Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 17 - 6th November 2001


First Published

November 2001


Sheila Moorcroft

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 the 17th Gurteen Knowledge-Letter. One of the things I love
about this newsletter is how it brings me in touch with people from all
over the world. In early October I ran a half-day workshop on the "Role of
Conversation in Knowledge Management" for Marcus Evans Conferences in
Sydney. So I mailed everyone on this newsletter who I had communicated
with in someway in Australia and suggested that we met up - which we did
one evening. We had a few drinks and went for a meal. It was fun to meet
people on the other side of the world whom I barely knew and to discover
so much in common. One Australian-based woman I learnt about was Stephanie
Burns who seems to have done some tremendous work in the field of
"learning to learn". I've yet to really check out her material but she has
a large following and her website is well worth a visit.

Stephanie Burns:

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

1 - Quotation: On Getting Ahead
2 - KM Principles - "You cannot conscript knowledge."
3 - Learning-to-Fly.org
4 - Yahoo! Groups
5 - International English & Search Engines
6 - The Sacred Act of Conversation
7 - Unipart Advanced Learning Systems
8 - Liberating the difference, or more of the same?
9 - Displaying Amazon Book Lists on your Website
10 - What's New
11 - KM Events

****************** QUOTATION: ON GETTING AHEAD ******************

You all know how much I love quotations. I must add five or six new ones
to my site each month and there are now over 250 of them. Here is a recent
addition by the actress Sophia Loren. If you think KM is a difficult
"profession" then you may find it quite apt :-)

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself.
You must be able to sustain yourself against staggering blows. There is no
code of conduct to help beginners. That is why some people with mediocre
talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with
vastly superior talent."

On Getting Ahead:

My favorite quotations:


It seems to me that there are a small number of principles that underlie
KM. Each month or as the mood takes me I intend to propose one in this
newsletter. I will also publish it in my KM Forum - so if you want to take
issue with it - or propose to tweak it you may!

The first is one that I have believed in a long time but recently heard
espoused by David Snowden of IBM - "You can't conscript knowledge". In
other words you cannot make people share their knowledge - they only do it
if they want to - if they feel motivated to do it and they see good reason
to do it - they see what is in it for them. They must volunteer it!


Knowledge Management:

********************** LEARNING-TO-FLY.ORG **********************

A few weeks back I published a brief review of a new book called Learning
to Fly by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcel (not to be confused with the
book of the same title by Victoria Beckham!). What I overlooked to say is
that they have a website and are using Yahoo! Groups to pull people
together to discuss their book and KM in general. Well worth a look.

For more details of the book and the website:

After Action reviews

KM Yahoo! Groups:

************************* YAHOO! GROUPS *************************

On the subject of Yahoo! Groups - how many of you are familiar with them?
A Yahoo! Group is quite simply an email address & website that allows a
group of people to:

+ share files, plan events, send newsletters
+ stay in touch - either business related or with friends and family
+ focus discussion on a subject - either a business one or sports, health,
current events ... whatever

In short it allows you to set up a online community.

The Learning-to-Fly Yahoo! Group is one such group set up for the purposes
of talking about the book and KM issues. I personally subscribe to four
different groups - see link below.

KM Related Yahoo Groups!:

Yahoo! Instant Messenger:



Have you noticed that although I am a Brit, I use "American" spelling?
Ever wondered why? Well do a search for "organization" and "organisation"
in any search engine. And then try again for the word "favorite" and
"favourite". Lets take Google!

Interesting! In the first case - the two words seem to be treated the same
to some extent judging by the first page of results but you still get 16
million hits with the American spelling and only 7 million with the
British version. But in the second case - you get a completely different
set of results on the first page and 2 million hits with the Brit. variant
and 10 million with the American. Its the same with most other search
engines I have experimented with.

So why do I use American spelling? Whether I like it or not -
International English is the dominant language of the web and this is more
American based than British as my little experiment above shows. Now I
want people to find stuff when they search my website - so I try to write
in International English. Over time - I think it will come to dominate
even in historically British areas of the world such as Australia.

Incidentally someone told me recently that at the start of this year for
the first time - the number of people who spoke English as their second
language outnumbered those who spoke it as their first!


A short list of other interesting search engines:

**************** THE SACRED ACT OF CONVERSATION ****************

As I said in my introduction - in early October, I run my first half-day
workshop on the "Role of Conversation in KM" for Marcus Evans Conferences
in Sydney. It was attended by about 50 people. Other speakers included
David Snowden of IBM and Bob Buckman of Buckman Labs. I felt it went well
and I have had a lot of good informal feedback from delegates via e-mail.
Here is one short quote from Ralph Meyen of Intology (Australia) who
incidentally has a very interesting product that automatically categorizes
documents based on the concepts found in text (

"... after reading your comments I'm reminded that the most sacred act of
human experience is the fact that we can actually consciously communicate
(talk & listen) with one another ... it was a pleasure to listen to you
and be reminded of this very sacred yet easily overlooked aspect of daily
existence ... "

Know How:

Dialogue & Conversation:


*************** UNIPART ADVANCED LEARNING SYSTEMS ***************

Last week I went up to Cowley, England to visit Unipart Advanced Learning
Systems. Why? Well as Frank Nigriello - Director of Group Communications -
described it - "Well David, we feel we know so much about you from your
newsletter and our values are so similar that we wanted to tell you
something about us!" We had a fun morning where they demoed some of their
products and told me lots of interesting stories about e-learning and KM.
I also had the opportunity to add my perspective. In short - a two way
flow of knowledge! Take a look at their site - they have some
interesting products and methodologies. But in particular take a look at
the e-learning product developed by some 8 year school children under
their guidance and supervision - it is so good!

Unipart Advanced Learning Systems:




by Sheila Moorcroft, Business Futures.

High streets and downtown areas all over Europe reflect the success of
globalization and international expansion: they are increasingly the same.
Too much information and not enough judgement appear to be resulting in a
world of formulaic repeats rather than creating choice and truly
satisfying customers. But, if as seems to be happening, customers begin to
turn away from standardized offers, will we see the emergence of real
choice and variety? Will this result in less central control and more
local initiative? Will information and knowledge be used to liberate
rather than control? Perhaps and one or two signs may be emerging.

+ A number of restaurant/café chains in the UK are facing difficulties as
market saturation and consumer indifference to bland and repetitive offers
turns them away. The response is the introduction of the 'anti-brand
brands' where variation and local control are the name of the game.

+ Starbucks coffee-shop chain now operates successfully in Tokyo -
contrary to the recommendations of research the company commissioned. The
research advised against investment because Japanese traditions about
eating in public and other cultural factors were considered too strong.
The company backed a hunch - and appears to be winning.

+ There are apparently over 400 varieties of cheese in the UK, not to
mention many different types of apples and other vegetables - most of
which never see the light of day in our supermarkets. As desire for more
'control' over the sourcing of food and a growth of regional identity
maybe we will also begin to see less of stranglehold of mainstream food

Business Futures:



Those have you who have visited my site recently will have noticed that it
is a little more colorful and a little bit more useful - thanks to a new
service provided by Amazon.com. Quite simply, what they offer a website
builder is the ability to include a panel on their own website showing a
list of books that match a selected keyword. Each time a page is displayed
- a different set of books that match the keyword are chosen at random and

Now my site is highly structured (its a Notes database) and all of my
pages are categorized in a number of ways. It did not take long for me to
release that with a little bit of dynamic coding (Notes is good at this) -
I could display a list of Amazon books relevant to each page of my site.
So if a page displayed is in the "philosophy" category then a list of
Philosophy books from Amazon is automatically displayed too. Cool!

Now the interesting bit. As I say my site is highly structured - think of
it as a highly programmable database! So how long did it take me to
incorporate this new feature on all my pages? About 30 minutes! It simply
required copying & pasting the Amazon HTML as a new "code" document into
my database and modifying one shared field to have the list appear
automatically on every appropriate page of the site.

This prompted me to want to add more interest and color to my site. So you
will now find on most pages along with the Amazon book listing - some
artwork (from Beth Macy and my daughter Lauren) as well as some links to
KM sites and other sites of interest such as Dilbert!

Anyway take a look and see what you think. The book lists especially are

How my site is built:

Lotus Notes/Domino:

Amazon.com Associates Program:

************************** WHAT'S NEW **************************

The content of my website is updated almost daily and rarely a month goes
by when its features and functionality are not added to or improved in
some way. A lot has been added this month ... in particular you will
notice a strong Australian theme with a number of new Australian resources
added. Also take a look at the new Country functionality that is under
development. All pages on the site, where appropriate are categorized by
the country with which they are associated. This means that the site can
be viewed from a country perspective. The country pages also link you to
several information sources such as the CIA World Factbook, Travel
Information from the US Department of Trade and Amazon travel books.

What's New:

KM Country Perspectives:

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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