Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 112 - October 2009


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.

Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 112 - October 2009


  1 Introduction to the October 2009 Knowledge Letter
  2 On changing people's behaviour
  3 Conversations at Starbucks: Say hello to a stranger
  4 On best practice and thinking for yourself!
  5 Name Tags: Hello my name is David
  6 Speed Hugging
  7 KM Event Highlights
  8 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  9 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the October 2009 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

Yet again I am writing this knowledge letter from a hotel. I have just spent a few days in Cape Town and am now in Joburg for the ICKE 2009 conference. I have also been running more Knowledge Cafe masterclasses that get better and better. There seems to be a huge pent up desire by people to see more conversation in the workplace in a variety of forms.

I ran a Knowledge Cafe at a Peninsula Toastmasters evening in Cape Town. I had often suspected that Toastmasters were rather stuffy affairs but far from it ... I met a great bunch of people; heard some inspiring talks and all in all had a tremendous evening.

Earlier this week, I was delighted to receive a Google Wave invite and to find a small nascent KM community on Wave. I don't have any spare invites. (Google give you 8 additional invites to share with friends if they invite you.) but if you are already using Google Wave then do send me a wave to say hello and I will connect you to the other KMers. My address is [email protected]

On changing people's behaviour    (top | next | prev)

A little while back I blogged about the idea that we would do better not to focus on idealistic solutions but to focus on the small, pragmatic things that we could do on a day-to-day basis to move ourselves forward. I drew on comments by Dave Snowden, Stephen Billing and John Dewey.

Well now Johnnie Moore has blogged along similar lines see Behaviour change revisited. His post reminds me of a quote from Alfie Kohn that I oft use in my talks and workshops "An innovative, healthy organization requires that we work with people rather than do things to them."

Conversations at Starbucks: Say hello to a stranger     (top | next | prev)

I often work in a coffee shop. More often than not a Starbucks. For some tasks, I need peace and quiet, in which case I switch my phone off, drop my internet connection and focus on the job in hand. But for many tasks I find the background noise and the coming and going of a coffee shop or hotel lobby more conducive to say creative thinking. The distractions paradoxically help my thinking process.

And in public places I also get the opportunity to meet people; occasional people I know but more often complete strangers. I like to talk and have developed a few techniques to start conversations with strangers. Asking a parent about a child is always a great conversation starter or something as mundane as commenting on the weather. And its always easy talking with service people such as receptionists, waiters or maids.

But it always strikes me how hard it is for many people (including myself at times) to talk with strangers at conferences or lectures especially when the organisers have given no thought to helping facilitate networking and conversations.

I have spoken about this topic many times in the past, see my comments on name badges, stammtisch tables and Theodore Zeldin's recent Feast of Strangers .

In this article on Starbucks: Whats true cost of a Starbucks latte, Bryant Simon laments about the lack of conversation and community. If he owned a coffee shop it would have a big, round table strewn with newspapers to stimulate discussion.

The article concludes with Bryant saying "People want these conversations, people want to feel connected," he said. "I'm pretty sure about that." I am pretty sure about it too! What do you think?

On best practice and thinking for yourself!    (top | next | prev)

Dave Snowden frequently criticises the concept of best practice such as here in this article and in an article in Harvard Business Blog, Susan Cramm questions it too.

Steve Billing in his blog recently added weight to what David has to say. He comments that best practice" ignores the most important factor – the people who are working with the practice or model". He adds that "best practice and its forebear benchmarking both divert attention from the people and the context, focusing entirely on the disembodied prescription or model, as though it can be implemented anywhere and get the same successful result".

I am often asked for best practices in KM though what I discern is that what people really want is a prescription - a recipe they can blindly follow. But as I am so fond of saying "there is no substitute for thinking for yourself!" - in the complex real world of KM - there are no best practices; there are no simple recipes!

Steve says this "Instead of looking at best practice, focus your attention on the particularities of your situation, trying to understand all the factors at work, not just those prescribed in your model or best practice. Reflect on how your own participation is affecting, and is affected by, the way these factors are playing out in your organisation. That way you can help to make sure your attention is on what really matters so much more than a best practice or model – how you are others are interacting with each other and influencing each other in the process of getting the work done."

In other words "think for yourself!"

Name Tags: Hello my name is David    (top | next | prev)

After a conference, have you ever left your name tag on by mistake and had complete strangers say hello to you.This happened to Scott Ginsberg some years ago and he decided to keep his name tag on. He has been wearing a name tag now 24x7 for over ten years and turned it into his trademark.

I wore a name badge once at a talk by Theodore Zeldin at the Tate Modern in London. It was a public event and I wore the badge so other people who were attending whom I had invited but never met would recognise me. I was the only one there with a badge and was surprised at the number of strangers who said hello and started up conversations with me. So I can emphasise with Luke's experiences.

I love it in hotels, restaurants, conferences etc when people where name tags so I can address them by name. Its just so much more friendly and makes it easier to strike up a conversation. One criticism I have of many conference organisers is that the persons name is in very small print so you cannot read it, or the badge is covered with marketing logos so the name gets lost or those name tags you hang around your neck that always twist away from you so once again you cannot read the name. The best name tags contain the name only as BIG as possible and with the given name larger and in bold compared wit the family name!!

As I love to network and talk to strange, I like the idea of always wearing a name tag much of the time though I am not so sure about 24 x 7. Do I have the courage? LOL! I am not too sure. Do you?

Speed Hugging    (top | next | prev)

Many of you will be familiar with the speed networking sessions I hold at the start of my knowledge cafes and workshops. Its a great way of breaking the ice and getting people talking and engaging with each other.

But what about Speed Hugging!!

I often hug people rather than shake hands though usually only when I know them and more often with women than men. The Speed Hugging post by Steve Pavlina has prompted me to hug more. Its not that difficult even with strangers and like Steve suggests if in doubt I ask first.

I also need to achieve some balance and give hugs to more men. LOL

KM Event Highlights    (top | next | prev)

This section highlights some of the major KM events taking place around the world in the coming months and ones in which I am actively involved. You will find a full list on my website where you can also subscribe to both regional e-mail alerts and RSS feeds which will keep you informed of new and upcoming events.

International Conference on Knowledge Economy (ICKE2009)
20 - 22 Oct 2009, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
I will be speaking at this conference in Sandton, Johannesburg later this week.

KM LatinAmerica 2009
26 - 30 Oct 2009, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM India 2009
28 - 30 Oct 2009, Chennai, India
I will be speaking at this conference. It will be my first trip to India.

David Gurteen's KM Unworkshop
05 Nov 2009, London, United Kingdom
I will be facilitating this KM UNworkshop in November. A workshop with a difference - should be fun!

KMWorld & Intranets 2009
17 - 19 Nov 2009, San Jose, United States

KM Asia 2009
24 - 26 Nov 2009, Singapore City, Singapore
I will be giving a keynote talk and running a workshop and a reverse brainstorming cafe at KM Asia this year.

Online Information 2009
01 - 03 Dec 2009, London, United Kingdom

Implementing a Knowledge Cafe
09 Dec 2009, London, United Kingdom
I am looking forward to facilitating this Masterclass in December. This will be my fourth with the Ark Group in London.

KM Forum 10th Annual Conference
24 - 25 Feb 2010, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom

5th Knowledge Management International Conference
25 - 27 May 2010, Terengganu, Malaysia

KC UK 2010
15 - 16 Jun 2010, London, United Kingdom

Subscribing and Unsubscribing    (top | next | prev)

You may subscribe to this newsletter on my website. Or if you no longer wish to receive this newsletter or if you wish to modify your e-mail address or make other changes to your membership profile then please go to this page on my website.

The Gurteen Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

The Gurteen Knowledge-Letter is a free monthly e-mail based KM 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. Archive copies are held on-line where you can register to receive the newsletter.

It is sponsored by the Knowledge Management Forum of the Henley Business School, Oxfordshire, England.

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 I am attributed. And if you have any queries please contact me.

Gurteen Knowledge
Fleet, United Kingdom

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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