Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 156 - June 2013


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 156 - June 2013


  1. Introduction to the June 2013 Knowledge Letter
  2. To improve learning - don't speak or write with conviction
  3. Can you really optimise an organisation's performance?
  4. Knowledge Management Initiatives in the Public Sector in Singapore and Dubai
  5. My daughter Lauren is a writer and a lover of stories
  6. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2013
  7. Upcoming Events
  8. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  9. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the June 2013 Knowledge Letter

The Gurteen Knowledge Community Group on LinkedIn has grown to almost 4,000 members and is one of the more active of the KM LinkedIn groups. There are a number of interesting threads but if you are interested in why various people got involved in Knowledge Management then take a look at Does anyone mind sharing WHY they went into Knowledge Management?

You can join LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join and the Gurteen Knowledge Community Group here : http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1539

I'll be at KM UK this week in London and look forward to seeing a few of you there.

I'll be running a Knowledge Cafe at the end the first day. Given that all the research says rewards are ineffective, if not downright harmful, I will be asking if we should still be using rewards to motivate knowledge sharing.

I will be setting the context for the KCafe using a re-mixed YouTube video that I have created that includes video clips from Alfie Kohn, Dan Pink and a scene from the American version of "The Office". If you have not taken a look at the YouTube video editor yet, it is a powerful tool and exceptionally easy to use. I can see myself using it a lot more in the future.

I have only ever trigged a Knowledge Cafe with a video once or twice in the past so this is a bit of an experiment. I will release the video after the event.

To improve learning - don't speak or write with conviction

I came across this blog post by Nancy Dixon recently Bringing the Flow of Knowledge to a Standstill by Speaking with Conviction in which she says
One way of talking that inhibits the exchange of knowledge is speaking with conviction.

That may seem contrary to what we've all learned in communication and leadership workshops, where one of the lessons often taught is to speak with confidence- “sound like you mean it”.

Yet, as I examine conversations in the work setting, stating an idea with conviction tends to send a signal to others that the speaker is closed to new ideas.

When speaking with conviction people sound as though no other idea is possible, as though the answer is, or should be, obvious.

I agree with Nancy. I think even when we are totally convinced that what we believe is true, it serves no useful purpose to say it with great conviction other than to annoy people. If you wish to convince someone then you have got be open to being shown to be wrong or to discover that you are talking at cross-purposes.

Several people have told me over the years that when see someone doing or saying something wrong that they just to have topoint it out to them in no uncertain terms- that they "have to learn".

Now this might make them feel good but in my experience and from what I can see from the behavioural research it does not work. It only serves to harden their opinions and increase their dislike of you. If you wish to convince someone then you have to be open to a two way conversation of equals.

Nancy's post also reminds me of the work of Ellen Langer and her book The Power of Mindful Learning. Ellen is a professor of psychology at Harvard University and her behavioural research challenges many myths about learning.
One of the pervading views in education is that in order to learn a skill one must practice until the action takes place without thought. Performing a skill over and over again so that it becomes second nature may lead to thoughtless or mindless interaction with the skill or concept. Mindlessness is a hindrance to discovery. Discovery often occurs because of a variance of the "basics".

Teaching in a conditional manner allows the learner to recognize that there may be varying situations that require a varied response. Teachers often eliminate factors that would lead students away from the "correct" outcome. We come to learn that events occur in a predictable manner and lose sight of some of the factors that contribute to the outcome. For example, physics students are instructed to neglect friction for most of the situations they deal with. This produces a discrepancy between actual and theoretical results and may dampen a students ability to see distinctions.

Research has shown that information presented conditionally versus in absolute form enhances the creativity of the students. In a study done by Alison Piper, groups of students were given information on a set of objects conditionally and in absolute form. The students that were given the information conditionally had a tendency to be more creative than the students that had the information presented in absolute form.

The standard approach to teaching new skills rely on either lecturing to instruct students or using direct experience to instruct students. Ellen Langer proposes a third approach which she calls "sideways learning". Sideways learning involves maintaining a mindful state that is characterized by openness to novelty, alertness to distinction, sensitivity to different contexts, awareness of multiple perspectives, and orientation in the present. The standard approach involves breaking down a task into discrete parts which may stifle novelty and alertness to distinction. Sideways learning makes it possible to create unlimited categories and distinctions. The distinctions are essential to mindfulness.

Langer asks and answers the question, "Can a text teach mindfully?" She gives examples of obscure tax code and the ability of students to apply the code to a variety of situations. Students that read the section of tax code in its original language had a more difficult time adjusting to situations that weren't spelled out in the code. The group of the students that studied the code that was slightly altered with "could be" and "possibly" instead of "is" were more successful in application.

So her research shows that writing with conviction also hinders learning

The lesson here is that contrary to popular belief if you wish people to learn from you than do not speak or write with conviction!

Can you really optimise an organisation's performance?

A pet peeve: I squirm whenever I read an article or an ad that talks about "maximising profits" or "minimising costs" or "optimising performance". For me, the author's credibility drops through the floor.

You may be able to optimise the performance of a machine but in the complex social as world, it is impossible to minimise, maximise or optimise anything there are always unintended consequences, trade-offs and balances.

You may be able to increase worker productivity by putting them under pressure or cut costs by paying them less but when they leave the organisation as a result, you lose valuable knowledge and experience and incur hiring and training costs. There is a balance to be struck and there can never be any optimisation as such.

Talking about optimising the performance of your organisation makes no sense - even if you had optimised performance - how would you ever possibly know?

The word these authors should be using is "improving" but "optimising" your performance sounds so much grander than merely improving it!

Knowledge Management Initiatives in the Public Sector in Singapore and Dubai

An excellent new book Knowledge Management Initiatives in Singapore has been recently published by two good friends of mine Margaret Tan and Madan Rao.

Margaret Tan is the Associate Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Madan Rao is a KM author and consultant based in Bangalore.

The book focuses on 12 organisations from the Singapore Public sector that won the knowledge management excellence awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010 run by the Information and Knowledge Management Society of Singapore
  • Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA)
  • National Library Board (NLB)
  • Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
  • Ministry of Finance (MOF)
  • Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)
  • Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)
  • Supreme Court of Singapore (SC)
  • Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS)
  • Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC)
  • Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC)
  • Singapore Police Force: Police Technology Department (SPF-PTD)
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
The book shares the knowledge, experiences, perspectives and practical learning of these organisations' KM journeys.

You will find more information about the book here, including the forward by Dave Snowden

You may also be interested in this report that looks at Public Sector KM initiatives in Dubai: Knowledge Management in the UAE's Public Sector: The Case of Dubai by Mhamed Biygautane and Khalid Al-Yahya of the Dubai School of Government.

Whenever, I visit Dubai I can't help but draw comparisons with Singapore but I am sure I only see the surface similarities. This article Dubai vs Singapore - Economy written in 2010 gives a more in depth analysis. It would be interesting to compare the approach to KM in the two public sectors.

My daughter Lauren is a writer and a lover of stories

I have two daughters who love to write and both love cats, hence their blogs: The Curious Cat and The Cafe Cat

My daughter Lauren aka the Curious Cat clearly gets what a blog is all about as evidenced in a post at the start of the year. Here is an extract:
... I've always been good at keeping a diary or in recent years - a blog. There are few rules to keeping a diary. It is personal so you can write how you want. You can go off on tangents, leave untied ends ... a diary is not a work of art that needs to be tailored and edited.

It is a collection of musings and thoughts ... it is like the mathematical workings out on a page before you reach the answer ... and sometimes you never reach the answer. It suits my wondering brain just fine. Even as I write these words I have no idea when I will draw a close to this entry.

If I grow bored and fancy switching to another task I'll wrap things up rapido. If I'm feeling more thoughtful I'll work a little harder to shape the words into a nice general conclusion.

... I write for me and me alone. I write because it clears my head, I write because it helps me to explore my thoughts and feelings - like that mathematical equation simile I just made.

I write because I enjoy it, it makes me happy. It is my hobby and I like how it compliments my life. I will dare to call myself a writer even if I have no backlist of 'serious' work to support the claim.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2013

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for May to June 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 UK 2013
26 - 27 Jun 2013, London, United Kingdom
I will be running a Knowlege Cafe at KM UK this year on the subject of "should we reward knowledge sharing"?

How Does The Pace Of Innovation Affect The Quality Of Creativity?
02 Jul 2013, London, United Kingdom

Knowledge by Walking About
09 Jul 2013, London, United Kingdom

KM Australia Congress 2013
23 - 25 Jul 2013, Sydney, Australia
This will be a conversational event once again this year.

Resilient Knowledge Management Practice (Prof. Development Certificate)
12 - 16 Aug 2013, Slough, United Kingdom

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

International Conference on Knowledge Economy icke2013
28 - 30 Oct 2013, Cape Town, South Africa

The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM 2013)
01 - 02 Nov 2013, Montréal, Canada

KMWorld 2013
06 - 08 Nov 2013, Washington DC, United States

KM Asia 2013
12 - 14 Nov 2013, Singapore, Singapore

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
Friday 19 July 2024
03:11 AM GDT