Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 14 - 23rd July 2001


First Published

July 2001

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.


Knowledge Management should be as much about creating the future as
learning from the past. As individuals and organizations we need to
increase our understanding of the future and make the most of the
opportunities it will bring while constructively dealing with the
uncertainties and ambiguities it presents.

With these thoughts in mind, I have updated the "Future" category on
my website and will be adding documents to the site under this new
title. It will focus on trends and events in the emerging knowledge

Sheila Moorcroft, a respected 'business futures' consultant has also
agreed to write a regular item for this newsletter - identifying
tidbits of news from the world that may affect the knowledge
economy. Her first item is included in this month's newsletter. I
hope you find the additions thought provoking!

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

1 - The death of loyalty? By Sheila Moorcroft
2 - Knowledge Management in South Africa
3 - South African KM Sites
4 - AAR & Dialogue Workshop
5 - Who remembers 1-2-3/G?
6 - Is E-Mail Gossip a Waste of Time?
7 - The ClueTrain Manifesto
8 - Knowledge Work and the Global Economy
9 - Events


Let me start with a caveat! This will not be a prediction corner,
nor a 'Mystic Meg' (an astrologer in the UK who claims to be able to
see the lottery winner each week!) crystal ball gazing session. We
cannot and do not know the future. As an arts graduate, I often
liken thinking about the future and identifying trends to looking for
symbols in literature: I ‘read’ the business environment. Events
become indicators of potential change and combinations of events
become possible trends. It is about interpreting and pattern
matching, making connections, asking 'what if?', being curious and
also being willing to be wrong! I hope that you will find the items
and ideas interesting, useful and stimulating. Please let me know
either way.

The death of loyalty?

Layoffs are back in force. It seems that hardly a day goes by when a
high-tech company, dot.com or other new economy provider is not
announcing layoffs. Whatever happened to the war for talent? The need
to find and retain key skills and workers? The idea that people are
our greatest asset? They seem to have disappeared like a mirage in
the desert. Old economy rules and ways seem to be returning with a

This current round of layoffs is part of what are regarded as
essential cost cutting measures. However, the real, and much higher
cost may lie in the future: the death of loyalty and willingness to
commit. Loyalty and commitment are perhaps the greatest motivators
and energisers. Lose those and companies often lose the magic
ingredient that can make all the difference between success and
failure. But, that is what companies may be putting at risk.

Employees increasingly decide about prospective employers not only on
the basis of the package on offer. The company’s track record on any
number of issues is increasingly a deciding factor - those companies
which find alternatives to straight-forward, 'old economy' layoffs
may lose out on profits in the short term, but win in terms of
retaining those not so intangible assets - people not to mention
their knowledge and loyalty.

Business Futures:

************* KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA *************

One of the personal benefits of this newsletter is that it has
expanded my network globally and I have made friends with like-minded
people around the world. I think of this knowledge-letter as global
though clearly much of the content is UK centric. Of a total of about
4,000 people who receive it - almost 1,000 live outside the UK.

One person I recently met in cyberspace is Bob Andrew - a consultant
in South Africa. Here are a few words of his from a recent e-mail to
me but follow the link through to a fascinating article of his -
"Opportunity by Knowledge Sharing is the Key to South African
Economic Development".

"The KM field in South Africa is dominated by the technologists and
sometimes I think I am a lone voice in trying to emphasize the
importance of creating the right human environment. Everyone agrees
that we should be looking at this aspect but when someone does
something positive about it, like arranging seminars and courses,
etc, the interest seems to evaporate.

My view regarding this is that there is so much money in the IT side
that everyone is trying to get a slice of the action. I continually
tell the IT people that they are missing great opportunities as I
think there is so much more to do with the IT if one sees it as an
enabler for people relating with one another and creating new
opportunities. For South Africa, in particular, knowledge sharing
across cultural boundaries holds tremendous promise and could be the
catalyst for transformation and economic development."

Article by Bob Andrew:

******************** SOUTH AFRICAN KM SITES ********************

Continuing with the South African theme - here are links to two
interesting South African KM sites. The first is a new KM site set up
by the Department of Communications and the second is to the The
Knowledge Management Society of Southern Africa (KMSSA).

Knowledge Management Development Intiative:

The Knowledge Management Society of Southern Africa (KMSSA):

******************** AAR & DIALOGUE WORKSHOP ********************

As many of you are aware, a central part of my focus is on the
importance of "After Action Reviews" and of "Dialogue" in knowledge
driven organizations. In other words about taking the time to talk
about, reflect and to learn from business events. It seems to me that
quality 'conversation' - 'listening to learn' and 'telling the truth'
are at the heart of effectively sharing tacit knowledge.

Many of you seem to share a similar interest as when registering for
this newsletter you have checked the AAR and Dialogue interest boxes.
The AAR and Dialogue sections on my website are also amongst the more

Consequently, I am considering running a 1 day public workshop on the
subject of AARs and Dialogue in the autumn in central London. To help
me assess interest and better understand what people might be looking
for - if you would be interested in such a workshop please drop me an

After Action Reviews:


******************** WHO REMEMBERS 1-2-3/G? ********************

Do you remember 1-2-3/G? It was the version of 1-2-3 for OS/2. It was
a great spreadsheet. But where is it today? When Microsoft shipped
Windows 3.0 back in 1990 - it was an instant hit. Excel for Windows
followed hot on its heals. But it took 18 months or so before Lotus
Development shipped 1-2-3 for Windows conceding a huge lead to
Microsoft. It was the beginning of the end. I guess Lotus would have
always lost the desktop wars given Microsoft's marketing muscle but
it would have taken longer.

The point of this story is that the new product development (NPD)
process, from concept through launch, is complex, with numerous
potential pitfalls - not least of all developing the right product
and doing the product right. New products are usually only successful
if they are developed to a well defined development methodology and
if each stage in that process is strictly followed. In Lotus's case
the product was a good one - the operating platform was wrong. The
consequence disastrous!

Common causes of new product failure include inadequate market
analysis, poor internal communication, weak product definition, and
poor competitive analysis. These weaknesses, in turn, can lead to a
mismatch with customer expectations, technical or production
problems, defects in the product, higher than anticipated costs, or a
mistimed market launch. In short, a failure to adequately manage
organizational knowledge.

Software to support the NPD process can help improve the odds of
success by enabling you to do the right projects, right! Back in
1991, there were few, if any, such products to help Lotus
Development. Even Lotus Notes that has been used extensively to build
applications to support NPD (I should know, I have built several for
clients myself.) was still in its infancy. But today there are a
number of software products that support the NPD process -
transforming it from a paper-based one to an electronic one.

Such products can help dramatically improve communication,
cooperation and coordination among people and departments, by better
capturing knowledge and information and sharing it with the people
who need it throughout the product development life cycle. They also
help streamline the NPD process and ensures its rigor.

One such product that I came across recently is Sopheon’s Accolade.
Sopheon claim that Accolade can improve process efficiencies by
15-30% and reduce wasted NPD costs from 46% to 20%.

Take a look at the Sopheon website and better understand how these
sort of knowledge-management products can help you.


*************** IS E-MAIL GOSSIP A WASTE OF TIME? ***************

In last month's knowledge-letter, I mentioned I had read in PC
Magazine that according to the research firm Gartner - up to 30% of
employee's time is wasted handling unproductive e-mails such as
gossip, jokes and more and that it was interesting to note that
e-mail is the one technology we have very readily adopted as
knowledge workers but may actually decrease our productivity rather
than enhance it! Well here is an interesting response I received.

Dear David,

Re your commentary, what makes you think that emails carrying gossip
and jokes are 'unproductive'? For example, I use such emails as part
of my company's informal marketing activity. Similarly, employees
use them as part of the social glue that binds together informal
networks - the fundamental infrastructure for real, productive
knowledge management in all organizations. The corporate emails that
REALLY waste time are the thoughtless, just-in-case 'CCs' of
apparently 'productive' emails. Be wary of conventional wisdom!

Andy Knott

Hedron Consulting Limited

Having briefly exchanged e-mail with Andy, I think we are agreed -
its a question of balance. No chitchat would lead to a boring sterile
environment - too much to a laid back ineffective culture. But where
is the right balance and how do you recognize it when you see it? If
you would like to discuss this question - please click through to my
KM discussion forum below.

Gurteen KM Forum:

******************** THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO ********************

Some of you will remember my review of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" in
my second knowledge-letter just over a year ago.

The book spells out, in a provocative way, the death of marketing as
we know it. The authors believe that due to conversations being held
on the Web through e-mail and chat rooms, that employees and
customers are undermining the traditional command-and-control
hierarchy of corporate marketing. The authors see markets as
"conversations," and feel that these conversations are "getting
smarter and faster than most companies."

Well, I have been reading the book again and its sinking in deeper
the second time around. Whether you are a marketeer or not I'd highly
recommend the book. If you want a taste follow the links but do take
a look at the two short stories from the book that I have posted in
my new stories section of my website - they are absolute gems.

The ClueTrain Manifesto:


************* KNOWLEDGE WORK AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY *************

I run a one-day seminar for knowledge workers. As part of the
introduction I talk through some of the changes going on in the
knowledge-economy. If you are my age, you will have seen the decline
of manufacturing industry in the UK. It has moved to the developing
nations of the world. And in more recent years we have seen a similar
shift of information based organizations and functions such as the
migration of call centers to India.

But we are now starting to witness the move of knowledge based work.
And its not just that the work is moving. In an increasingly
deregulated global economy - the knowledge workers are moving too!
Especially from the developing world to the developed world - where
declining birth rates are creating a shortage of skilled knowledge

We need to remember that we potentially compete with everyone else
in the world who can do our job. The statistics are revealing. In the
UK, the population is 58 million or so, China 1.2 billion and India
900 million. The Philippines graduate 70,000 engineers and 100,000
computer scientists each year. 30 to 50 million Indians can read and
write English and deliver clerical services.

So as knowledge workers, where ever we reside in the world, we each
need to ask ourselves if our job is ultimately in danger. If we were
to be made redundant in 5, 10 or even 20 years time - how easy would
it be for us to find another job? If we are worried then we need to
commit ourselves to a continuous learning program to ensure that
there is always a local demand for our skills. It is our only

Here are two recent stories from silicon.com that underscore the
trends. The first is about British Airways plans to bring Indian IT
staff to the UK and the second about the fact that Europe faces a
potential shortage of 1.7 million hi-tech workers by 2003.



**************************** EVENTS ****************************

Here is s short list of some of the more interesting KM related
events coming up in the next 6 months or so:

Full list of KM related events:

Blended eLearning: Designing Collaborative eLearning to Accelerate
Knowledge Transfer, Maximize Business Performance and Drive Profits
06 - 07 Aug 2001, Chicago IL, US

People Potential Series I
10 - 14 Sep 2001, London, UK

Next-Generation Knowledge Management: Enabling Business Processes
10 - 11 Sep 2001, Houston TX, US

The Effective Knowledge Worker I
11 Sep 2001, London, UK

The O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference
17 - 20 Sep 2001, Washington DC, US

Knowledge, People and Power (Montreal)
19 - 21 Sep 2001, Montreal, Canada

Richmond Group Conference 2001
06 Oct 2001, Denham Uxbridge, UK

The World Open Learning Conference and Exhibition (wolce 2001)
10 - 11 Oct 2001, Birmingham, UK

2nd World Knowledge Forum
17 - 19 Oct 2001, Seoul, South Korea

The 2nd European Conference on Knowledge Management
08 - 09 Nov 2001, Bled, Slovenia

People Potential Series II
19 - 22 Nov 2001, London, UK

The Effective Knowledge Worker II
20 Nov 2001, London, UK

KM Europe 2001
27 - 29 Nov 2001, Den Haag, Netherlands

Knowledge, People and Power (London)
28 - 30 Nov 2001, London, UK

KM Project Management: Utilizing Project Management Techniques,
Strategies and Principles for Implementing Knowledge Management
29 - 30 Nov 2001, Washington DC, US

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***************** THE GURTEEN KNOWLEDGE-LETTER *****************

The Gurteen Knowledge-Letter is a free monthly e-mail based
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.

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 the following copyright notice is included
intact: "Copyright 2001, David Gurteen, All rights reserved."

David Gurteen
Gurteen Associates
Fleet, United Kingdom

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café 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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