Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 164 - February 2014


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 164 - February 2014


  1. Introduction to the February 2014 Knowledge Letter
  2. The consequences of wolves and our actions
  3. Making post project reviews more conversational
  4. Free access to Knowledge Management Research & Practice during March 2014!
  5. 50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management"
  6. How do we transfer knowledge through everyday meeting talk?
  7. The future of telepresence
  8. Social software tools to facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives
  9. The Sustainable Organization Library (SOL)
  10. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  11. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2014
  12. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  13. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the February 2014 Knowledge Letter

I upgraded my iPhone just before Christmas to an iPhone 5S. I wasn't expecting a great deal. I was expecting it to be faster to have a longer battery life and of course a better camera. I certainly wasn't expecting it to have a major impact on my productivity.

What is the magic app that is making all the difference? Quite simply it is the in-built speech recognition facility. It's quite amazing. If I speak slowly and clearly it is 100% accurate. I use it all the time to dictate SMS messages.

But more than that I use it to compose emails and blog posts. I am using it right now to create this newsletter.

I gather there is a similar function on other smartphones but I have no idea how good the transcription is compared to the iPhone.

What surprises me though is that I discovered it quite by accident. Like me, you may not be familiar with the capability. I have mentioned it to several people with iPhones and they were not using it. Try it out, if you haven't, you will be gobsmacked.

What is really cute though, is that with a little bit of my own coded Lotus Notes technology I can record a blog post and email right in to my website. It's a dream!

The consequences of wolves and our actions

One of the things that has long intrigued me is the unintended consequences of our actions.

We do something either intentionally or by accident and as a consequence of that action a whole load of unintended consequences follow.

Those consequences can be good or they can be bad. If they are bad and we notice them we can take corrective action.

But too often, we either do not notice the consequences of our actions or if we do, we do not attribute them to our original action.

Things change and we have no real idea why and the last thing that we do is to put it down to our own actions.

This little video about wolves in Yellowstone Park is a wonderful example of this in action The last wolf was killed in Yellowstone National Park in 1926 and they were not reintroduced until 1995.

Seems the impact has been amazing. Would you ever expect less than 100 wolves to actually have an affect on the course of the rivers in Yellowstone Park. Take a look at this video and see why! How wolves change rivers or read about it here in the History of wolves in Yellowstone.

What else do we do or decide not to do in this world but have no idea of the real consequences - many of them long them where the connection between cause and effect is lost?

Making post project reviews more conversational

I am currently documenting the many ways in which I have seen the Knowledge Cafe taken and adapted by organisations for different purposes. I am also writing about further ways in which I think the KCafe could be used.

Early last year, I wrote how I thought it could improve the Post Project Review process for a colleague, hoping that we might have the opportunity to try the process out with one of his clients but nothing came of it.

Rather than letting my thoughts sit on my hard-disk for another year or so I thought I'd publish them here. They are a little rough but I hope you will get the general idea. If anyone would like to experiment with this process then get in touch with me.

Introduction to Conversational Post Project Reviews
Many post-project reviews rely on people filling in forms. Or on meetings where the whole group is asked a question and people reply individually. Or where people present their pre-filled forms to the group. Others are based on interviews.

Often they are highly structured and formal in nature, with check-lists, specific categories of questions, pre-defined questions and pre-allocated times for discussion and so forth. There is nothing greatly wrong with this structured analytical approach and there is no one way to run post-project reviews but its fair to say that in general they are not very "conversational". By and large, it is assumed that people already know what the problems were and all that is needed is to capture the "lessons learnt".

The Knowledge Cafe Philosophy takes a different approach by assuming that until people start to talk openly about how the project went many of the problems and missed opportunities and insights will not be surfaced. It takes group conversation, people talking freely and openly in small groups of 3 or 4 to achieve this. It's not that the more formal approach does not work, it's that it does not surface the deeper, more important stuff.

The Process
One or more Knowledge Cafes can form part of any larger post-project review process and elements of this conversational process may be built into other activities.

A typical process might be as follows though this methodology can be adapted in many ways to meet the needs of the review.
  • The cafe process is described to the participants if they are not already familiar with it.
  • A speed conversation session is run. Here the participants are asked to join each other in pairs and have a brief conversation about anything they wish. Three rounds of 5 minutes each might be sufficient.
  • Some one talks for 5 to 10 minutes to set the context of the conversation.
  • They then pose a question to the group to trigger the conversation (more on the question in a moment).
  • People are seated in small groups, 3 or 4, at the very most 5 people group. There are no table leaders.
  • The small groups have a conversation around the topic/question and after about 15 mins are asked to change groups.
  • This change of groups takes place twice thus there are 3 small group conversations.
  • Everyone comes back together to form whole group. People move their chairs to form a circle and everyone sits in the circle.
  • The conversation then continues where people share their insights from the small groups with everyone.
  • Finally, the KCafe leader goes around the circle and asks everyone to share one lesson that they have learnt from the project and/or their KCafe conversations.
Speed Conversations
Recent research (Friends With Cognitive Benefits -What Types of Social Interactions Boost Executive Functioning? by Oscar Ybarra, Piotr Winkielman, Irene Yeh, Eugene Burnstein, Liam Kavanagh) shows that talking with other people in a friendly way makes it easier to solve common problems. Conversations that are competitive in tone however, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits and actually suppress the ability to solve problems. This is the reason for the short round of speed conversations at the start of the Cafe. It relaxes, people, gets them talking about uncontroversial things and actually boosts their thinking ability.

Group Size
The essential ingredient of the Cafe is the small group conversations and the fact that each group is only 3 or 4 people in size (never less than 3 and never greater than 5). Research on group size (Group Discussion as Interactive Dialogue or as Serial Monologue: The Influence of Group Size by Nicolas Fay; Simon Garrod; Jean Carletta) shows that in small groups the communication is like dialogue and members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion. However, in larger groups, the communication is like monologue and members are influenced most by the dominant speaker. Large groups tend to be dominated by one or two members to the detriment of the others. In other words, if you are looking for highly interactive conversation that connects observations, thoughts and ideas and surface new things, then a small group size of 3 or 4 is essential. The whole group is more suited to reporting back and sharing knowledge rather than surfacing or creating it.

The Circle
The circle that is used for the whole group conversation is a very powerful. By sitting in a circle, first and foremost everyone is equal. Everyone can also easily see and hear each other. Its not easy to hide and its actually more difficult to dominate. Importantly, the Cafe leader can also see everyone and through eye contact and body language to some degree can shape the conversation by indicating to dominant people they should talk less and encouraging the quieter members of the group to speak up.

The Question
There is usually only ever one question asked in a Knowledge cafe and as it is the trigger for the conversations that ensue it is of the upmost importance and it is essential to think about it and craft it carefully. The KCafe is about creating a conversational experience. In some ways the question should not be designed so much as to get answers to specific issues but to generate engagement. Engagement at times can be important then content. We are not looking for surface issues here we are looking for deep ones.

If the KCafe is held early on in the post project review, maybe it is the first item, then it sets the conversational scene for the remainder of the session. We want people to feel relaxed, free from fear, energised and engaged. One way to do this is to make the questions personal, responsibility and action oriented.

For example:
  • What did you personally learn from this project?
  • In what ways do you feel personally responsible for the outcome of the project?
  • What would you personally do differently next time as a result of your experience of working on this project?
  • What opportunities did you miss to do things better?
Building elements of the Cafe into the post project review process
One very simple adaptation of the KCafe process is to build time for conversation into your existing process. For example, at present, you may ask the participants as a whole group to answer a specific question and let some sort of conversation emerge around that question.

The KCafe approach, would be to have people seated in small groups of 3 or 4 and to ask them to discuss the question in their small groups first before coming together to discuss as a large group. Forming a circle for the large group conversation is also a powerful KCafe technique to adopt.

There is not one, prescriptive way to do this but I think we need to get away from the rigidness and formality of so much that we do in corporate life and make processes such as this one more relaxed, engaging and conversational.

If you like these ideas, experiment and let me know how you get on.

Free access to Knowledge Management Research & Practice during March 2014!

From March 1 - 31, 2014 Palgrave Macmillan is offering free online access to all its journals, including Knowledge Management Research & Practice (KMRP).

This is a great opportunity to explore the journal, which includes articles on all aspects of managing knowledge, organisational learning, intellectual capital and knowledge economics.

Don't know where to start? Try 10 articles from 10 years: celebrating KMRP's first decade of publication:

Or, you can browse within the journal's 12-year archive:

For more information about the promotion, visit: http://bit.ly/PMJAAA-Read

Knowledge Management Research & Practice Journal

50% discount off my book "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management"

Last year Academic Publishing International published Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management.

The book is a collection of ten academic papers that I carefully selected to create the volume and wrote a short editorial comment on each paper.

You can now purchase the book at a 50% discount by quoting the code SKM50 when you order online.

How do we transfer knowledge through everyday meeting talk?

It's not too often I get the opportunity to help out someone who is doing some really fascinating research into Knowledge Management and conversation. So could anyone help out Lesley Crane please?

Lesley is a final year PhD student investigating organizational knowledge work - knowledge transfer and sharing. Her study focuses on how such work is accomplished in everyday meeting talk. This seems to me to be an original approach in that it locates the study of knowledge in talk and text, and it is this discourse which she is analysing to investigate how and with what effect people share and create knowledge.

She is looking to engage with organizations who would be willing to take part in her study. It is unobtrusive - she doesn't even need to be present! All she needs are good recordings of any type of organizational meeting. The only proviso is that participants need to be English speakers! Confidentiality and anonymity are guaranteed.

If you would like to help please get in touch with Lesley via email @ [email protected].

If this approach intrigues you as it does me then you will find two of her past papers here

The future of telepresence

I recently posted an item on telepresence. In response, Helen Baxter in New Zealand pointed me to this Kinect Real-Time Room Telepresence. What an amazing development!

Imagine looking into another room through a glass window and as you walked around in your room the perspective of everything in the room through the window changed just as in real life. In other words, when you move, the video follows, adjusting itself in real-time to give the effect that it was a real window! Everything displayed of course is life size!

The Kinect makes this possible by having a depth detecting feature, allowing 3d video capture. 10 Kinect cameras are used for capture and 1 for tracking.

I am imaging that the screen/window was a cylinder in the middle of the room that you could walk around. Is that possible?

There's also a whitepaper from MIT

Thanks Helen!

Social software tools to facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives

My good friend Professor Dan Remenyi is developing a repository of social software tools which will directly facilitate research and researchers in achieving their objectives. He is looking to collect examples of useful products and websites and also anecdotes about how they have been used and what type of results have been achieved. This will eventually be published on a website and in an e-Book and all contributions will be acknowledged.

Please contact him if you would like to make a contribution to this repository of knowledge. His e-mail is [email protected]

The Sustainable Organization Library (SOL)

I was talking with Holly Shukla at the AKISS conference recently and she told me about the Sustainable Organization Library (SOL) -- an online collection of book chapters, journal papers and cases on sustainability and social responsibility.

If your business is interested in sustainability and CSR (and damn it you should be!) then this looks an extremely valuable resource.

In browsing, I found this free guide: Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing sustainability at the heart of management education. PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) is an initiative to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally.

If you would like to know more about the SOL library then contact Holly at GSE Research and if you mention my name she will give you a free trial access and a discount on any subscription you may take out.

Upcoming Knowledge 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 India 2014
21 - 22 Feb 2014, Bangalore, India

3rd Conference on Value Adding Management of Knowledge, Innovation & Intellectual Capital (KICC 2014)
22 - 24 Feb 2014, Tehran, Iran

6th Iranian Knowledge Management Conference
25 - 26 Feb 2014, Tehran, Iran

Henley Forum Conference 2014
26 - 27 Feb 2014, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom

KM Middle East
10 - 12 Mar 2014, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

APQC's 2014 Knowledge Management Conference
07 - 11 Apr 2014, Houston, United States

4th International Action Learning Conference
14 - 16 Apr 2014, Berkhamsted, United Kingdom

The Middle East Leadership Communications Conference
21 - 22 Apr 2014, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
I will be speaking at this conference and running a workshop.

ASTD 2014 Conference
04 - 07 May 2014, Washington DC, United States

KM Legal 2014
14 - 15 May 2014, London, United Kingdom

KM UK 2014
11 - 12 Jun 2014, London, United Kingdom

KMICe2014 : Knowledge Management International Conference
12 - 15 Aug 2014, Langkawi Island, Malaysia

The 9th International KMO Conference (Knowledge Management in Organizations)
02 - 05 Sep 2014, Santiago, Chile

15th European Conference on Knowledge Management
04 - 05 Sep 2014, Santarém, Portugal

KM LatinAmerican 2014
20 - 24 Oct 2014, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM World 2014
04 - 07 Nov 2014, Washington DC, United States

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2014

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for January 2014 to February 2014. 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.

  • The only reason to come together face-to-face is for people to be in conversation with each other @NancyMDixon http://bit.ly/YJHM5A

  • Disruptive innovation, conversation, requires no enterprise social media, no 2-yr IT project, no so-called management http://bit.ly/1c9v9Vc

  • Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively http://bit.ly/aXO54c #KM

  • For authentic conversation there is no million dollar budget, no fancy PowerPoints on ‘culture', no software ... http://bit.ly/1c9v9Vc

  • Is it the stories being told that define who your company really is and what it believes in? http://huff.to/1nxSx49

  • People when making decisions in groups spend most of their time telling each other things that everyone already knows http://bit.ly/aXO54c

  • Most corporate communications are too polished to be convincing http://huff.to/1nxSx49

  • Imagine KM without richness of authentic conversation, diverse opinions, original ideas, deliberate serendipity http://bit.ly/1nxOtkx #KM

  • A Different Way to Acquire Lessons Learned in Knowledge Management @PaulJCorney http://bit.ly/1g5zDkB

  • Creating participatory conferences - challenging the assumptions http://bit.ly/pTR4um

  • It's Too Quiet, We Need to Talk More http://bit.ly/hPVagy #GurteenTalk

  • Dilbert on checking email while having a conversation http://bit.ly/1c9wjjB

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

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

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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 Henley 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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