomacy of knowledge, defined as our ability and willingness to work together and share our learning across disciplines and borders.

When people achieve the right mixture of creativity, communication and co-operation, remarkable things can happen.

I was pleased to come across this article by David Johnston, the Governor-General of Canada. It's a question I ask myself almost every day. What David Johnston refers to as the "diplomacy of knowledge" is to me what KM should be all about.

David makes some excellent points in his article though I must admit I have sympathies with one of the commenters who says "A nice Pollyanna, apple pie, motherhood essay."

Working together and sharing together across disciplines and borders as David advocates is good but I don't think sufficient. There is something fundamental missing. I believe Peter Block is thinking along the right lines when he says we need to change our thinking about what constitutes action.

My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.

This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.

Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.

Interesting thoughts. I am thinking about the role my Knowledge Cafes could play in this.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

20:47 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Jan 2012 - Feb 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Monday 23 January 2012

16:54 GMTPermanent link to #Announcing a Virtual Knowledge Cafe on Social Artistry# Announcing a Virtual Knowledge Cafe on Social Artistry - Comments

Michele Martin and Brent MacKinnon are organizing a 9-week Knowledge Cafe that they plan to run online, starting February 20, 2012.

It's open to anyone who's interested in learning with them about the skills and talents of social artists and who want to explore how social artistry might fit into their professional practice.

I am delighted to learn that they will be adapting my Gurteen Knowledge Cafe model and Bo Gyllenpalm,s Virtual Knowledge Cafe as a learning framework. If you do nothing else take a look at Bo,s Virtual Knowledge Cafe concept. It's a very powerful adaptation of the Cafe model to an online environment.

If the term social artistry is new to you then here is a simple definition but click through to Micheles blog post to understand the term better. Its one of those concepts that's hard to pin down and define in one or two sentences.

Social artistry is about creating space for change and transformation, which is what learning is really all about. How do we create the space for people to be together, to learn from their experiences and connections and to move them to make a difference in their part of the world? How do we help people grow into their possibilities?

This looks like a great experiment and although I don't have time to take part myself I am looking forward to hearing how it goes.

14:51 GMTPermanent link to #The role of Creative Commons Licences in a KM environment# The role of Creative Commons Licences in a KM environment - Comments

Paul Corney sent me this email recently:

Dear All,

In a couple of week's time I am going to be in Sudan at a KM event for Africa and one of the discussions is going to focus on the role of Creative Commons Licences in a KM environment.

In the development arena some organisations publish under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licences and I was wondering how successful the use of these licences are in other industries in fostering collaboration.

I considered whether to post this on various km lists but thought some people might not want to respond in public so could I therefore ask you to respond to a few simple questions (I will not attribute your response unless you ask me to):

  • Have you published works under a creative commons licence and if so which one?
  • What was the work about and why did you publish via a creative commons licence?
  • Can you give a personal example that illustrates the benefit from publishing in this way?

Thank you for taking the trouble to look at this.

And finally every best wish for a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2012.


Paul J Corney l Managing Partner

This was my reply:

Dear Paul

I have been publishing almost all of my work under a creative commons license for five years or more.

For example. here is the slide that I have at end the end of all of my presentations.


This license says you are free:

  • to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
  • to make derivative works
  • to make commercial use of the work


  • Attribution: you must give the original author credit.
  • Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a licence identical to this one.

I do this for several reasons:

  • I am building on the shoulders of others, I have no legitimate claim over most of my material
  • If they really want to, people are going to take and use my material whatever I say (and am I really going to take them to court over it!)
  • My business strategy is to give most of my written material away as marketing material and to charge for me in person
  • I want to encourage people to take my material and remix it and attribute me where appropriate

But more than anything I do it to encourage others to do the same and to share freely.

Do I have a personal example of the benefit of using the licence? No nothing specific, other than people do take my material, reuse it and remix it and thus help spread some of the messages I am keen to spread.

best wishes David

You will find more thoughts on this subject in an article of mine: Raising all the ships on the sea where I talk about the tangible and intangible "commons".

09:10 GMTPermanent link to #Challenging Minds with Knowledge Cafes at the ING Bank Academy# Challenging Minds with Knowledge Cafes at the ING Bank Academy - Comments

I recently came across this article in Forbes magazine Is the Traditional Corporate University Dead? by Karl Moore and Phil Lenir.

Imagine my delight when I learnt that the ING Business School in the Netherlands had adapted my Knowledge Cafe process and were using it as part of their Challenging Minds programme.

I immediately contacted Mireille Jansma and Jurgen Egges to congratulate them on their work and the article. This instigated a conversation with Mireille where I discovered that she had learnt about my Knowledge Cafe over four years ago through my website and then experienced one that I ran at an ECKM conference in Barcelona in 2007. In fact, I recall sitting outside the conference in the courtyard having a long conversation with her.

Mireille and Jurgen have adapted the Cafe format and are using it in two ways. The first way is described in the Forbes article that I summarise here:

  • They gather articles and reports about relevant trends in management, banking, and finance
  • They then broadcast "Research Alerts"
  • When an Alert deserves serious attention, they host a Knowledge Café
  • The KCafes are targeted at specific groups or open to anyone
  • Sometimes the KCafe is triggered by a video
  • They follow through with online discussion groups

These types of initiatives focus on topics that are highly relevant and in-the-moment for managers and workers, and where the sharing of ideas and exchange of opinions lead to creativity and innovation.

They are also using the Knowledge Cafes in a second way as part of their Challenging Minds programme as described in the document below. Unfortunately they did not win the EFMD award but its an innovative approach to teaching nevertheless. It shares a lot in common with Flip Teaching that I blogged about recently.

Connect, Connect, Connect
Creating a New Approach to Leverage Social, Collaborative, and Emergent Organizational Learning

Application for the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Excellence in Practice Award 2011

Executive Summary

This case study describes an ongoing partnership between ING Business School (IBS) recently renamed the ING Bank Academy and CoachingOurselves (CO) that began in January 2010. It focuses not on a single learning intervention but rather on the evolution of a continually and broadly expanding application of CO learning philosophies and materials to a wide range of IBS development programs that serve all of ING's leaders, managers, and employees.

CoachingOurselves provides a library of topics intended for 6 to 8 managers to read and discuss in group sessions. IBS partnered with CO initially to use a few topics, but the success of CO as a tool that fosters social, collaborative, and emergent learning that leads to meaningful improvements in management performance and engagement, along with its low-cost, modular topics, and immediate relevance, has led IBS to broadly incorporate CO into many of its learning initiatives.

Connect, Connect, Connect Creating a New Approach toLeverage Social, Collaborative, and Emergent Organizat...

Video: Interview with Mireille Jansma and Jurgen Egges of the ING Business Academy in Amsterdam

This is a short video interview with Mireille Jansma and Jurgen Egges of the ING Business Academy in Amsterdam in November 2011 where David Gurteen asks them how they learnt about his Knowledge Cafe concept and how it has played a role in their "Challenging Minds" programme.

Media Information: Image

Video: Interview with David Gurteen at the ING Business Academy

This is a short video interview with David Gurteen by Mireille Jansma of the ING Business Academy in Amsterdam in November 2011 where she asks him what he thinks of their "Challenging Minds" programme having just experienced one of the sessions

Media Information: Image

06:49 GMTPermanent link to #Is Knowledge Management Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture?# Is Knowledge Management Losing Sight of the Bigger Picture? - Comments

In this recent article by Waltraut Ritter she says:

Knowledge management practices are often narrowly focusing on internal operations and not addressing larger questions about the nature and sustainability of the knowledge driving the organization. There seems to be a separation of KM from the overall business strategy, a general neglect of addressing the larger questions about an organization's knowledge and how such knowledge may create societal value beyond a company's financial gains.

And concludes the article by saying:

How can we, as knowledge management professionals, engage in a deeper conversation and exchange about value creation through knowledge, allow more critical questions about existing practices which only touch the surface of real knowledge challenges, in organizations and society?

To my mind, Waltraut is spot on here. This is what KM should be about. And of course, its one of the aims of my Knowledge Cafes "to engage in that deeper conversation".

Sunday 22 January 2012

19:28 GMTPermanent link to #Henley KM Forum Conference and Positive Deviance# Henley KM Forum Conference and Positive Deviance - Comments

Those of you in the UK may be interested in attending the Annual Henley KM Forum Conference on Wednesday 29 February and Thursday 1 March 2012 at the Henley Business School in Henley on Thames. There is a great line up of speakers, including Hubert Saint-Onge, Chris Collison, David Griffiths, Victor Newman, Elizabeth Lank and Nick Milton.

I have attended this conference almost every year for the last 12 years and I highly recommend it. The Henley KM Forum brings together business practitioners, industry thought-leaders, experts and academics to help organisations tackle the challenges presented by the knowledge economy. It's this rich blend of people and the interactive, engaging style of their events that I enjoy.

I love to spark conversations and at the conference dinner, I will be speaking for 10 minutes before we eat on one of my favourite topics Positive Deviance

Positive Deviance is an approach to behavioural and social change based on the observation that in every community there are individuals or groups of people (so called Positive Deviants) whose behaviours and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers even though they have access to the same resources and face similar challenges. In this talk, David will take a look at some of the principals that underlie Positive Deviance and what he thinks KM practitioners and leaders can learn from the approach

I will then ask everyone to spend a little time during conversation over their meal to discuss my talk. We will then spend 20 mins or so at the end of the evening sharing our thoughts with each other.

It should be a fun, engaging two days.

12:49 GMTPermanent link to #Visionary knowledge management: Trends and Strategies# Visionary knowledge management: Trends and Strategies - Comments

It's not very often I get called a KM visionary and I am not so sure that I am one but its good to be included in this German article on Visionary Knowledge Management: Trends and Strategies

The authors of this article go to the question of how organizations in 2020 to deal with knowledge. For this they have analyzed in a first step, national and international knowledge management conferences, publications and Internet publications to locate knowledge management visionaries. There are four visionaries are noticed because of your keynotes and their publications on knowledge management trends: David Griffiths, Dave Snowden, David Gurteen and Norbert Gronau. They are presented here together with their theories and visions for dealing with knowledge. At the end of these theories are compared and discussed.

Google Translate does quite a good job of translating the article from German into English.

09:34 GMTPermanent link to #Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2012# Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2012 - Comments

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Dec 2011 - Jan 2012. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Saturday 21 January 2012

14:19 GMTPermanent link to #Knowledge Menu a la Carte in Turin# Knowledge Menu a la Carte in Turin - Comments

ETF Turin November 2011
You can see the language banners on the tables and the three translation booths overlooking the room.

In November last year, I spent an interesting two days in Turin with the European Training Foundation (ETF). The ETF is an EU agency that helps transition and developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU's external relations policy.

During my time there, I ran two knowledge cafes.

The first was part of a two day workshop for around 90 participants from ETF member countries where they discussed the role of evidence in "governance and effective Vocational Education and Training (VET) policies".

Member countries included Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Kosovo.

So quite an ethnic mix.

This was the more challenging of the two knowledge cafes given the large number of people and the fact that three languages were being spoken: English, French and Russian.

This meant that each table needed to be labelled with the language intended to be spoken at that table and when people changed tables they needed to move to a table where their language was spoken. My introduction to the KCafe and explanation of the process was simultaneously translated into French and Russian.

Then where as normal, I would have brought everyone together in a circle at the end of the KCafe, I simply asked for a few people to share with the rest of the group what they had learnt from their conversations. This was done by handing around a couple of stick mikes. Not the perfect way to run one of my KCafes but a reasonable adaptation in the circumstances.

Several people, found me after the event to say how much they enjoyed the KCafe and I was pleased that two of them told me they were already using the process in their own organisations

I even had a woman from Kazakhstan ask through an interpreter if I had a description of the KCafe process In Russian. I don't but it has prompted me to think about writing a short document that could be translated into multiple languages to explain the process. I may be asking for help on this at a later date :-)

ETF Turin November 2011 ETF Turin November 2011
The conversation menu.

And then on the second day I ran a Knowledge Cafe for a much smaller group (about 20) of KM managers. This was a more regular KCafe. What was interesting though was the meal the evening before.

Ian Cumming who had attended one of my Knowledge Cafe workshops in London a few weeks before had heard me talk about Theordore Zeldins conversation dinners. Inspired by this he had created a conversational menu for the evening. Not quite along Theodore's lines but interesting nevertheless. My first reaction was that no one would select a conversation from the menu as the questions were far too work related.

I was proven wrong in part. There were three tables in the dining room, each seating about 6 people. My table was the only one that drew some of our conversation from the menu (and that was not my doing).

What surprised me was how well it worked. Given it was a social evening, we did not stick too closely to the questions and there was a lot of laughter and banter but the conversation was to my mind interesting and valuable nevertheless.

If you get the opportunity try it.


The Gurteen Knowledge Search Engine is a customised Google search engine that searches over 800 KM related websites and weblogs.

David Gurteen

Follow me on Twitter
More about David Gurteen

I help people to share their knowledge; to learn from each other; to innovate and to work together effectively to make a difference!

Services I offer
My schedule
How to contact me

My status

My Blog

Gurteen Knowledge Community
The Gurteen Knowledge Community
The Gurteen Knowledge Community is a global learning community of over 21,000 people in 160 countries across the world.

The community is for people who are committed to making a difference: people who wish to share and learn from each other and who strive to see the world differently, think differently and act differently.

Membership of the Gurteen Knowledge Community is free.
Knowledge Community

Weblog Archive



request help
visitor book
My status
Sunday 20 April 2014
05:12 PM GDT