Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 36 - 6th June 2003


First Published

June 2003

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.

Wow the 36th knowledge-letter! Have I really been writing this for 3
years! The first issue was published on 30th May 2000 and went out to
about 300 friends and colleagues in the UK and US compared to today
with over 8,000 people in 115 countries. All the back issues are
online. Take a look at my "smorgasbord" concept in the first issue -
I hope that philosophy is still working.

Only 10 days to my conference - if you have not done so yet - take a
look and if you like what you see you can sign up on-line :-)

What ever you decide - take a look at the bio of one of the key
speakers - Chris Collison of Centrica and the book he coauthored with
Geoff Parcel when they were at BP called "Learning to Fly". One of
the most practically oriented KM books around in my opinion.

Gurteen Knowledge Conference:

Knowledge-Letter Archive:

Chris Collison:

*************************** CONTENTS ***************************

1 - Ambuiguity is good
2 - Knowledge Management in Education
3 - The Knowledge Café
4 - On sad words of tongue and pen
5 - We Need to Talk. More.
6 - Shell Global Scenarios to 2020
7 - Intranet Whitepapers
8 - Space: the new frontier
9 - People are people - not things!
10 - The ELearnChina Conference 2003
11 - Knowledge-Raffle
12 - Gurteen Knowledge-Calendar
13 - What's New?

********************** AMBUIGUITY IS GOOD **********************

I am always drawn to paradoxes. Take a look at this short
conversation between Esther Dyson and David Weinberger in her Release
4.0 weblog


David believes that ambiguity is good and that explicitness is an act
of violence - that explicitness reduces and destroys things.

Unfortunately the details of Dave's views are lacking in the
transcript. But I think he is on to something. Eliminating ambiguity
and making knowledge explicit can destroy the richness of that
knowledge. "Black and white" and "right and wrong" thinking are over
simplifications of reality and reduce our potential for creativity.

So just a few fragmentary thoughts to dwell on. I'll update you when
I find more of Dave's thinking on the subject.

If you are not familiar with David Weinberger watch this very
entertaining video clip:


David Weinberger:

The ClueTrain Manifesto

Esther Dyson:

*************** KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EDUCATION ***************

While KM has gained widespread acceptance in the business community,
KM practices are now beginning to find support in the field of
education. The report, Knowledge Management in Education: Defining
the Landscape, discusses where the knowledge management movement
fits in the drive for greater accountability in education and
identifies the challenges facing many institutions and schools.


********************** THE KNOWLEDGE CAFÉ **********************

The next knowledge-café will not be a café at all but a
knowledge-barbecue. I wonder if this is a first? !!

It is being hosted by the University of Greenwich Business School on
the Old Royal Naval College Campus, Greenwich.

If you are based in or around London - let me know if you would like
to join the knowledge-café.

Knowledge Café home page:

Next Knowledge Cafe - Wednesday 25 June 2003

**************** ON SAD WORDS OF TONGUE AND PEN ****************

If you have a few minutes to spare take a look at the Visitor Book on
my website. I check it pretty much everyday and just love some of the
comments and feedback that I receive from people.

Here is a recent item from Chris in Louisiana:

I have often wondered about the things that you are talking about. I
do believe that our potential is far greater than our actuality. I
want to know more about how to get at that potential. Out of
suffering and pain sometimes comes a new way of looking at things. I
would like to think that I have changed due to trials and
tribulations, but I know that I neither go as far as I should nor do
I learn as much as I should.

I am interested in numbers. Analytics make more sense to me now than
they did when I was younger; however, much is lost when one focuses
on numbers alone. I don't know the name of the poem. I hope you do
and you could send it to me, but it ends with the line that "of all
the words, the saddest are, 'It might have been.'"

My regrets run much more to what I failed to try, not what I actually
tried. I have sadness about what I should have attempted because, in
many cases, there was no reason not to. What would I have been had I
had more confidence in myself? Looking back on many things, I
realize that I talked myself out of trying so many times. I want to
try more.

I am fifty-five years old. Closer certainly to the end of my career,
not the beginning; however, I know I have much more to contribute. I
am going to do it. I work in a public school system. God knows we
need hope and change. There seems to be a depression of the spirit
amongst us. If we realized the value of our jobs and what our task
is, we would have to be so ready to change.

Thank you for the opportunity to write this down, and thanks for the


There is so much in that little note that resonates with me. I hope
it does with you too :-)

And oh yes I found Chris's quotation for him:

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those 'It might
have been.'" John Greenleaf Whittier

Visitors Book:

On sad words of tongue and pen:

******************** WE NEED TO TALK. MORE. ********************

By Niclas Ljungberg

In these tough economic times, it feels appropriate to spread a few
of the sunshine stories that are out there. In my own case, I am very
pleased that the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe, set up to have interesting
conversations, keeps having positive spin-offs for the participants.

David has already mentioned Inergy in a previous newsletter, an
ideas-innovation-intellectual capital consultancy. Inergy was founded
by myself and Malcolm Allan as a result of our meeting at a Knowledge
Cafe last year and having an interesting conversation, and then
another one and then another. We are now building our business,
enabling companies to better understand what intangible assets they
have actually got and how to make better use of them, create new ones
through innovation and commercial creativity, or sell it to someone
who needs it better.

The next thing to come out of the interactions (some over coffee,
some over the following beers), was the ICN - the Intellectual
Capital Network. This was set up a couple of months ago by myself and
Chris Reddish and already has 30 members. The ICN will be working to
promote and demystify the concepts around IC and its applications,
and share knowledge around practical tools and models. We meet and
have (you guessed it) focused conversations around these subjects
about every two months.

So conversations seem to work!

Who should you be having a conversation with?



**************** SHELL GLOBAL SCENARIOS TO 2020 ****************

Shell recently released a summary of their global scenarios to 2020,
called People and Connections. The scenarios consider how
globalization provokes - and is shaped by - reactions from people
with diverse perspectives and motivations, including powerful and
enduring cultural values.

Shell contends that greater interconnectedness has fundamentally
altered the dynamics of human society - providing individuals with
many more ways of expressing their values and of joining with others
to pursue interests.

Against this background, the scenarios address the questions "Which
networks will be the most influential? Which values the most
powerful? How will they shape our world?"

A pdf of the book can be downloaded from:

Arie de Geus:

********************* INTRANET WHITEPAPERS *********************

More whitepapers from James Robertson of Step Two Designs in

* Roles needed in an intranet team
A multi-disciplinary approach is needed when establishing an intranet
team. This briefing outlines the key roles required.

* The importance of CMS usability
The success of a CMS depends it being used, and whether authors
create content. It these two challenges makes the usability of the
CMS critically important.

Also see James Robertson's weblog:

******************** SPACE: THE NEW FRONTIER ********************

By Sheila Moorcroft, Business Futures

But not the stuff up in the heavens. The new world - 30 spaces for
the 21st century is a very interesting article in Wired - June 2003
issue about new definitions of space. Being Wired there are
interesting and stimulating graphics to go with the many of the short
descriptions and while I do not agree with all their conclusions, I
do agree with the underlying principles and most of the topic areas.
The important thing is making us stop and think and see things in new

Some items look at economic indicators / market indicators in new
ways - making them more accessible. One highlights population growth
/ decline in an hour per city showing that Dakar grows by 67 in hour
and Delhi by 48; another, a global map showing a world fragmented
according to GDP per capita shows the likely movement of each area
towards the 'inner circle' of OECD levels of wealth by 2012.

Others create new types of space looking at critical areas of change.
Relationship space looking at personal inter-connection; voice space
where walls and buildings talk to us; research space highlighting the
way in which science, research and experiments have moved out of the
lab into the world; blog space seeing the web as organised around
minds not documents; and DNA space looking at 'traffic in genomic

I can only suggest you look for yourselves.


Sheila Moorcroft

**************** PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE - NOT THINGS! ****************

I posted an item on my weblog recently. Here is the gist of it ....

Lets change the way we talk about "people"! Lets change the following:

+ "Managing human resources" to "Managing people" or even to "Working
with people".

+ "Attracting, retaining and developing talent: a strategy for
increasing human capital" to "Attracting, retaining and developing
people: a strategy for helping people to develop themselves"

+ "Return on investment on human capital" to "Helping people to be
their best."

The idea is simple:

Lets STOP thinking of people as resource, or talent or capital but
quite simply as people!

And lets stop talking about manipulating people but about working
effectively with each other and helping and supporting each other.

And of course lets not just change the language but lets change our
behaviors too!

I concluded by saying that try as I might I could not think of a
better name for the most hated term of all "Human Resources"!

I had a few interesting replies - the best suggestion was quite
simply "Employee Services" Not very exciting but descriptive and
jargon free!

People are people - not things!

Gurteen Weblog:

**************** THE ELEARNCHINA CONFERENCE 2003 ****************

I mentioned the ELearnChina Conference 2003 in last month. Its to be
held on 21 - 23 July In Edinburgh.

It is designed to bring commercial and educational organizations,
academics and businesses together from across the globe to discuss
the complexities facing e-Learning and education in China.

If you are interested in attending then the organizers have offered a
discount price of £500 to readers of my newsletter for this 3-day

The ELearnChina Conference 2003:


*********************** KNOWLEDGE-RAFFLE ***********************

Mark Willcocks of Thames Water won the recent raffle for the book
"The New Knowledge Management by Mark McElroy.

The current raffle item is the book "Leveraging Communities of
Practice for Strategic Advantage" by Hubert Saint-Onge and Debra


Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage:

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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