Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 233 - November 2019


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 233 - November 2019


  1. Introduction to the November 2019 Knowledge Letter
  2. Henley Forum Annual Conference 05 - 06 February 2020
  3. Disagree constructively
  4. The Art of Being a Couple
  5. Should you intervene in an argument?
  6. Why transferring knowledge through discussion is more effective than written documents
  7. You can never merely do one thing
  8. Encourage dissent
  9. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2019
  10. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  11. Please help support my work
  12. Unsubscribe
  13. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the November 2019 Knowledge Letter

I ran my first Knowledge Café at the Strand Palace Hotel in London on 5th September 2002 and as they say the rest is history.

Over the years I have run many more public Cafés in London (my London Knowledge Cafés) and around the world. I have also designed and facilitated Cafés for organizations - most recently for the World Health Organization in Geneva and for the Swansea University School of Management.

This last year or two though I have taken my focus off the Cafés a little as I put effort into my research and writing around the broader topic of Conversational Leadership.

In 2020, I plan to reinvigorate my work with the Cafés and plan to run my London Knowledge Cafés one a month starting in February. Hopefully, the first will be at Regents University where we will discuss the knowledge, skills and/or capabilities that Universities of the Future should be teaching students.

You can learn more about the Café concept, come along to a London Café, run one yourself or invite me to design and run one for you. Get in touch if you have any questions.

Henley Forum Annual Conference 05 - 06 February 2020

This year's Henley Forum Annual Conference (it's the 20th!) takes place 05 - 06 February 2020 at the Henley Business School on the theme Collaboration for Innovation: Celebrating leading-edge practice.

I have attended almost all of the conferences over the last 20 years and will be there again this year. Don't ask me where the time has gone!

It will be particularly good to meet up with Edward Truch and Leif Edvinsson who were heavily involved in the early years and who will be speaking in 2020.

To my mind, the Forum conference is the best KM conference by far, both in terms of speakers, content and interactivity. The location on the banks of the river Thames is also hard to beat.

You don't need to be a member of the Forum to attend and you can book online here. Note, if you an ex-member of the Forum there is a particularly attractive discount.

Disagree constructively

Disagreement is an inevitable part of life. We mostly do it badly. Paul Graham's disagreement hierarchy provides a structure for thinking about doing it better. There are seven levels.

  1. Name-calling.

    This is the lowest form of disagreement, and probably also the most common.

  2. Ad Hominem.

    An ad hominem attack is not quite as weak as mere name-calling.

  3. Responding to Tone.

    The next level up we start to see responses to the writing, rather than the writer.

  4. Contradiction.

    In this stage we finally get responses to what was said, rather than how or by whom.

  5. Counterargument.

    At this level we reach the first form of convincing disagreement: counterargument.

  6. Refutation.

    The most convincing form of disagreement is refutation.

  7. Refuting the Central Point.

    The force of a refutation depends on what you refute. The most powerful form of disagreement is to refute someone's central point.
Only from level four upwards (contradiction) do we reach the first form of a convincing disagreement. Take a look at any difference of opinion on Facebook or other online discussion forums - rarely does a disagreement exceed level three. Far too much name calling and ad hominem attacks.

The Art of Being a Couple

Don't be fooled by the title of this talk The Art of Being a Couple from Theodore Zeldin - it is not to do with the art of being a couple but the importance of getting to understand each other by listening to each other.

Should you intervene in an argument?

What should you do if two people you know are arguing in front of you? Should you intervene in some way?

I have a rule (that I often break through lack of discipline), "never argue or try to advise someone when they are emotional." They do not appreciate it and only get more emotional and argumentative. The time to have a conversation, if one is needed, is the next day or later when the emotion has subsided.

Many people naturally engage in arguments and are the best of friends an hour or two later. Likely, by intervening, you will only make things worse, or they will turn on you.

If you feel you must do something then as I suggest above, do it the following day - not with the two of them together but one on one. And, don't give advice, even if solicited. Just take the time to listen. This post in my blook provides the rationale for "don't give advice." (prompted by Peter Block).

Why transferring knowledge through discussion is more effective than written documents

Nick Milton recently wrote a blog post recently explaining why transferring knowledge through discussion is 10 times more effective than written documents.

The maths as Nick himself confesses is a little finger in the air but it reminded me of a post in my blook Sharing Knowledge through Face-to-Face Conversation where I explain in a somewhat different way why conversation is so effective at transferring knowledge.

In a face-to-face conversation, you can offer information about the issue; you can probe deeper into the situation; you can gain a sense of what the other already knows and so determine at what level to construct your answer; you can ask about the meaning of a term you are not familiar with; you can seek the reasoning behind a conclusion if it's not evident and you can correct false assumptions.

The speaker and listener repeatedly swap places many times in a short period; the listener frequently interrupting the speaker and the roles changing. Both parties actively try to make sense of what the other is attempting to convey.

My post was based on some earlier work by Nancy Dixon Conversations That Share Tacit Knowledge

You can never merely do one thing

I just love this law - not just a law of ecology but of any complex system.
In 1963, the UC Santa Barbara ecologist and economist Garrett Hardin proposed his First Law of Ecology: “You can never merely do one thing.”

We operate in a world of multiple, overlapping connections, like a web, with many significant, yet obscure and unpredictable, relationships.

He developed second-order thinking into a tool, showing that if you don't consider “the effects of the effects,” you can't really claim to be doing any thinking at all.

In a complex system there are always unintended consequences.

Encourage dissent

FUD – fear uncertainty and doubt. No, not the marketing sort of FUD but the kind of stuff in your head whenever change takes place.

It is OK to fear and question things. Having doubts and reservations is OK. It is a natural part of the thinking, reflection and commitment process.

Every new endeavor starts this way. If it doesn't then, the chances are that something is wrong.

The last thing we should do is to stifle these thoughts. It is essential they are expressed openly. They should be actively solicited.

Coercing people to agree or to commit is one of the many destructive things we do to each other.

Expressing our true feelings is the start of a conversation that leads to ownership and responsibility, accountability and commitment.

Dissent should be encouraged. Dissent is healthy. Don't try to suppress it. “No” is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2019

Here are some of my more popular recent 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.

  • The Challenge of Conversations that Really Matter https://buff.ly/34ddxKv #ConversationalLeadership #ConversationalWisdom #conversation #dialogue

  • Why transferring knowledge through discussion is over 10 times more effective than written documents https://buff.ly/34hAIDG #KM #KMers #ConversationalLeadership #KnowledgeCafe

  • Humane leadership must be the Fourth Industrial Revolution's real innovation https://buff.ly/2W5VgOC #ConversationaLeadership #4IR

  • Think twice before giving advice – especially when it is sought. You would do better to listen, engage in conversation but avoid giving advice. https://buff.ly/2Odyyhw #ConversationalLeadership

  • W.H.O. launches new guidance on After Action Review to increase system learning https://buff.ly/2Oc0fav #KM #KnowledgeManagement #KMers #aar

  • Capabilities, Knowledge and Skills by Peter Sharp https://buff.ly/2CEnkgC #skills #education #21stCenturyLearning

  • We need to use conflict and disagreement as a way to deepen our relationships and expand our possibilities. @jgberger https://buff.ly/32NpoNI #complexity #ConversationalLeadership #KM

  • Everything you need to know about the Fourth Industrial Revolution https://buff.ly/2VWo88U

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.

16th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning 5-6 December 2019, Sydney, Australia
05 - 06 Dec 2019, Sydney, Australia

Henley Forum 20th Annual Conference
05 - 06 Feb 2020, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom

TAKE 2020 - Theory and Applications on the Knowledge Economy
01 - 03 Jul 2020, Sttutgart, Austria

7th European Conference on Social Media
02 - 03 Jul 2020, Larnaca, Cyprus

21st European Conference on Knowledge Management
03 - 04 Sep 2020, Coventry, United Kingdom

15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
17 - 18 Sep 2020, Rome, Italy

Please help support my work

I have been writing and publishing this Knowledge Letter every month for over 19 years and most of you have been receiving it for 5 years or more. My Knowledge Café also had its 17th birthday last September.

If you enjoy my work and find it valuable, please consider giving me a little support by donating $1 (or more) a month to Become a Patron or making small one off contribution.

I am not going to get rich on this but it will help cover some of my website hosting expenses.

I have over 50 patrons so far. A big thanks to you all.


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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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