Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 27 - 4th September 2002


First Published

September 2002


John Blackwell 

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.


I have been talking in recent months with John Blackwell who until
recently was the Principal of IBM's Knowledge and Content Management
practice in the UK. John has now formed his own consulting company focused
on "Flexible Working".

In our conversations, what has struck me is that if an organization
decides to adopt flexible working practices then almost by definition it
needs to adopt knowledge management.

People working from home, on the road, at a client site or in a airport
lounge need not only access to a powerful organizational community
intranet to provide them with their basic information needs but the
ability to connect them to their geographically dispersed colleagues.

They also need face to face meetings ... in short .... there is a need to
build a rich interconnected community to support them - both electronic
and social. If this is not about KM I don't know what is!

In this month's newsletter, I've included a short article by John on
"Flexible Working". Expect to see more on this subject ...

New Ways of Working:

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

1 - Flexible Working
2 - The Knowledge Café
3 - Klog-Community Update
4 - Global KM
5 - The price of anything
6 - Categories and Personal Development
7 - Personal KM workshop in Singapore
8 - The World Peace Orchestra
9 - Communities of Practice Conference
10 - On sharing ideas
11 - The 3rd European Conference on Knowledge Management
12 - Competitive Intelligence Symposium
13 - Gurteen Knowledge-Calendar

*********************** FLEXIBLE WORKING ***********************

By John Blackwell, John Blackwell Associates

In this brief article, I’d like to table some revealing research into
changes in today’s workplace and the huge potential offered by flexible
working -- not the hackneyed old "get them out of the office" idiom but a
truly systematic approach to creating a fitter, more agile, productive,
and responsive working environment.

Companies today are under increasing pressure to reduce infrastructure
costs while increasing organizational agility. Amazingly, with the
average London office space/ employee running at £18,500 per year, a
recent survey has shown that over 50% of assigned space and workstations
are unoccupied at any one time. Indeed, a major UK insurer recently
discovered 30% more desks/ workstations than employees!

At the same time, the workforce is changing! An internet and
communication savvy generation are entering today’s market with full
knowledge that the job-for-life culture is history. Equally, women -- the
traditional carers -- are entering full time employment at an
unprecedented rate, fuelling the cash-rich/ time-poor household. All of
which is causing a significant rethink of employee’s rights. How long can
the insistence on traditional office-centred cultures be sustained without
seriously damaging an employers ability to recruit and retain the best

Couple this with the cataclysmic, spiralling increases in congestion --
presently estimated to cost the UK workforce a staggering £87.5B per
annum, is it surprising that governments and lawmakers are intensifying
their focus on work-life balance, social/ demographic exclusion issues,
and environmental issues. How much longer can we sustain the massive
increase in inner-city congestion?

Forward-looking organizations are using these economic pressures to launch
coordinated efforts toward fitter, more agile and more responsive working
environments. This involves rethinking the very nature of work -- as seen
through employees’ eyes -- all in the name of creating cost -- and
process-efficient flexible-workplaces. While technology support is, of
course, part of this endeavor, thorough workplace transformation requires
amending business processes and managing change throughout the corporate

What’s abundantly clear is, that to efficiently harness this vast array of
capabilities, companies must adopt a systematic, methodological approach
to flexible working to reap it’s full benefits and productivity gains on

Two links from the BBC News of late last week:

Traffic levels on the rise:

UK working hours rise sharply:

John Blackwell:

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

I have had a great response to the idea of my knowledge cafe meetings with
over 30 people expressing interest and 15 of us planning to meet this
Thursday in central London. People's profiles can be viewed on my website.

If you are interested in future meetings just drop me an e-mail but it
looks like I am going to have to find a larger venue.

Knowledge Café:

People profiles:

********************* KLOG-COMMUNITY UPDATE *********************

If you are interested in klogging on KM, I am still looking for additional
people to join my Klog-Community. I have about twenty members at present.

Take a look - there are some really interesting thoughts, ideas and
insights being blogged and I'm learning from the community every day.

And while you are there click through to Ray Ozzie's (designer of Lotus
Notes and Groove) weblog - no he's not a member of my group but he is a
new convert to blogging and has some very insightful views. One posting in
particular helps to discern the difference between weblogs and discussion

Gurteen Knowledge-Log:

Ray Ozzie's Weblog:

*************************** GLOBAL KM ***************************

One of the visitors to my website recently suggested I produced a map of
the world that showed the distribution of my 6,000 or so readers. Great

So I have updated my website to add a page for almost the full world
complement of countries (240 or so) and written an agent that scans my
knowledge-letter database and updates the numbers in these country pages.

The next step is to represent this graphically. Does anyone know of any
software that might help me do this?

But the exercise prompted me to think about updating the content of my
website to include more about what's going on in KM around the world as it
is always good to have different perspectives

Take a look at my site and see if your country is in my list. If it isn't
- its not that I have not included it - its just that I have so few
readers and so few resources (often none) from that country that I have
not included it in the main country list. Drop me an e-mail and let me
know what is going on ... and I will update my site and include your
country in the main list.

Global KM:

********************* THE PRICE OF ANYTHING *********************

As many of you will know, one of my favorite authors is Henry David
Thoreau. You will find several quotations of his on my website including a
new one that I particularly love sent to me recently by Tim Page in
Northern Ireland.

"The price of anything is the amount of life you pay for it."

That's worth stopping and reflecting on for a few minutes :-)

On the price of anything:

Henry David Thoreau:

************** CATEGORIES AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT **************

If you are familiar with my website you will know that all the pages (over
2,000) are categorized into almost 90 different categories ranging from
Knowledge Management (303 pages) to Spirituality (50 pages).

Have a look at my site - at the top of each page is a category menu that
will take you directly to any one of the categories. You will find a huge
amount of material online - Personal Development for example contains over
90 pages - books, links, people, quotations and stories.


Personal Development:

*************** PERSONAL KM WORKSHOP IN SINGAPORE ***************

Well it looks as if I am all set to run a 1-day workshop on Personal
Knowledge Management (PKM) in Singapore for Eventus on 18th September.

I've run a similar workshop a number of time is the past with great
success but this will be the first in which there will be a new module -
that of "Personal Knowledge Publishing" or maybe "Tacit Knowledge
Publishing" (thank you Matt Mower) - in other words knowledge-logs or

If you are based in Singapore or the region and are interested in
attending - contact Eventus. They are giving a 15 percent discount to my
knowledge-letter readers.

Personal KM workshop in Singapore:

******************* THE WORLD PEACE ORCHESTRA *******************

At the Henley Knowledge Management Forum annual conference in June 2002,
that I attended, Professor Paul Robertson, Leader of the Medici String
Quartet, illustrated the power of music in bringing new channels for
dialogue between parties in conflict.

He showed a video of young musicians from different ethnic and religious
backgrounds risking their lives to play together in war-torn Sarajevo at
the height of the recent hostilities in the Balkans.

This initiative, started by the deans of several music academies from
across the Balkan states and supported by the Medici Quartet, culminated
in the creation of the World Peace Orchestra, which has recently been
invited to perform at the next World Economic Forum in Salzburg.

The Orchestra urgently needs to raise €50,000 to support its activities.
If you would like to learn more see :


Henley Knowledge Management Forum:

************** COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE CONFERENCE **************

If you are based in the US then on the 23rd - 25th September, IIR are
running a Communities of Practice Conference in Boston. If I was not quite
so busy I would attend myself - I used to work in Boston and so have a
fondness for the city.

It looks set to be a good conference with speakers such as Richard
McDermott, Nancy M. Dixon and Michael Burtha.

There is also a 15 percent discount to readers of my knowledge-letter.

Next Steps in Communities of Practice:

*********************** ON SHARING IDEAS ***********************

One of the objections I often hear to sharing knowledge is the "fear that
someone else will pick up on your ideas and work them out before you do. "

I have always had a problem with this viewpoint because the one thing you
can almost guarantee is that someone out there in the world, if not dozens
or hundreds of others will have had a similar idea and be working on it.

They may also be brighter than you and more advanced in their thinking
than you and have more time to develop the idea. So why not seek them out
and collaborate with them!

But like all good ideas - even this one is not unique - I have just
discovered Phil Wainewright in his Loosely Coupled weblog advocating
exactly the same mindset and putting it far better than I might.

Read the full posting and think about it. We all have ideas that would be
better shared than hoarded! Here is a little of what Phil had to say ...

I think this highlights one important aspect of a highly networked world
that we are all going to have to get used to. There are very few genuinely
original ideas in the world. Someone, somewhere has inevitably already
come up with the same idea. By pooling your thoughts with theirs, both of
you will likely progress them further than you could have done
individually (or maybe someone else watching the exchange will have a new
insight that takes the idea further than the pair of you). The more open
the network, the more everyone can feed off each other's ideas. The less
open it is, the more slowly everyone progresses.

So which is better? I think the answer is that, in an extensive open
network, the one thing you can be sure of is that someone else already has
the same idea as you. If you deny that fact, you relegate yourself to
coming in behind them. If you accept it and embrace the network, you have
a chance of participating in their success. (I have a feeling this has
been said better by someone at Microsoft, but I can't recall the reference
just now. Perhaps someone reading this will be able to refresh my memory).

On the fear ...


Another conference I wish I was attending - this looks like being a great
conference at Trinity College in Dublin in late September with a
tremendous number of speakers from around the globe - take a look at the
comprehensive timetable on my website.

ECKM 2002:

************** COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE SYMPOSIUM **************

Coming up in late October in Amsterdam is the Competia European Symposium
2002: Competitive Intelligence at Its Best. This symposium brings
together some of the leading-edge practitioners in the field of
Competitive and Strategic Intelligence and should prove a great forum to
network and learn from the top experts within a variety of industries.
Highlights include:

How an accurate cost curve can help you win your next bid (Akzo Nobel),
Where to find Research and Development information (Nestle),
Case study: how to be effective as a CI Unit (Aventis),
Annual Reports: Learn to read between the lines (Sony).
Workshops on the last day: Searching the Invisible Web and Use
Simulations to see the competitive landscape.

Competia European Symposium 2002:

Copyright 2002, David Gurteen, All rights reserved.

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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