Blog Post

Going off topic in a Knowledge Cafe

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 11 November 2011



Going off topic in a Knowledge Cafe
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 137
Posted DateFriday 11 November 2011 22:26 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
CategoriesKnowledge Cafe; Conversation

A few weeks back, I helped someone writing an article on my Knowledge Cafes by answering questions by email.

This was one of the questions: You say: "The question is only a seed. It's okay to go off topic. "Doesn't that bring the danger of dissipation of the conversation? Or causing problems after the participants have changed the tables?

This was my answer:

The Knowledge Cafe is not about trying to control people and what they say or talk about. Its about treating them as adults.

Conversations go off topic in everyday life - all of the time. That's the intrinsic nature of conversation, If you try to control conversation - you destroy it. If the topic is important to the participants and the right one - they will quickly return to it.

It also allows issues to emerge that were not anticipated. This is at the heart of what the Cafe is all about. You need the freedom to explore stuff. And you need the freedom for people to relax and tell personal stories and share anecdotes.

Rather then dissipate the conversation - it keeps it natural and enlivens it,

And there is not a problem when people change tables ... the sidetrack either dies or if it is important it is built upon

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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