Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 224 - February 2019


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 224 - February 2019


  1. Introduction to the February 2019 Knowledge Letter
  2. Could you have saved Rotterdam from destruction?
  3. Please help support my work
  4. Are we having the conversation we need to be having?
  5. How do we to transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures?
  6. What are the unintended consequences of what you are doing right now?
  7. Join the Conversational Leaders Forum
  8. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2019
  9. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  10. Unsubscribe
  11. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the February 2019 Knowledge Letter

I am pleased to announce that Nancy Dixon, John Hovell and I are running a 3-day residential workshop on Conversational Leadership in the UK this autumn. You will find full details here.

We have an amazing venue - the Elevetham - a Victorian Gothic Mansion set in an estate of 4,000 acres in the Hampshire countryside and a history dating back to the 11th century.

We have kept the price exceedingly low to make it easy for you to participate - the early bird price only just covers our cost.

Do take a look and get in touch with me, if you have any questions.

Could you have saved Rotterdam from destruction?

I recently wrote a post in my blook Knowledge is not power. This little hypothetical story by Arie de Geus from his1999 book The Living Company:Growth sums up the concept in an intriguing manner.

Imagine that it is 1920 and you have somehow been granted absolute power to predict the future. You happen to visit the mayor of Rotterdam and, during that time, you describe in vivid detail what is going to happen to his town over the next 25 years.

Thus, in an otherwise perfectly normal working day, the mayor hears about the advent of the Weimar Republic, hyperinflation, the 1929 stock exchange crash, the Great Depression that followed, the rise of Nazism in Germany with its (for Rotterdam) damaging economic policy of autarchy, the outbreak of the second world war, the carpet bombing of the town's city centre and, finally, the systematic destruction of the town's port installation during the calamitous winter of 1945.

The mayor listens to this information placidly. He gives every sign of believing you. And then he asks, “If you were in my shoes, hearing all of this, amid all the other opinions and facts that reach me during the course of my day, what would you reasonably expect me to do about this information?“

What is it reasonable to expect the mayor to do? When I ask this question in discussion groups, we always reach the same answer: there is nothing the mayor can be expected to do. Even if he gives your prediction a higher degree of credibility than most of the other information which reached him, he would have neither the courage nor the powers of persuasion to take the far-reaching decision that is required by such a prediction.

The future cannot be predicted. But, even if it could, we would not dare to act on the prediction.

Now suppose a time traveller returned to the present day from 2120 and told us in graphic detail what was to become of the world as a consequence of global warming. We already have a pretty good idea of the consequences but now we know for sure. Would it make any difference whatsoever?

Even with perfect knowledge. Even if we could accurately predict the future, more often than not, we do not have the ability to act on that knowledge.

Knowledge is not power. The self-motivation and the ability to act on knowledge and to influence and work with people (especially those in authority) is power.

How do we each improve our agency to act? This is the question that consumes my thinking right now.

Please help support my work

I have been writing and publishing this Knowledge Letter every month for over 17 years and most of you have been receiving it for 5 years or more. My Knowledge Café also had its 16th birthday last September.

If you enjoy it and find it valuable, please consider giving me a little support by donating $1 (or more) a month to Become a Patron.

I am not going to get rich on this but it will help cover some of my website hosting expenses.

I have 45 patrons so far. A big thanks to you all.

Are we having the conversation we need to be having?

If you are a podcast fan, you may enjoy this one Are we having the conversation we need to be having? where John Hovell and Priya Farish talk with me about Conversational Leadership and we explore what it takes to have a real conversation.

You will find 14 other fascinating podcasts there too.

How do we to transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures?

I love writing. I love quotations. I love serendipity. And I love it when they all come together.

In writing my blook, I am continually updating posts, often with quotations that I have tripped over while browsing the web, researching some topic or another.

Recently, I was thinking about love and evil and my mind went back to the work of Scott Peck, and so I went to my Gurteen Knowledge website as I knew I had some material there on the subject.

I was right; here was Scotts definition of love. But as I scrolled down, I found more quotes I had clipped over 15 years ago and had long forgotten about including a quote on community that was perfect for the introductory post to my emerging chapter on Community.

Here is the quote, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. So how do you think we can transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures? Is it needed? Is it possible? Personally, I think it is the key to our future and that we start by "talking with each other more".

We know the rules of community; we know the healing effect of community in terms of individual lives.

If we could somehow find a way across the bridge of our knowledge, would not these same rules have a healing effect upon our world?

We human beings have often been referred to as social animals. But we are not yet community creatures.

We are impelled to relate with each other for our survival.

But we do not yet relate with the inclusivity, realism, self-awareness, vulnerability, commitment, openness, freedom, equality, and love of genuine community.

It is clearly no longer enough to be simply social animals, babbling together at cocktail parties and brawling with each other in business and over boundaries.

It is our task - our essential, central, crucial task - to transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures.

It is the only way that human evolution will be able to proceed.

Credit: The Different Drum, M. Scottt Peck

What are the unintended consequences of what you are doing right now?

I was recently asked, along with others, to comment on a regional digital transformation strategy. Now, this is an area in which I have no real expertise and the other experts gave some fascinating input to the discussion.

I kept my feedback simple:
Several people have mentioned this already and that is the need for vastly improved cyber-security, data protection and regulation in its broadest sense.

Digital transformation is creating a hyper-connected, massively complex digital economy.

A complex system by its very nature is impossible to understand fully. It is volatile and unpredictable.

This brings unprecedented risk and in my opinion, should be foremost in our minds as we race at times blindly into the future.

There are always unintended consequences of innovation especially in complex systems.

I often wonder if the pioneers of the industrial revolution, ever, for one minute considered the unintended consequences of the burning of fossil fuels or to what extent the founders of the Internet considered the long term security threat.

A conversation we should have every day: "What are the likely unintended consequences of what we are doing?" The consequences are not always obvious, but they are frequently not so deep that a good conversation won't reveal many of them.

Join the Conversational Leaders Forum

If you are a reader of my blook or have an interest in Conversational Leadership, you may like to know that I have recently created a group on LinkedIn to discuss both my blook and the subject more generally.

Over 100 people have signed-up so far and I hope to get some "interesting conversations" started there soon.

Do come along and join me.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: February 2019

Here are some of my more popular recent tweets. 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 most effective form of sustainable leadership is developed through effective and meaningful informal discussions (i.e., conversations) with others, which help them develop their thinking and new insight.” https://buff.ly/2GZiPAF #ConversationalLeadership #leadership

  • A leader is not necessarily a senior person in the organization, nor is it a hierarchical position, it is a decision people at any level of the organization make to start impacting the people around them. https://buff.ly/2GZiPAF #ConversationalLeadership #leadership

  • 7 Differences between complex and complicated | More Beyond https://buff.ly/2Xd6gai #KM #KMers #KnowledgeManagement #ConversationalLeadership #KnowledgeCafe #complexity

  • The Talking Revolution is an initiative to improve the quality of human connection worldwide. It's a revolution that anyone can initiate, whoever and wherever they are. https://buff.ly/2BMyiAB #TalkingRevolution #ConversationalLeadership

  • The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them #ConversationalLeadership https://buff.ly/2BKcg1k

  • The Untapped Power Of Smiling https://buff.ly/2Gwa69q /smile more, live longer? #Smile

  • Are we having the conversation we need to be having? https://buff.ly/2tnjOT8 #KM #KMers #KnowledgeManagement #ConversationalLeadership /John Hovell @klowey22 and Priya Farish talk with me about Conversational Leadership

  • This is not bad education. This is anti-education. Don't write what you don't believe, or you will come to believe it. https://t.co/jSYTQzGLge

  • When did you last connect with someone so deeply that it changed your life, changed your mind, shifted your perspective, grew your world? https://buff.ly/2EuVVvX #ConversationalLeadership /Has it ever happened?

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.

Henley Forum annual conference
06 - 07 Mar 2019, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom

CII Knowledge Summit 2019
07 - 08 Mar 2019, Bangalore, India

KM Showcase 2019: Beyond the Theory
04 - 05 Apr 2019, Arlington, VA, United States

KM Asia
09 - 10 Apr 2019, Hong Kong, China

24th Annual Knowledge Management Conference
29 Apr - 03 May 2019, Houston, United States

10th European Conference on Intangibles and Intellectual Capital
23 - 24 May 2019, Pescara, Italy

Social Now 2019
06 Jun 2019 - 07 Jun 2017, Lisbon, Portugal

Chief Learning Officers & Influencers Forum, Spring
11 - 13 Jun 2019, Scottsdale, United States

6th European Conference on Social Media
13 - 14 Jun 2019, Brighton, United Kingdom

TAKE 2019
03 Jul - 05 Jan 2019, Vienna, Austria

20th European Conference on Knowledge Management
05 - 06 Sep 2019, lisbon, Portugal

14th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
19 - 20 Sep 2019, Kalamata, Greece


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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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