Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 169 - July 2014


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 169 - July 2014


  1. Introduction to the July 2014 Knowledge Letter
  2. Is PowerPoint evil or is it a strategic tool?
  3. Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations
  4. Intimate Conversations Cafe: What would you like engraved on your tombstone?
  5. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2014
  6. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  7. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  8. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the July 2014 Knowledge Letter

I did not know 15 years or so ago when I started to travel the world with my work that I would make so many wonderful friends and learn so much about other cultures and religions. Least of all to find myself a beautiful Indonesian wife.

During my travels, the most important thing I have learnt is that despite our different languages, cultures and religions, we all have similar fears, insecurities, hopes and aspirations. It's what it means to be human and I have learnt to respect all people.

And so with the ending of Ramadan I would like to wish all my Muslim friends and readers of this knowledge letter Eid Mubarak and to my Indonesian friends Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri.

Is PowerPoint evil or is it a strategic tool?

I started running my Knowledge Cafes in 2002 in response to my frustration with "Death by PowerPoint" presentations.

I thought that PowerPoint as it was commonly used was an ineffective way to teach people but I never thought it evil until a German friend put the thought in my mind when she sent me this article recently Der Powerpoint-Irrsinn (in German) which references an original article from 2003 (in English) by Edward Tufte PowerPoint Is Evil - Power Corrupts - PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.

In Googling the topic - I then quickly came across an article with a somewhat different point of view Is PowerPoint a Strategic Tool?

Take a read! So which is it - evil or strategic? I guess like most tools it all comes down to how you use it and what you use if for! Even I use a few PowerPoint slides in my Knowledge Cafes :-)

Smarter Socially Mediated Conversations

A few weeks back I was a keynote speaker at the European Conference on Social Media (ECSM 2014) conference.

I have been designing and hosting conversations in the form of knowledge cafes for the past 12 years or more. and during this time I have developed some simple principles that help ensure the engagement of the participants and the quality of the conversations.

My focus has always been on face-to-face conversations and not ones mediated through social media but during this time many people have asked me how to run virtual knowledge cafes or how to improve the way that people hold conversations online.

Online conversations are fraught with difficulties. Often they are an exchange of monologues - a series of highly crafted statements by the participants. They are not like normal face-to-face conversations and I would argue that they are not in fact conversations in the strictest sense of the word.

Misunderstandings abound; certain people dominate; trolls deliberately stir up trouble, intellectual arguments and fights break out and conversations rapidly become ad hominem. Quieter, more reflective people, people who favour dialogue over debate stay away or lurk silently in the background.

In my talk I reviewed what I've learnt about face-to-face conversation in developing my knowledge cafes and how the principles that underpin them might help improve socially mediated conversations.

The talk was videod and if and when I get a copy I hippo to share it with you but in the meantime here are the slides from my presentation.

Intimate Conversations Cafe: What would you like engraved on your tombstone?

Some years ago, I attended one of Theodore Zeldin's Conversation Dinners  in Oxford.

The dinner was quite fascinating - we sat in pairs, our partner had already been selected and as well as the dinner menu we were given a 'conversation menu' by Theodore.

For each course there were several questions about ourselves we could chose to discuss. We were instructed to only talk with our partners.

The questions were intended to help us discover what sort of person we were talking with, their ideas on different aspects of life, such as ambition, curiosity, fear, friendship and the relations of the sexes.

I enjoyed the experience so much that back in November 2005, I held an "Intimate Conversations" Cafe at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Then on 8th July 2014 (yes that's nearly 9 years later!) I ran another "Intimate Conversations" Cafe at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London.

During the evening, I paired people off with each other and give them a short list of questions from which they could choose to discuss.

The questions were designed to be open-ended and to give them the opportunity to reveal as much of their inner-selves to each other as they felt comfortable.

Here are three of the questions:
  • What are your earliest memories of your childhood?
  • What brings you greatest happiness when you think back on your life so far?
  • What would you like to be engraved on your tombstone?

I had 20 people - 10 pairs and as I knew from past experience that it is possible to be matched with someone whom you don't quite get on with- I broke the conversation into two 40 minute sessions.

I allowed people to have a 1:1 conversation for about 40 minutes and then told them to switch partners but if they really wished to carry on their conversation and stay with thie current partner they could.

Only 5 pairs (half the people) switched partner. I also let people select their partner - I did not do it for them randomly (that may or may not have been the best way).

We then came back together at the end in a circle for about 30 mins to share our thoughts on the Cafe - almost everyone engaged and was enthusiastic about the event.

What a great way to break down barriers: get people talking about themselves and give permission to go deeper and engage in a way that you would never normally do with a complete stranger.

Credit: Sally Gurteen,Senior Digital Communications Executive

I enjoyed the Intimate Conversations Cafe last night. One of the main things that struck me was how open complete strangers were with me about quite raw events in their life e.g. death when I was open with them. Maybe this is something we can learn from and adapt in a business environment to make them less of a battlefield?

Credit: Sara Culpin,Head of Information & Knowledge

I was later asked by someone who did not attend - whether it was transferable in-house to say use as an ice-breaker at the start of internal conferences or alongside Randomised Coffee Trials which was something I had not considered.

Reflecting on this, and reviewing the questions, I realised that questions like "Describe your perfect partner?" could become "Describe your perfect job?" and "When are you at your best?" could become "When do you do your best work?" So the answer is yes!

If you are interested, get in touch and I can send you the list of questions that I used.

This is a simple and effective way of allowing people to get to know each other better at a deeper level and is no where near as "scary" as it sounds. Although I had one person say that were not coming as they were not prepared to talk quite so intimately with a complete stranger.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2014

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for May to June 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.

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

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.

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 Brasil 2014
17 - 19 Sep 2014, Florianópolis - SC, Brasil

Social Business Collaboration 2014
28 - 30 Sep 2014, Berlin, Germany

19th Knowledge Management Tracks
06 Oct 2014, Milano, Italy

IKMAP 2014
09 - 10 Oct 2014, Bangkok, Thailand

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

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

11th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning – ICICKM 2014
06 - 07 Nov 2014, Sydney, Australia

LEARNTech Asia Conference 2014
13 - 14 Nov 2014, Singapore City, Singapore

KM Asia 2014
18 - 20 Nov 2014, Singapore City, Singapore

KM Russia 2014
27 - 28 Nov 2014, Moscow, Russia

30 Nov - 01 Dec 2014, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

7th Iranian Knowledge Management Conference
17 - 18 Feb 2015, Tehran, Iran

3rd International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
19 - 20 Mar 2015, Durban, South Africa

7th European Conference on Intellectual Capital
09 - 10 Apr 2015, Cartagena, Spain

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 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

Follow me on Twitter

How to contact me

My Blog

Gurteen Knowledge Community
The Gurteen Knowledge Community
The Gurteen Knowledge Community is a global learning community of over 21,000 people in 160 countries across the world.

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.
Knowledge Community


request help
visitor book
Tuesday 18 June 2024
11:59 PM GDT