Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 151 - January 2013


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 151 - January 2013


  1. Introduction to the January 2013 Knowledge Letter
  2. Proactive reviews - the questions
  3. David Weinberger at KMWorld 2012: facilitating knowledge sharing
  4. Humans are "designed" for conversation.
  5. The MarketingCafe
  6. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2013
  7. Upcoming Events
  8. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  9. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the January 2013 Knowledge Letter

To kick off 2013, I'd like to remind you of some of the services available to you as a member of the Gurteen Knowledge Community.

If you would like to be an active member of the community and not just receive stuff then you should join the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn. It has over 3,500 members and is a great place to meet and have discussions with like-minded people. You can join here: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539

In addition:

RSS Feeds
Subscribe to a number of RSS feeds

Quote of the Day
Receive a quotation by e-mail on a day of the week of your choosing

Event Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for new conferences & workshops in your region

New Book Alerts
Receive e-mail alerts for recently published books

Email Courses
Subscribe to short e-mail courses by e-mail

and much more. I hope you find it all useful.

Proactive reviews - the questions

You may recall I wrote about Proactive Reviews back in June 2011. Proactive Reviews are a variant of After Action Reviews (AARs) that were first used by the US army as a method for debriefing miliary actions during the Vietnam War.

The Proactive Review was developed much later by Ditte Kolbaek while she worked at Oracle and are a more business focused form of AAR that have been well documented in her book Proactive Reviews - how to make your organisation learn from experience. It's an excellent book with a detailed description of the process and is packed with case studies.

I have recently been reading her book again more deeply, to help sharpen up my Knowledge Cafes as both are conversational tools and have much in common.

If you are already familiar with AARs then this is the heart of the difference between AARS and PRs.

While an After Action Review consists of 4 questions:
  1. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  2. What happened?
  3. Why did it happen?
  4. What should we do next time?

Proactive reviews add four more questions:
  1. What is the Purpose of this Proactive Review?
  2. What was the goal/what did we set out to do?
  3. What happened?
  4. Why did it happen?
  5. What should we do next time?
  6. What are we going to report, to whom, when and how?
  7. Which of our topics are important for the organisation?
  8. What was your personal highlight from this Proactive Review?

I don't think I need explain the importance of the additional questions and why Ditte has added them but what I observe is that the first and last questions correspond well with my Knowledge Cafe process.

In recent years, my ideas around the Knowledge Cafe have developed beyond it being solely a tool to "seek a deeper understanding" of a topic. Today, every Kcafe I run is customised. In designing a Kcafe, I start with several questions. The first of which is "What is the purpose of this Knowledge Cafe?" This is later shared in the Kcafe itself. It reminds me - in every thing we do, we should start with Steven Covey's second habit "Begin with the end in mind".

And finally that last question in the Proactive Review corresponds to the end of my Kcafe where I go around the Kcafe circle and ask each participant in turn "What is your one actionable insight you would like to share with everyone?" This final question is frequently the most revealing and what often surprises me is that people take away from very different learnings from a Kcafe - even conflicting ones.

And there is no harm in that. Knowledge is very personal stuff.

David Weinberger at KMWorld 2012: facilitating knowledge sharing

A little while back I blogged about David Weinberger Education as a public act has tremendous power where he says "In the knowledge network ... the idea is ... that all learning should be in public and be something that makes the public better".

I love his work and as you can see from this web page I have been blogging about him since 2002.

I have now just discovered a video of his talk at KM World last year on facilitating knowledge sharing.

As ever, its a deeply insightful talk but what I particularly like is where he talks about the power of conversation, how it works and how we make rooms smarter. He sums up by saying:

We're going from a time of thinking that the smartest person in the room is the one at the front, or that the loudest, most obnoxious person, the person who dominates is almost always a male, [to a time] where we have the next level of intelligence, which is from the network of people who are in the room physically or virtually.

This of course is what my Knowledge Cafes are all about - "making rooms (of people) smarter".

David also talks a lot about the importance of differences in conversations. Many people think my knowledge cafes are about people being nice to each other and not disagreeing. But this could not be further from the truth. Yes, my cafes are not about debate as debates, especially amongst people who do not know each other well, can quickly become emotional and slide into argument.

My Cafes are about dialogue, engaging with each other respectfully. As soon as you start to show any form of disrespect in a conversation then the conversation is effectively ended. It becomes a debate or an argument where each person tries to impose their view on the other or where they simply walk away from the engagement.

You can deeply disagree with someone and still show them respect and thus keep the conversation alive. The longer you can so this the more likelihood that interesting things will emerge. On the other hand, if you don't value the other person or the relationship or the opportunity to explore an issue or why someone should have such a profoundly different perspective to you then you can chose to put them down or wind them up and get some perverted pleasure out of the conversation that way.

I know which approach I choose.

Humans are "designed" for conversation.

Many people find it difficult to give a speech and it is not always easy to listen to one but we are all pretty good at holding a conversation. Why is this? Surely, delivering a monologue or listening to one should be easier than dialogue?

Think about it for a moment. We face all sorts of difficulties when we have a conversation. Here are just a few:
  • We tend to talk in short, obscure, fragmentary utterances and so listeners need to fill-in the missing information and interpret what we are saying. This means a listener must often wait a while for something to become clear or must interrupt to clarify a point.
  • We cannot plan a conversation ahead of time as we never know what our conversational partners may say or ask. A conversation has a habit of going where it wants to go and not where any of the participants wish to take it.
  • When speaking we need to consider our listeners and modify our use of language on the fly so it is appropriate to the context, our listners evel of understanding or in a way that does not offend them.
  • We need to decide when it socially acceptable to interrupt the person speaking - to come in at just the right moment.
  • We need to plan how we are going to respond, if at all, while at the same time listening and in a multi-party conversation decide who to address.

It shouldn't be easy should it? But like me, I suspect you have never given it a second thought.

If you are interested in a scientific answer then take a look at the paper Why is conversation so easy? by Simon Garrod and Martin Pickering. They say its because the interactive nature of dialogue supports the interactive alignment of linguistic representations but I will leave you to make sense of that :-)

But the simple answer is that evolution has "wired" our brains for dialogue rather than monologue.

If we are "designed" for conversation - not for monologue then why do we inflict lectures on each other?

Credit: Thanks to Stephen Mugford. for pointing me to this paper

The MarketingCafe

A participant on one of my Knowledge Cafe workshops in London last year was Andrew Armour. Andrew has since taken my Knowledge Cafe process, adapted it for a Marketing context and dubbed it the "MarketingCafe". Here is what he says about in his blog.
A MarketingCafe works by continually re-mixing small group conversations (ideally only three to a table) focused on carefully constructed open questions.

It's a structured way to generate the kind of great conversations you may have with good colleagues in the pub, hotel lounge or café, rather than those found more often in the boardroom -- or brainstorm.

Participants are encouraged to ask more questions rather than jump in to solve the question as more curiosity not instant solutions is the aim.

The loose, small group format helps the more confident to take a step back and therefore allows the space for the often introverted, technical and creative specialists to contribute more.

The Café is deceptively simple and yet highly effective.

If you wish to learn more about his process then see his blog post Why we need more conversation and less brainstorming. and take a look at this earlier post of his Stimulating Conversation And The Marketing Cafe

The great thing about the Knowledge Cafes process is that it can be adapted to all sorts of ends while still sticking to its core principles.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2013

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for December 2012 - January 2013 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 Events

Here are 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.

KM Legal Europe 2013
23 - 24 Jan 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I will be giving the keynote at this conference.

Learning Technologies Conference
29 - 30 Jan 2013, London, United Kingdom

eduhub days 2013
30 - 31 Jan 2013, St. Gallen, Switzerland
I will be giving the keynote talk at this conference.

Henley KM Forum Annual Conference
27 - 28 Feb 2013, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom
I will be attending this conference.

KM Europe 2013
24 - 25 Apr 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I will be speaking at KM Europe.

KM UK 2013
26 - 27 Jun 2013, London, United Kingdom
I will be at KM UK again this year.

14th European Conference on Knowledge Management
05 - 06 Sep 2013, Kaunas, Lithuania

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

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

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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