Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 7 - 11th December 2000


First Published

December 2000

The Gurteen Knowledge Letter is a monthly newsletter that is distributed to members of the Gurteen Knowledge Community. You may receive the Knowledge Letter by joining the community. Membership is totally free. You may read back-copies here.


Welcome to seventh and the last Knowledge-Letter of the year.


1 - On Paradigms
2 - The Next Coffeemachine Lecture
3 - Quotation:On the Limitations of What we Think and Do
4 - Book Review: Leading the Revolution
5 - Quick Clicks
6 - People: Thomas Kuhn
7 - Benchmarking your KM Intranet
8 - KM Europe
9 - Achieving Business Objectives
10 - The 404 Research Lab
11 - Events


I have always found the concept of the "paradigm" an interesting and
useful one when thinking about the nature of knowledge. Unfortunately
like the terms Knowledge" and "Knowledge Management" the word has
been debased by widespread inaccurate usage. It is a misused, abused,
misunderstood and even hated word. But it is an extremely important
concept. One that we should take the time to fully understand.

A paradigm is a way of thinking, perceiving, communicating and
viewing the world. It is often called a world-view or a mindset. The
important point to understand about a paradigm is that it works at
the subconscious level. We are not aware of our own paradigms. Its a
bit like thinking the whole world is coloured red - unaware that we
are wearing rose tinted contact lenses.

Paradigms include theories, principles, values, beliefs, and
doctrines. They can be thought of as a rigid tacit infrastructure of
ideas that shape not only our thinking but also our perception of the
world. When someone says "we need a new paradigm for this." It is a
misuse of the word. All they are saying is "we need a new approach or
we need a new way of looking at things". By the very definition of
the word - our personal and organisational paradigms are not known to

For more on paradigms see:


The next meeting of the Coffeemachine will be on Tuesday 12th
December at 6.30pm, at the City University Business School (CUBS),

The lecture "Games, Knowledge and Achieving the Competitive Edge"
will be given by Dr. Chris Brady, Director of the CUBS Day MBA

*** The session is free and anyone is welcome to attend. ***

*** RSVP to Angela Hector mailto:[email protected] ***

For more information, including directions:


Here is an amusing and convincing little quotation that captures the
essence of the meaning of the word "paradigm".

"The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to
notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there
is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds."

To view this quotation on my web site and its associated links:

Further quotations can be found on my web site:


"Leading the Revolution is for everyone who has the guts to act on
the knowledge that our heritage is no longer our destiny. With a
compelling message that will set the new innovation agenda for the
next century, this groundbreaking book from the premier business
thinker of our time is a call to arms for the dreamers and doers who
will lead us into the age of revolution."

--- so says the fly-cover of the book.

As you may have gathered this is a motivational book written in an
evangelistic style which may not to everyone's taste. This shows up
clearly in the reviews on Amazon. People love it or hate it.
Personally I enjoyed it - it is an easy fun read even though it means
the book is maybe twice as long as it need be to get across its basic
messages. It is also full of pictures and quotes which for me added
greatly to its readability.

The book is fundamentally a wake up call to everyone within an
organization - the message being that innovation comes from
individuals who dare to think differently. I'd thoroughly recommend
it to anyone whatever their level in an organization.

For links to Amazon:


This month's quick clicks:

Coaching University:

The World of Richard Dawkins:

FastCompany Magazine:

Henley Management College:

Esalen Institute:


This month's influential person is Thomas Kuhn. Although he did not
invent the word "paradigm" - he did make it extremely popular.

His theory of scientific revolution was a landmark in 20th-century
intellectual history. His book "The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions" was conceived while he was still a graduate student in
theoretical physics and was published in 1962. The book dispelled the
widely held view that scientific change was a strictly rational
process. His view was that science was not a steady, cumulative
acquisition of knowledge. Instead, he saw it as "a series of peaceful
interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions." in
which "one conceptual world-view was replaced by another." He called
these world-views "paradigms".

His ideas influenced not only scientists but also economists,
historians, sociologists and philosophers and initiated considerable
debate. His book has sold over one million copies in 16 languages and
is required reading in many basic courses in the history and
philosophy of science.

Dr. Kuhn was a professor of philosophy and history of science at MIT
from 1979 to 1983 and the Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor of
Philosophy from 1983 until 1991. He was the author or co-author of
five books and scores of articles on the philosophy and history of
science. He died in 1995

See more about Thomas Kuhn

See: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions


The ArkGroup runs a number of Intranet courses in the UK, Europe and
the US (see the Events listing at the end of this newsletter). I
recently attended a "Benchmarking your KM Intranet" course and then
later facilitated a workshop at a "Benchmarking your HR Intranet"
course. To my mind these are extremely good events as you get to
visit 3 maybe 4 live Intranet sites and experience them for real.

In developing the workshop and responding to questions afterwards I
pulled together a small amount of useful material on Intranets in
general and on Intranets and Human Resources.

For more on HR:

For more on Intranets:


I recently attended the KM Europe Exhibition/Conference in Brussels.
This event was attended by over 2,000 people. The opening day's
keynote presentations were by Larry Prusak (IBM) and Stephen Denning
(The World Bank). It was an excellent event. If you are thinking of
attending KM 2001 follow the links below for more information. It is
being held in both Europe (The Netherlands) and Asia (Singapore.)

KM Europe 2001:

KM Asia 2001:


Some time ago I read an interview with Michael Schrage, talking to
Knowledge Inc. In the interview he made the following insightful

"I think Knowledge Management is a bullshit issue. Let me tell you
why. I can give you perfect information, I can give you perfect
knowledge and it won't change your behaviour one iota. People choose
not to change their behaviour because the culture and the imperatives
of the organisation make it too difficult to act upon the knowledge.
Knowledge is not the power. Power is power. The ability to act on
knowledge is power. Most people in most organisations do not have the
ability to act on the knowledge they possess. End of story."

It inspired my thoughts at the time as in some ways - Knowledge
Management really is a bullshit issue! It is only one piece of the
jigsaw. And is not the part of the picture that we should be focusing
on! What is important in business is achieving things. We should be
talking about Achievement Management - not just Knowledge Management.

This inspired me to write a short article that was published earlier
this year in the "Intelligence in Industry" newsletter from Unicom

To see the full article:

Unicom Seminars


The web throws up some unlikely but very useful and interesting sites
at times. "The 404 Research Lab" is one of them. The site is
committed to improving the Internet through the systematic
eradication of what they describe as the ugly and confusing '404 Not
Found' errors.

It seems that up to 70% of the 404s you encounter on the web can be
corrected. The site provides tips that will help you easily resolve
many 404 error message. In addition, if you a a web master or build
sites for a living then you will also find lots good information on
how to design your site to avoid 404s and how to handle them in a
more user friendly fashion when then do occur.

See the 404 Research Lab

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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