Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 140 - February 2012


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 140 - February 2012


  1 Introduction to the February 2012 Knowledge Letter
  2 How do we tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?
  3 World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements
  4 The aim of Knowledge Management should be enabling better conversations
  5 Bookwormery: fuelling your children's desire to know more
  6 The flipped classroom: turning traditional teaching on its head
  7 Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2012
  8 Upcoming Knowledge Events: February 2012
  9 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
10 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the February 2012 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

After almost 10 years of running my Knowledge Cafes it is so good to find other people who are questioning the lecture format of education and learning. Flip Teaching seems to be gathering apace and many people who have adopted this approach for years are coming out of the woodwork.

This recent article Dont Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn about Harvard's professor Eric Mazur talks about the benefits of practicing peer instruction in class, rather than the traditional lecture is just one example.

Some quotes from the article:
Research conducted over the past few decades shows it's impossible for students to take in and process all the information presented during a typical lecture, and yet this is one of the primary ways college students are taught, particularly in introductory courses.

Cognitive scientists determined that people's short-term memory is very limited - it can only process so much at once. A lot of the information presented in a typical lecture comes at students too fast and is quickly forgotten.

So for reasons he can't remember, Mazur told the students to discuss the question with each other. "And something happened in my classroom which I had never seen before," he says. "The entire classroom erupted in chaos. They were dying to explain it to one another and to talk about it." Mazur says after just a few minutes of talking to each other, most of the students seemed to have a much better understanding of the concept he'd been trying to teach.

Watch this space. This is just the beginning.

How do we tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?    (top | next | prev)

It is perhaps the defining question of our time: How to tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?

The answer, I am convinced, lies in what I call the diplomacy of knowledge, defined as our ability and willingness to work together and share our learning across disciplines and borders.

When people achieve the right mixture of creativity, communication and co-operation, remarkable things can happen.

I was pleased to come across this article by David Johnston, the Governor-General of Canada. It's a question I ask myself almost every day. What David Johnston refers to as the "diplomacy of knowledge" is to me what KM should be all about.

David makes some excellent points in his article though I must admit I have sympathies with one of the commenters who says "A nice Pollyanna, apple pie, motherhood essay."

Working together and sharing together across disciplines and borders as David advocates is good but I don't think sufficient. There is something fundamental missing. I believe Peter Block is thinking along the right lines when he says we need to change our thinking about what constitutes action.

My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.

This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.

Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.

Interesting thoughts. I am thinking about the role my Knowledge Cafes could play in this.

World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements    (top | next | prev)

I recently received an email from Jamie Feild Baker of the The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence who told me all about John Hunter and his World Peace Game and who has since sent me a full-length copy of the film World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements

As I first watched the film and the complexity of the game started to dawn on me, I was highly sceptical that these 4th graders could possibly cope with it. I was wrong, so damned wrong! Watching the kids handle with the complexities and ambiguities of the game is absolutely delightful. I'd have little problem with putting them in charge of the world tomorrow!

Take a look at the trailer below - it gives a fair insight into the game and kids.

This is what education should be like and be about. I am so impressed with John Hunter. Jamie - a big thanks for sharing this with me.

World Peace...and other 4th-grade achievements interweaves the story of John Hunter, a teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his students' participation in an exercise called the World Peace Game.

The game triggers an eight-week transformation of the children from students of a neighborhood public school to citizens of the world.

The film reveals how a wise, loving teacher can unleash students' full potential.

The film traces how Hunter's unique teaching career emerges from his own diverse background.

An African-American educated in the segregated schools of rural Virginia, where his mother was his 4th grade teacher, he was selected by his community to be one of seven students to integrate a previously all-white middle school.

After graduation, he traveled extensively to China, Japan, and India, and his exposure to the Ghandian principles of non-violence led him to ask what he could do as a teacher to work toward a more peaceful world.

Hunter teaches the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and he provides his students with the tools for this effort.

The children learn to collaborate and communicate with each other as they work to resolve the Game's conflicts.

They learn how to compromise while accommodating different perspectives and interests. Most importantly, the students discover that they share a deep and abiding interest in taking care of each other. World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements will inspire others by documenting the unheralded work of a true peacemaker.

World Peace Game's Core Principles

  • Contradictory elements can and should co-exist
  • Deliberate creation of an overwhelming sense of diverse complexity or fostering, in other words…chaos
  • Encouragement of complex problem solving in a collaborative situation
  • Stimulate the development of empathy and compassion
  • Promote the ability to hold and maintain multiple perspectives simultaneously, around an issue while withholding judgment
  • Slowing down the problem solving process, provides:
    • Depth over time – Stimulation of and support for long term thinking
    • Increase in possible solutions
    • Richness (complexity)
  • Promote critical thinking via:
    • Apprehending the natural inherent complexity and simplicity mixture
    • Directly engaging with complexity vs. avoiding or parsing
    • Promoting non-attachment to phenomena as useful tool
  • Reveal personal inherent skills
  • Team-based solutions formed by deliberate pressures (i.e. deadlines), and a sense of urgency
  • The ability to cultivate and maintain acute problem solving skills over time
  • Facilitate Self-Reflective awareness through Self-Evident Assessment (SEA) (internalized evaluation)
  • Creation of a reflective thinking log to follow personal exploration of the process of mind habits
  • Show, understand, and appreciate the value of non-measurable outcomes.
  • Extrapolation of actions/reactions in multiple directions/levels at once
  • No experts
  • Luxury to fail
  • Flexibility
  • Elaboration

The aim of Knowledge Management should be enabling better conversations    (top | next | prev)

One simple statement that differentiates Knowledge Management from Information Management is this:
Knowledge Management is practised through activities that support better decision-making.

Information Management is practised by improving the systems that store, capture and transmit information.

And as for a definition of knowledge
Knowledge is the ability to make effective decisions and take effective action.

Credit: Adapted from Peter Senge

This tallies nicely with my view and that held by many that knowledge only resides in our heads, everything captured or written down is just information.

For me, one of the clearest examples of IM verses KM, is my recent story about the work at the ING Bank Academy. There a small team of people gather articles and reports about relevant trends in management, banking and finance that may impact the bank. They then broadcast “Research Alerts” to interested parties by e-mail.

This sort of activity ifs often seen as a KM activity but it is not - it is IM. What's more, in most organisations such activity stops there. Getting information to people is seen as enough.

But at ING Bank, they go one critical step further - they help people make sense of the information. If the Alert deserves attention they host a Knowledge Café to discuss it's implications, impact, risks and opportunities and if need be to take action. This is clearly Knowledge Management. in fact, it's a conversation.
The characteristics of conversations map to the conditions for genuine knowledge generation and sharing: they're unpredictable interactions among people speaking in their own voice about something they're interested in. The conversants implicitly acknowledge that they don't have all the answers (or else the conversation is really a lecture) and risk being wrong in front of someone else. And conversations overcome the class structure of business, suspending the organization chart at least for a little while.

If you think about the aim of Knowledge Management as enabling better conversations rather than lassoing stray knowledge doggies, you end up focusing on breaking down the physical and class barriers to conversation. And if that's not what Knowledge Management is really about, then you ought to be doing it anyway.

More and more, I see KM as being about enabling conversations: "Business really is a conversation".

And this brings me to my Knowledge Cafe workshops.

I am running another one on 02 May 2012 in London. The workshop is not just about the Knowledge Cafe as a conversation or KM tool but explores the broader role of conversation in business; its relevance and importance.

Do come along if you are interested and join the conversation. You'll find more information here.

Bookwormery: fuelling your children's desire to know more    (top | next | prev)

I have two amazing daughters, Lauren and Sally, who both blog. And I have one amazing son, Jonathan, who doesn't blog. Both my daughters love cats and so the names of their blogs will come as no surprise.

Neither of the blogs have anything to do with KM - thank goodness. More insights into their lives.

One of the things I am so pleased I took the time to do when they were little was to read to them at bedtime. It was never a chore, part of the enjoyment of being a dad

And so this post on Bookwormery by Sally is a lovely kind of thank you from her.

From a very early age, our father would always read to us. He would take us to the bookshop at the weekend and we would buy books to read in the week. We would listen to his warm voice and fall asleep to it. As a result of this, while the other children at school were reading books recommended for their age, I was given the privilege of reading whatever I liked and I often chose older, more challenging material, which only fuelled my desire to know more!

The flipped classroom: turning traditional teaching on its head    (top | next | prev)

I have been talking more and more recently about the concept of flip teaching. Its one of the most exciting developments have come across in quite a while and I am convinced it is going to transform traditional education.

I am interested in education and its effectiveness but what really interests me is that the philosophy behind flip teaching is the same as my Knowledge Cafes and the work at the ING Bank Academy.
We don't learn well from being lectured at but we do learn well from engaging conversations.

Credit: David Gurteen

Here is a cool Infographic that describes the concept:

And here is YouTube playlist on Flip Teaching I have put together that you may enjoy.

I am also starting to experiment with Storify. Here is a story on the Flip Classroom created by Jennifer Fenton.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2012    (top | next | prev)

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Jan 2011 - Feb 2012. 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.

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Upcoming Knowledge Events: February 2012    (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.

5th Annual Global Learning Summit
22 Feb 2012, Singapore City, Singapore

Henley KM Forum 12th Annual Conference
29 Feb - 01 Mar 2012, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom
I will be giving a short talk on Positive Deviance during the dinner at this conference

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe in Dubai (Free event)
11 Mar 2012, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

KM Middle East 2012
13 - 14 Mar 2012, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
I will be speaking at this conference and delivering a semiinar.

Kuwait Knowledge Management Conference
23 - 25 Apr 2012, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes
02 May 2012, London, United Kingdom
The third in my recent series of "How to run a Knowledge Cafe" workshops to be held in London in May 2012

II EDO International Congress
23 - 25 May 2012, Barcelona, Spain
I will be speaking at this conference.

KM UK 2012
13 - 14 Jun 2012, London, United Kingdom
I will be at KM UK again this year.

KMICe 2012 : 6th Knowledge Management International Conference 2012
04 - 06 Jul 2012, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM 2012)
04 - 06 Sep 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa
I plan to be participating in this conference.

KM LatinAmerican 2012
22 - 26 Oct 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM Asia 2012
06 - 08 Nov 2012, Singapore City, Singapore
I will be at KM Asia this year.

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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