Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 172 - October 2014


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 172 - October 2014


  1. Introduction to the October 2014 Knowledge Letter
  2. Avoiding groupthink in conversations
  3. Adding knowledge cafés to the repertoire of knowledge sharing techniques
  4. There is something special about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally
  5. PEER ASSIST! Calling all charters, codes of conduct and guidelines
  6. Beautiful Questions: Are questions more important than answers?
  7. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2014
  8. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  9. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  10. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the October 2014 Knowledge Letter

At the risk of getting a little boring I'd like to briefly talk about Randomised Coffee Trials again. Quite simply, if you have not taken a look at them yet - then give over a few minutes of your time to learn about them.

Apart from other benefits they are a powerful way of increasing the opportunities for serendipity and thus innovation in your organization - something I talk about here There is something special about meetings in the flesh which cannot be replicated digitally.

I also just came across a service called Global Hangouts which is designed to "ignite inspiring conversations about pressing global issues by introducing young people from different countries to each other."

It seems a great concept and you can see the connection to RCTs. I would give it a go myself but I don't quite fit the "young people" profile. Maybe I should create one for "oldies" like me :-)

Actually, I think it would be far more interesting to connect young people with old people across cultural divides - it would make for some potentially interesting conversations.

Avoiding groupthink in conversations

I wrote extremely briefly recently about Group Think & Group Polarization to make the point that two of the biggest challenges facing group conversation are how to overcome Group Think and Group Polarization.

I was delighted a few days later when Paul Sloane picked up on this and wrote a short article How to Fight the Scourge of Groupthink.

Thanks Paul.

When I get a little bit more time I will write about how to how to ensure that when you design a Knowledge Cafe - you can avoid or at least reduce Group Think and Group Polarization as although the Cafe process naturally tends to avoid these issues, in some circumstances extra care needs to be taken.

Dave Snowden's ritual dissent method has a role to play here.

Adding knowledge cafés to the repertoire of knowledge sharing techniques

There are not too many academic articles published on the Knowledge Cafe so I am delighted that Prof Martie Mearns and Tracy Lefika at the Department of Information and Knowledge Management - University of Johannesburg have published an article on the Knowledge Cafe as a knowledge sharing application. Martie, Tracy, a big thank you.

Knowledge cafés, a fairly new technique used to facilitate knowledge sharing, offer individuals within organisations the opportunity to interact on a face to face level with topics that are relevant to a particular organisation, and enhances knowledge transfer.

One of the major impediments of knowledge cafés is that, to date, there is limited literature concerning this knowledge sharing technique.

For this reason data was gathered through a Delphi study to investigate and discuss various aspects of knowledge cafés as used for the purpose of knowledge sharing.

The results of the study provide guidelines, advantages, disadvantages and similar techniques to knowledge cafés.

The core differences between knowledge cafés and world cafés are also highlighted.

Essentially it is the aim of this article to add knowledge cafés to the existing repertoire of knowledge sharing techniques by firstly reviewing literature on the existing techniques used for knowledge sharing and then elaborating on the value of knowledge cafés as a knowledge sharing application.

The article published in the International Journal of Information Management can be downloaded for free from here until 5 December 2014. So download it now, after that you will need to pay :-)

There is something special about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally

I wrote a little while back about Serendipity and Randomised Coffee Trials and since then I seem to keep coming across articles on the role and importance of serendipity in organizations. Here are a few quotes from two recent articles.
  • Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.

  • We get a particular intellectual charge from sharing ideas in person.

  • If you just think of serendipity as an interaction with an unintended outcome, you can orchestrate pleasant surprises.

  • Silicon Valley's greatest advances came through collaboration -- making serendipitous encounters critical.

  • There is something special ... about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally.

  • When Steve Jobs designed a new headquarters for Pixar, he obsessed over ways to structure the atrium, and even where to locate the bathrooms, so that serendipitous personal encounters would occur.

Serendipity has always been a big part of what my Knowledge Cafes have been all about. You can never predict the outcomes of a conversation. Conversations have a life of their own - you have little control over them. They take you where they want to take you - sometimes down blind alleys but more often than not to fascinating places you would have never have visited on your own.

PEER ASSIST! Calling all charters, codes of conduct and guidelines

Sparknow would love your help. They're currently doing some benchmarking of cultural charters at organisations - knowledge, information, records management, behaviour, values, greenness, diversity, ethics, moral compass, risk management, even running effective meetings - in fact any charter, code of conduct or guidelines that codify and make explicit what's expected of people and what they can expect of each other.

An example of a charter, and of bringing it to life, would be the Natural England's 2008 ‘ask, learn, share' knowledge charter which you can read a little about here

Could you please share with Sparknow
  • any charters, codes, guidelines etc (by whatever name) at all that you might have been part of making or involved with implementing
  • any case studies you like, have experienced or know about
  • any personal experiences of how (not) to get something like this done
They will consolidate whatever they get and share it back of course, upholding a principle of generosity and generating shared resources.

All contributions and queries to Victoria Ward [email protected]

Beautiful Questions: Are questions more important than answers?

Andrew Armour pointed me to a great book recently A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.

He has since posted a review in two parts: Book Review -- A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. Part One and A More Beautiful Marketing Question? Part Two

So what is a beautiful question?

A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something -- and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.

That definition makes clear that this book is not about grand philosophical or spiritual questions -- Why are we here? How does one define "good"? Is there life after death? -- all of those great questions that spark endless, impassioned debate ... the focus here is on questions that can be acted upon.

When designing Knowledge Cafes - such beautiful questions should be crafted to serve as catalysts for the conversation.

Warren's book looks like a great new resource but also take a look at The Art of Powerful Questions by Eric E. Vogt, Juanita Brown, and David Isaacs.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: October 2014

Here are some of my more recent intersting tweets. 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.

  • All books talk but a good book listens as well. Sarah Rozenthuler @srozenthuler Life Changing Conversations YouTube http://bit.ly/1D1jXap

  • Bill Gates or Steve Jobs? Who will we remember in 50 years? http://linkd.in/1CTSyXJ

  • The Chemistry of Connection by @DanielGolemanEI http://linkd.in/1yQMba9

  • We don't need more scientific data ... but to engage individuals at a deep emotional, psychological & spiritual level http://bit.ly/1xRlLBU

  • People think they like creativity. But teachers, scientists, and executives are biased against new ways of thinking http://theatln.tc/1t580PF

  • Conversations aren't trivial. Culture is reinforced by shared conversations and understanding Euan Semple http://bit.ly/1t326zI

  • Through conversation we connect, we communicate, we influence and we learn @IndaloGenesis http://bit.ly/1t326zI

  • How to Use "Conversational Leadership" to Manage Your Company http://bit.ly/1tzBebz

  • The new building is really designed to spark not just collaboration but that innovation you see when people collide http://bit.ly/1DbroO5

  • The real task of leadership is to confront people with their freedom. Peter Block http://bit.ly/1DzmICV #GurteenTalk

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

Upcoming Knowledge Events

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.

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

LEARNTech Asia Conference 2014
13 - 14 Nov 2014, Singapore City, Singapore

KM Asia 2014
18 - 20 Nov 2014, Singapore City, Singapore

KM Russia 2014
27 - 28 Nov 2014, Moscow, Russia

30 Nov - 01 Dec 2014, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

7th Iranian Knowledge Management Conference
17 - 18 Feb 2015, Tehran, Iran

3rd International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
19 - 20 Mar 2015, Durban, South Africa

7th European Conference on Intellectual Capital
09 - 10 Apr 2015, Cartagena, Spain

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

You may subscribe to this newsletter on my website. Or if you no longer wish to receive this newsletter or if you wish to modify your e-mail address or make other changes to your membership profile then please go to this page on my website.

The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

The Gurteen Knowledge-Letter is a free monthly e-mail based KM newsletter for knowledge workers. Its purpose is to help you better manage your knowledge and to stimulate thought and interest in such subjects as Knowledge Management, Learning, Creativity and the effective use of Internet technology. Archive copies are held on-line where you can register to receive the newsletter.

It is sponsored by the Henley Forum of the Henley Business School, Oxfordshire, England.

You may copy, reprint or forward all or part of this newsletter to friends, colleagues or customers, so long as any use is not for resale or profit and I am attributed. And if you have any queries please contact me.

Gurteen Knowledge
Fleet, United Kingdom

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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