Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 131 - May 2011


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 131 - May 2011


  1 Introduction to the May 2011 Knowledge Letter
  2 Latest discussons from the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on Linkedin
  3 We must stop doing things to people
  4 What interesting toilet paper
  5 Don't use standardized appraisal forms
  6 A tale of two cafes
  7 We are volunteers not conscripts
  8 May 2011: Major upcoming KM Events
  9 Knowledge tweets: May 2011
10 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
11 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the May 2011 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

I occassionally start this newsletter with a little rant :-) and that's just what I am going to do today :-)

I often want to phone someone I have not phoned before but its not always easy. First, I frequently have difficulty finding the persons phone number online and then even when I have, barriers still exist

  • Is it a home no, an office no or a mobile no? There is often no way of telling. This is important to know when calling out of hours or when I know the person is travelling. Also knowing if its a mobile number or not allows me to text them rather than to call.
  • Does the number include the international country code and are there any leading digits I need to add or drop when making an international call? I can waste a lot of time figuring this out.
  • Is the phone an iPhone or more generally what sort of smart phone is it? This is becoming more and more important as being an iPhone user myself, if the person I am calling is an iPhone, Android or Blackberry user then I can use apps like WhatsApp, Tango or Viber not only to make a free call but to send text or voice messages, video clips and photos. (These sort of apps are the future of the mobile phone by the way.)

So please, when you put your phone number on your email footer, your website or blog make it clear e.g. iPhone: +44 7774 178 650 and include the spaces to make the number easy to transcribe.

I try to put my phone number everywhere. I want people to contact me. Many people keep their phone number very private as they tell me they do not want nuisance calls. Funny, in 15 years or more of making my number freely available, I can only recall one such call.

Latest discussons from the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on Linkedin    (top | next | prev)

The Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn has grown by about 70 members over the last 4 weeks from 2,417 to 2,488 today.

There are various discussions taking place .... here are three interesting ones that you might like to take a look at or join in:

You can join LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join and the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group here : http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539

And of you are interested in conversational tools such as Knowledge Cafes, AARs, peer-assists and the like then take a look at my recently created Gurteen Knowledge Cafe Forum. This is a LinkedIn subgroup of the main Gurteen Knowledge Community on LinkedIn.

We must stop doing things to people    (top | next | prev)

One of my frequent messages is that we need to stop "doing things to people and start to work together". Let me explain.

People often ask me "How do we make people share?" or "How so we make people adopt social tools?" or, more generally, "How do we make people more engaged?".

That little word "make" comes up time and again. It's really obvious when it does and I wince every time I hear it.

Yet even when I point it out and people apologise and say "Oh I didn't mean that; it was just a turn of phrase", I am still not convinced. Deep down we all feel the need to "make people be different". Oh, wouldn't it be so good if everyone was just like me?

Recently I have started to realise that there is a more subtle approach. The other things I often get asked are "How do we incentivise people?" or "How do we motivate them?".

Think about it. Once again, we are trying to do things to people – incentivise or motivate them; however we look at it, we are trying to change them!

And then, I will hear people say (or catch myself saying) "How do we help people to see things differently?" or "How do we support them in this change?".

But notice, in all these statements, the assumption is that we know best -- that we have the right answers and others do not, and that we need to intervene and correct them. Even if we do wrap it all up in cotton-wool and say "help" rather than "make".

The really deep issue is that we are thinking about the world as "us and them", when we need to be thinking in terms of "we".

Rather than "I am here to help you", which implies you are in need of help and I am your saviour, we need to approach people with "How can we work better together?". And we need to mean that. It is not some ploy to enact our predetermined agenda. It's about approaching them without an agenda other than to genuinely work with them better.

I have also noticed another strange phenomena: people will often tell me that the biggest excuse that their staff use for not changing, doing things differently or sharing their knowledge is that they have no time. But then the conversation moves on and when sometime later, I ask them whether they blog, tweet, write articles or give presentations (in other words, do they walk the talk?) guess what they say? "Oh no, David. If only I had the time!". They are using exactly the same excuse.

Each year in its December issue, Time magazine announces its person of the year. In the December 2006 issue, in reaction to Web 2.0, it announced that person as "you" and added "Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world."

Personally, if I had been the editor, I would have phrased it somewhat differently:"We, yes, we. We control the information age. Welcome to our world".

So, some thoughts for this new world:
  1. Stop doing things to people;
  2. Become the change we wish to see; and
  3. Start to work together.

We are moving to a participatory "WE" world. So whenever you initiate anything ask yourself the question: "Am I trying to do things to people or am I approaching them with a genuine view to work together better?".

What interesting toilet paper    (top | next | prev)

Funny, how you find one thing when you are looking for something totally different. I was looking for toilet -paper - yes toilet paper. I could never find a toilet paper I liked until I recently bought a pack of "One supersofty quilted toilet tissue" from my local supermarket and loved it.

Anyway, I was complementing myself on the find when I thought I had better go check the pack for the name of the brand so I could buy some more. And this is what it said on the pack. "100% of our profit helps to fund sanitation and hygiene projects in Africa". Wow! What a brilliant idea I thought ... so I ran downstairs to check out their website.

They have a whole range of products based on a really simple idea. They create quality products, and every time you buy one, they donate 100% of the profit to projects in developing countries.

But here is the clever bit: Every one of their products funds a like-for-like equivalent, for example, their toilet tissue funds hygiene and sanitation projects in Africa and their One organic free range eggs fund community egg farming projects in Malawi.

As they say on their site: " So it's really easy to understand where your money goes. And it's really easy to make a difference. You don't even need to change your habits, just the products in your shopping basket."

What a great Social Business. Toms Shoes is another great example.

Don't use standardized appraisal forms    (top | next | prev)

Tom Peters gives an order - Dont use standardised appraisal forms!

You might even want to consider going further by reading this book Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead. Or reading this review.

Personally, both as a recipient and a manager I have always loathed traditional performance appraisals.

There has got to be a better way!

A tale of two cafes    (top | next | prev)

Many of you will be familiar with my Knowledge Cafe and maybe also with the World Cafe. Until now, I have not really involved myself with the World Cafe as although it is a similar process to my Knowledge Cafe process there are some subtle but significant differences. But now, as I start to put more of my focus into my Knowledge Cafes and other face-to-face conversational tools, it makes sense for me to get involved with the World Cafe in various ways.

A start to this has been to make contact with Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, the founders of the World Cafe and also to join the World Cafe Online community  and their World Cafe LinkedIn Group. As most people, in the World Cafe community are not familiar with me or my work, I recently posted this introduction to myself on the World Cafe Online Community  website.

I thought I would share a key element of this with you ... the section that briefly describes the difference between the World Cafe and my Knowledge Cafe. I will be writing more on this over time.

I would like to tell you more about my Knowledge Cafes. I call them Gurteen Knowledge Cafes mainly to distinguish my process from other forms of Knowledge Cafe and the World Cafe but also partly to brand them. The roots of my Cafe are different to those of the World Cafe. I started to run my Cafes in London, in September 2002 in response to my frustration with death-by-powerpoint KM talks. Although I was aware of the World Cafe at the time (Juanita and David gave birth to the World Cafes way back in 1995), because of the language that was used to describe it, I did not see it as a business tool and did not take too much notice of it.

I developed the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe from my own experiences and a desire for an alternative to traditional presentations. In recent years, I have run my Knowledge Cafes and my Knowledge Cafe masterclasses, where I teach people how to design and run Knowledge Cafes, all over the world. To give you an idea, I have run them in cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hong, Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Seattle, Phoenix, Quebec City, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Oslo, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Brussels, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

What is interesting, now that I have taken the time to look closer at the World Cafe, is that the two processes are very similar. There are differences though that although small on the surface, I think are significant e.g. no table hosts. But the major difference is that my Cafes are business focused where the World Cafe is community focused. I use business language rather than community language and although there is a core process, I teach people how they can adapt the Cafe to different business ends.

Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with the World Cafe and I love the work that the World Cafe Community is doing around the world to address social issues and build community. This is an area I am increasingly interested in. If you follow me on Twitter (@DavidGurteen) you will see many of my tweets tagged #SocialGood. But it is hard enough selling the Knowledge Cafe concept into business organisations when the outcomes are so intangible, never mind using the language of the World Cafe which turns most business managers off. I don't agree with it but that's the reality

I see a number of KM face-to-face knowledge sharing processes as having a great deal in common with each other e.g. peer assists, after-action reviews, post-project reviews, knowledge cafes and knowledge jams. If we add to these the World Cafe, Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry then we have a category of face-to-face conversational based tools that I call "Conversation Cafes". I am also a keen advocate of Unconference and Barcamps. This is increasingly my area of focus.

Over the coming 12 months, I plan to run many more of my open Knowledge Cafes (these are free events) and Knowledge Cafe masterclasses in London and around Europe but also as I have always done, around the world as I travel.

We are volunteers not conscripts    (top | next | prev)

This post from Johnnie Moore and another post from Euan Semple both resonated with me recently.

Managers really have to start treating people like volunteers and not conscripts. Or as I so often put it "We must stop doing things to people and start to work together."

Its a principal I apply in my Knowledge Cafes. People are not forced to come and then I quite deliberately do not force people to join in or try to manipulate them or the conversation in any way. (And yes I am aware it is impossible to entirely do that :-) )

I tell them that if they just wish to just listen that is perfectly OK. And the final part of my Cafe, where I go around the circle and ask people to share one actionable insight with the group, I also give people the change to opt-out by saying "pass".

May 2011: Major upcoming KM Events    (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.

Masterclass: Implementing Knowledge Cafes (Edinburgh)
07 Jun 2011, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
An opportunity to learn how to run and apply Knowledge Cafes.

Breaking Down Organisational Silos
09 Jun 2011, London, United Kingdom

Knowledge Café with David Gurteen and presentation of the book: Proactive Reviews by Ditte Kolbćk
14 Jun 2011, Copenhagen, Denmark
An opportunity to learn more about Proactive Reviews and Knowledge Cafes.

KM UK 2011
21 - 22 Jun 2011, London, United Kingdom
I'll be running a Knowledge Cafe at this event.

10th Annual Information & Knowledge Management Conference
22 - 23 Jun 2011, Johannesburg, South Africa

KM Australia - Asia Pacific Congress 2011
18 - 21 Jul 2011, Sydney, Australia
I will be chairing this event.

12th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM 2011)
01 - 02 Sep 2011, Passau, Germany
I will be attending this event for the eighth year in succession.

i-KNOW 2011
07 - 09 Sep 2011, Graz, Austria

The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM2011)
12 - 14 Sep 2011, Amman, Jordan

KMO 2011 (Sixth International KMO Conference)
27 - 28 Sep 2011, Tokyo, Japan

13th KnowTech 2011
28 - 29 Sep 2011, Bad Homburg, Germany

International Conference on Knowledge Economy (ICKE2011)
24 - 28 Oct 2011, East London, South Africa

8th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning (ICICKM 2011)
27 - 28 Oct 2011, Bangkok, Thailand

Knowledge tweets: May 2011    (top | next | prev)

Here are some of my more interesting Tweets for April - May 2011. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts. And if you like what you see then subscribe to my Tweets.
  • The Cats Explore http://bit.ly/j4Wevu /my daughter's blog, pure nostalgia of her childhood, yes that's me in the last photo :-)
    2011-05-20 17:05:51 UTC

  • Book: Knowledge Works (15 Jun 2011) by Christine Van Winkelen, Jane McKenzie http://bit.ly/jIJioO #KM
    2011-05-20 16:36:25 UTC

  • Sharing Information Corrupts Wisdom of Crowds http://bit.ly/lpkMx4 #KM
    2011-05-20 08:08:12 UTC

  • Fighting the Knowledge Hiding Epidemic http://bit.ly/kPIy9n #KM
    2011-05-20 07:14:31 UTC

  • Questioning Academic Authority http://bit.ly/lqOMjs /funny but so sad
    2011-05-20 06:38:16 UTC

  • Understanding the processes that lead from connecting to sharing and finally to collaborating. http://bit.ly/jYZDhO #KM
    2011-05-19 15:42:37 UTC

  • Team Building through Brainstorming & Conversation http://bit.ly/m2brka #GoodToTalk
    2011-05-19 12:26:37 UTC

  • Mastering social media for networked learning http://bit.ly/ioQhSs #SocialLearning
    2011-05-19 11:12:44 UTC

  • The Evolution of the Knowledge Web Worker http://bit.ly/m2CdxN #KM
    2011-05-17 18:27:37 UTC

  • Phil Bradley comments on Seth's Blog: The future of the library http://bit.ly/miObrs #KM
    2011-05-17 11:24:30 UTC

  • Managing in a networked world http://bit.ly/klJ6l4
    2011-05-17 09:29:57 UTC

  • Foursquare's Dennis Crowley Delivers Graduation Speech at Syracuse [VIDEO] http://on.mash.to/mRmqhD
    2011-05-17 07:39:28 UTC

  • Are you motivated or committed? http://bit.ly/jzM2ze
    2011-05-16 22:29:53 UTC

  • The future of the library. What is a public library for? by @sethgodin http://bit.ly/kXzIRc
    2011-05-16 12:31:06 UTC

  • Is your presentation like shampoo? http://bit.ly/mdIUa0
    2011-05-16 12:21:05 UTC

  • Four tips for a better networking event http://bit.ly/jrjeem
    2011-05-15 07:20:01 UTC

  • A large part of the benefit of conferences is that they are an opportunity for networking and side conversations. http://bit.ly/mRLlxu
    2011-05-12 07:01:02 UTC

  • THE WORLD'S BIGGEST PROBLEMS http://bit.ly/k6JtrS #WBP
    2011-05-07 11:58:02 UTC

  • There are no successful social media implementations inside firewalls http://bit.ly/k0thD9 #SocialBusiness
    2011-05-06 06:37:10 UTC

  • It is a mistake to write down your values, as the act of codification results in their loss. From @snowded http://bit.ly/jkvKbS
    2011-05-06 06:33:00 UTC

  • Report outs should be abolished. The value of a small group discussion is in the discussion. http://bit.ly/lJTrTd #GoodToTalk
    2011-05-05 20:16:49 UTC

  • Guidelines for Leveraging Collective Knowledge and Insight by Nancy Dixon http://bit.ly/kvwm7z #KM #GoodToTalk
    2011-05-05 20:11:49 UTC

  • RT @elsua: Goodness! Everyone who uses the Web on a regular basis should watch this awesome TED Talk! HT @rhappe http://bit.ly/krrYrh
    2011-05-04 20:24:42 UTC

  • Lessig: Just how badly have we messed up the architecture of access to scientific knowledge? http://bit.ly/lLycbx #KM
    2011-05-04 20:02:13 UTC

  • 'Activity Streams' Will Be the Glue of Your Online Life http://bit.ly/ldfN4b
    2011-05-04 19:55:14 UTC

  • Why Activity Streams Will Save You From Information Overload by @elsua http://bit.ly/kfQBn7 #KM
    2011-05-04 19:41:46 UTC

  • How to connect people in large group settings http://bit.ly/iLEGfd #facilitation
    2011-05-04 19:37:15 UTC

  • Social tools require people to observe the world, make sense of it, and convey that sense to others by @euan http://bit.ly/l1bWk8
    2011-05-04 19:35:53 UTC

  • Retweet of Michael Sampson (collabguy)
    Encourage the Quieter People to Speak: Do or Don't? #collaboration #facilitation @davidgurteen http://bit.ly/jfTEnX
    2011-04-29 14:28:28 UTC

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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The community is for people who are committed to making a difference: people who wish to share and learn from each other and who strive to see the world differently, think differently and act differently.

Membership of the Gurteen Knowledge Community is free.
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