Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 171 - September 2014


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 171 - September 2014


  1. Introduction to the September 2014 Knowledge Letter
  2. Ray Ozzie launchesTalko - an app for collaborative voice communications
  3. Group Think & Group Polarization
  4. Randomised Coffee Trials get hotter
  5. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2014
  6. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  7. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  8. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the September 2014 Knowledge Letter

You may have noticed that some Knowledge Letter's are long, others are short. It's a function of how busy I have been during the month - the busier I have been, the shorter the newsletter and the later in the month it gets published :-)

This is a short one on account of two weeks in Indonesia. It was mainly holiday with my wife Leni but I got to run three Knowledge Cafes on Conversational Leadership while there.

A big thanks to everyone I met, especially Rusnita Saleh for all her help in organising the KCafes and my apologies for all those I did not have time to meet but I'll be back,

Ray Ozzie launchesTalko - an app for collaborative voice communications

Those of you who know me - know I used to work for Lotus Development and of my involvement with Lotus Notes My website and this newsletter for example, are brought to you courtesy of code I have developed in Lotus Notes (I am still a techy at heart!)

You may also know of Ray Ozzie, the creator of Lotus Notes who went on to create Groove (another amazing collaborative application) that was later acquired by Microsoft.

Ray was named chief software architect at Redmond in 2006, ultimately taking over software strategy from Bill Gates, who stepped aside in 2008. Ray left Microsoft in 2010.

Well it seems Ray has been hard at work on his third startup Talko. Talko is a fascinating new app for the iPhone. Take a look at how Ray introduces his new baby here Welcome to Talko! - especially this segment (may emphasis in bold):

I passionately believe that there's immense latent potential in voice -- to convey tone and emotion, to quickly resolve issues, to make decisions and to get things done.

There's simply no faster and no more effective way to express essential emotions such as urgency, anxiety, understanding, confidence or trust.

Quite simply, amazing things can happen when we just choose to talk.

Looks like Ray and I feel the same about the power of voice and of the importance of conversation :-)

This is how TechCrunch describes the app:
Talko ... replaces your usual conference line with VOIP, cloud-based calls between team members. The app records the entire live conversation to make it accessible to those who can't tune in while it's going on. It also enables users to create bookmarks within the conversation and tag other users with action items.

Perhaps most importantly, the conversation doesn't end when a particular call is over. Any member of the team can start a new call or add voice-based follow ups to the conversation, and they will be shared asynchronously with the rest of the participants. By doing so, it makes certain that everyone is on the same page, whether they were able to call in or not. Users in a group can also add text and photos in line with the conversation, which get shared with all participants.

Credit: TechCrunch

I have many great tele-conversations with people and have long wished to record them in a useful way to play back later and reflect on the ideas and insights that surface and that are so often forgotten. Talko seems to be a great way of doing this and so much more.

If you have an iPhone - connect with me - I need a few people to chat with to experiment with the app.

Group Think & Group Polarization

Two of the biggest challenges facing group conversation are how to overcome Group Think and Group Polarization .
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Group polarization refers to the tendency for groups to make decisions that are more extreme than the initial inclination of its members.

These more extreme decisions are towards greater risk if individuals' initial tendencies are to be risky and towards greater caution if individuals' initial tendencies are to be cautious.

Randomised Coffee Trials get hotter

I am still very excited about Randomised Coffee Trials and their potential in organizations for connecting people, building relationships and delivering all sorts of serendipitous outcomes.

I mentioned RCTs in a video talk on KM that I gave as part of a United Nations Volunteers (UNV) KM Workshop in Bonn last March and Shaun Hazeldine of the The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) picked up on the idea and has started running them.

What they are doing is fantastic! They started RCTs about 10 weeks ago and currently have 400 people from 70+ countries signed up and it grows every day by 5 - 10 people. They run it in 5 languages and it seems feedback from the first round is overwhelmingly positive. They have 17 million volunteers and 400,000 staff so there is a lot of space for growth yet.

Recently I also got in touch with Michael Soto - one of the co-inventors of the RCT concept. I am pleased I did as I discovered he had left Nesta to form Spark Collaboration to take all the admin hassle out of running RCTs

So its getting all quite exciting. So much so I have created a resource page on my website for RCTs. This is the current contents:

A Randomised Coffee Trial or RCT for short is a rather fancy name for an incredibly simple idea.

RCTs are used to connect people in an organization at random and give them time to meet to have a coffee and talk about whatever they wish.

The original idea was inspired by Pedro Medina and developed by Michael Soto and Jon Kingsbury of Nesta UK in 2013. Nesta is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life.

An RCT can be run in a wide variety of ways but one way is like this.

Anyone interested in taking part, sends an email to a central address and asks to be randomly connected with someone else in the organization.

An administrator collects these requests and enters them into a specially designed spreadsheet that matches people at random.

Some organizations use a simpler technique like drawing names from a hat or use more sophisticated software that automatically does the matching. (See the commercial services listed below.)

The administrator then tells the person with whom they have been connected.

It is then up to them to get in touch with that person and organise a 30 minute chat over coffee.

It need not be a coffee - it could be tea, lunch or dinner. What ever works best for them.

Better still, in a geographically dispersed organization - the meeting could be a virtual one say over Skype.

This is what Nesta says about the benefits
  • Provides legitimacy to chat to people about things that aren't directly work related. Although every time there have been direct beneficial impacts on various projects and programmes.

  • Totally random conversations, as well as some very useful work related conversations. Breaks silos at Nesta in a really effective way.

  • Offers the chance to make time to talk to people they should be talking to anyway, and to meet people who they won't be directly working with but it's nice to know who they are!

  • It's a really good way of revealing links within the organisation and encouraging us to collaborate. It's interesting that being part of the wider 'RCT' banners gives permission to spend and honour the time. Less likely to cancel a catch up if it's an RCT coffee than a social catch up on a busy day.

  • They like the prompt to talk to someone new (or someone they already know), and the permission to take 30 minutes just to see what's going on, without any particular agenda or goal.
See more at: Institutionalising Serendipity via Productive Coffee Breaks

As of September 2014
in various languages explain how the Red Cross Red Crescent are using them globally via Skype.

Some early feedback from the Red Cross Red Crescent trials

  • I came to know that in Austria students are teaching the way of building disaster shelters as well as awareness in hygiene promotion and disaster where in my country it's such a technical session we have not introduced in schools. But I realized this is a very good practice and of course I will introduce it here in Bangladesh also.

  • It was a great experience and I think we definitely will connect again! We also exchanged email IDs to keep each other posted on new youth developments specifically (since we're both involved in youth work).

  • I have a coffee partner from Trinidad and Tobago. She is a volunteer leader overseeing Red Cross activities for children and teachers in her District. She is so passionate about her work! I was very inspired and will have our next meeting next month

  • The first round went remarkably well, as I was paired up with a brilliant woman from Australia who provided me with a good picture of the Australian Red Cross and general Australian civil services; amazingly, our different countries have very similar strategies in our communities! We're also planning on keeping in contact with one another for fun / for cultural education (including Red Cross information)

  • I wanted you to know that I just did the first coffee meeting at 6am this morning before work and it was such a lovely way to start the day! Great idea to link up volunteers and staff from different national societies. As well as a good chat, we both learnt a fair bit and hope to maintain the connection.

  • What were the chances that I got connected with someone who shared the same name with me! We had a wonderful chat...I am looking forward to my next "hook up" :).

  • Thank you for providing the opportunity to share and forge links with other volunteers world wide. I had my first virtual coffee trial today and it was an awesome experience. Discussing our work and sharing our experiences just added the right flavor to what we do regardless of the distance. We are not alone . We have a voice. Thank you. Looking forward to the Second Round.

There are a number of commercial organizations that provide an RCT type service:

Spark Collaboration from Trackmind on Vimeo.

This is how Spark Collaboration describes their RCT service: "Spark is a simple tool to help people meet. Colleagues who spend time socializing are more innovative and more productive. The problem is, it's hard to socialize with people you don't already know. That's why Spark was built. It's a tool that introduces people who work together and invites them to meet for lunch or coffee."

Footnote: Where did that seemingly crazy name Randomised Coffee Trails come from? Well its a play on the concept of Randomised Control Trials. Ben Goldacre of Nesta talks a little about them here in this post on his launch of Randomise Me - a free online trials generator.

Further Reading:

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: September 2014

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for August to September 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 real task of leadership is to confront people with their freedom. Peter Block http://bit.ly/1DzmICV #GurteenTalk

  • The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization. Sigmund Freud

  • Ray Ozzie Launches App to Get People Talking Again http://on.mash.to/1pu8qZL

  • Powerful questions are those that, in the answering, evoke a choice for accountability and commitment. Peter Block http://bit.ly/1DzmICV

  • Communities are human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness. Peter Block http://bit.ly/1DzmICV #GurteenTalk

  • It is just coffee, but at the same time it is much more http://bit.ly/YCXvre #RCTS

  • A sign of wisdom: having strong opinions, weakly held. @psaffo, via @work_matters

  • The brain, the Internet and the future of work @EskoKilpi http://bit.ly/1q6uX3L

  • Professor Michael Roberto's Blog: Why We Don't Seek Advice, but We Should! http://bit.ly/1peUGl5

  • What is really achieved with 50 to 100 people in a room, a presenter and then questions from the floor? Nothing. http://bit.ly/1lk3vPJ

  • Casually occupying yourself as you putter around an idea increases the quality of ideas http://read.bi/WY0oCn

  • What does research tell us about the effectiveness of lectures?" @DrTonyBates http://bit.ly/1p1D414

  • The Chemistry Of Conversations | Steps & Leaps http://bit.ly/1kL6WP0

  • What is conversation? How can we design for effective conversation? http://bit.ly/1v0B8Xe #GurteenTalk

  • Is Silence a “Dangerous” Tool in Communication? http://bit.ly/XgJ1wN #GurteenTalk

  • Can a machine connect two strangers over coffee? http://bit.ly/1lDsg44 #GurteenTalk

  • A beautiful question ... can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something ... @GlimmerGuy http://bit.ly/1tZPbP3 #GurteenTalk

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.

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

Knowledge Management Singapore
01 - 03 Oct 2014, MacPherson, Singapore

Transparency and Open Data Agenda
Thu 02 Oct 2014, London, United Kingdom

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

IKMAP 2014
09 - 10 Oct 2014, Bangkok, Thailand

Creative Bangkok Week 2014
12 - 18 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

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