THE GURTEEN KNOWLEDGE-LETTER (ISSUE 5, 9 OCTOBER 2000)
Welcome to the fifth issue of the Gurteen Knowledge-Letter. This
newsletter now goes out to over 800 people. If you have not done
so already, please, if you have a few moments, drop me an e-mail
to let me know what you think and if you have colleagues whom
you feel would like to receive it also - forward this copy to
them and suggest they sign up.
1 - Quotation: On Learning
2 - Project Management
3 - Lotus QuickPlace
4 - Book Review: Managing Knowledge Workers
5 - Influential People
6 - People: Charles Handy
7 - Quick Clicks
8 - The Merging of E-Learning and Knowledge Management
9 - Knowledge Working Tip: Edit your Email Subject lines
10 - Events
QUOTATION: ON LEARNING
Learning can easily be taken for granted. It is sometimes
thought of as something you come away with having attended a
training course. But true learning is far more. I like what
Peter Senge has to say about learning in his book "The Fifth
"Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human.
Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we
become able to do something we never were able to do. Through
learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it.
Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of
the generative process of life. There is within each of us a
deep hunger for this type of learning."
Quotations are extremely effective at capturing and concisely
communicating thoughts and ideas. They can be inspirational and
help us reveal and assess the assumptions underlying our modes
of perception and thought. My web site has over 100 quotations
and short excerpts. A shorter list of about 50 can be found at:
The nature of projects and project management is rapidly
changing - no more so than in knowledge based organisations and
professional service firms. Traditionally, a person may have
been assigned full-time to a single project. Increasingly,
however, in knowledge based organisations, this is rare, people
have many projects to multiplex.
In the past, projects tended to be sequential: a rigorous
requirement analysis was undertaken; a specification or detailed
plan drawn up and signed off on before work commenced. On
completion of the work, if the project resulted in a product or
service, it would enter a limited testing period before release.
The project itself would be tightly managed to a fixed budget
and fixed ship date. Both of which were rarely met! Or if they
were - it was at the cost of quality.
Today it is rarely like that. Projects are not rigorously
analysed up front. Implementation and review are an incremental,
iterative process. Continual refinement of the business
requirements and the solution (increasingly a technology-based
one) is essential. Deadlines and budgets are not so sacrosanct.
Shipping a basic high quality solution early, learning from it
and then frequently revving it - is the norm.
Not only is the nature of projects changing. Not only are people
involved in more than one project. But the numbers of projects
themselves are proliferating. Driving and managing anything
within an organisation is done with a project mindset.
Projects today are fast and fluid. In the past Pert charts and
Gantt charts were the project manager's prime tools. Tight
control was the name of the game. Today more flexible
collaborative knowledge sharing tools are needed as the project
deliverables and time scales frequently change. What is now
important - if not essential - is the management of the project
knowledge; to incorporate learning into every stage of the
project; to build in frequent reviews; to involve all
stakeholders, to communicate more broadly. It is more about
knowledge management than traditional project management -
especially when products are increasingly intangible "knowledge
We need new mindsets, new tools and new methodologies to cope
with the change. Here are some resources that introduce you to
some of these new ways of thinking and working and to provoke
you to re-asses how you run projects in your organisation. Lotus
QuickPlace is one such tool.
See resources on project management:
Increasingly today, the project metaphor is being used to
organize activity within organizations. If something needs
doing, often a cross-functional project team is quickly set up
to tackle the issue. The problem is - "how to co-ordinate the
team and provide rapid response?" when the team members are
based in different locations - often in different countries and
rarely if ever meet face to face.
One very good solution is Lotus QuickPlace. QuickPlace lets you
establish shared work spaces on the Internet or an intranet
through which geographically dispersed teams can collaborate on
a project-by-project basis. What's more you do not need to own
the product or install it on your own servers - you can rent the
application from several ASPs (Application Service Providers)
quite inexpensively. You can also trial it for 30 days on the
Lotus web site.
For full product details see:
For a UK based application service provider see:
BOOK REVIEW: MANAGING KNOWLEDGE WORKERS
Managing Knowledge Workers by Frances Horibe provides practical
advise for managing, motivating and retaining knowledge workers.
It focuses not only on understanding the value of knowledge in
an organization, but also on managing the human side of
intellectual capital - the knowledge workers themselves.
This is an interesting and useful book. It is a practical
down-to-earth guide for anyone managing or interacting with
knowledge workers in any field. It contains, for example,
chapters covering such topics as "Encouraging People to Learn",
"Managing Knowledge You Don't Understand" and "The Free Movement
of People and Knowledge". Important subjects that you will not
find addressed in many other books on knowledge management.
The book has a number of imaginary dialogues between "manager"
and "worker" that serve as practical examples of how best to
approach a particular issue. Many of these are good but
sometimes they come across as being a little trite or overly
simplistic. Despite this, however, the underlying message is
usually of value.
I would highly recommend the book as a guide to any newly
appointed manager or as a mind-opener for experienced managers
who are finding it increasingly difficult to manage in the
traditional "command and control" style.
See the book:
There are many people who have influenced the world for the
better in a variety of ways - their influence often surviving
long after their death. Henry David Thoreau's work on Civil
Disobedience profoundly influenced Gandhi's non-violent civil
disobedience movement that won independence for India from the
British in 1948 almost 100 years after Thoreau's death. His work
also influenced Martin Luther King Jr's civil rights movement;
the opposition to the Vietnam War in the United States and to
recent demonstrations for civil rights in the former Soviet
Union and China.
I have posted information on a number of influential people such
as Thoreau on my web site but have also included modern day
business leaders, thinkers and consultants. At times they seem a
strange mix - from the famous, to the not so well known, to the
obscure. The point however, is that we all influence the world
in a variety of ways - some of us on a global scale and others
more locally - maybe just our business colleagues or our
families and friends. We can never not influence. Even when we
do nothing we are "communicating a message" by our inaction.
So in the same way that I include a short book review in each
edition of this knowledge-letter, I am starting to include a
regular section on an influential "person". As with most items -
my idea is not to write an essay but to write a little "taster
and point you to more extensive detail on the web. The first
person I have chosen is the British management thinker - Charles
Some of the people on my web site:
Henry David Thoreau:
PEOPLE: CHARLES HANDY
Charles Handy is widely recognised as Europe's best known and
most influential management thinker. He was born in Ireland in
1932 - the son of a Protestant clergyman. He says his home
background played an important key in his development: "It gave
me a slightly irreverent streak and a tendency to ask why?" He
is noted for his studies of organizations and his far reaching
ideas on the future work and business structures. He is the
author of several highly acclaimed business books, including
"The Hungry Spirit". He was educated at Oxford and worked as an
economist in the City of London. He states that his strongest
influence was Warren Bennis whom he met when at MIT. He has been
an executive with Shell International Oil Company and a
professor at the London School of Business. He launched and
directed the "Sloan Management Program" and his first book was
"Understanding Organizations" followed soon after by "Gods of
Management." More recently he has moved into non-managerial
fields of study, concerning himself with ethics, values and
corporate issues beyond the bottom line.
See more about Charles Handy
See: The Hungry Spirit
This month's quick clicks are all Knowledge Management links:
Karl Sveiby's Knowledge Management
Lotus Development Knowledge Management
Microsoft Knowledge Management
David Skyrme Associates
Knowledge Research Institute (Karl Wiig)
THE MERGING OF E-LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
There has been a huge surge in e-learning products and
technology over the past 12 months. What fascinates me is the
similarity in the objectives of e-learning and knowledge
management. Both are trying to support knowledge workers by
helping them develop and make better use of their knowledge.
Knowledge Management is about sharing every day business
knowledge between people to help them work more effectively.
E-learning is a more formal approach allowing people to learn
critical knowledge relevant to their work as an when they need
it on-line. Not only are the objectives very close but so is the
supporting collaborative and information sharing technology.
If you would like to learn more about this convergence take a
look at the article "A Smarter Frankenstein: The Merging of
e-learning and Knowledge Management" by Tom Barron on the
Learning Circuits web site.
See The Merging of E-Learning and Knowledge Management by Tom
See some E-Learning sites:
KNOWLEDGE WORKING TIP: EDIT YOUR EMAIL SUBJECT LINES
Most of us suffer from e-mail overload but we are all to blame.
We all send unnecessary e-mails and one simple suggestion is for
us to think twice before we send an e-mail and either reduce the
length of the distribution list or simply not send the e-mail at
But another problem is that of finding "the needle in the
haystack". You know you have an e-mail somewhere on your system
but you simply cannot find it. You may perform a "full-text"
search and have a dozen or more e-mails display in your search
results list but you still cannot quickly tell which is the one
you are searching for as the e-mail subject lines are more often
than not meaningless
We can all help each other here, first when we send an e-mail we
can think carefully for a moment about the subject line and make
it meaningful. If we are asking a question - we can put the
question in the subject line. If its a short reply - we can put
the reply in the subject line or a condensed version of the
But better still when we forward an e-mail or reply to an e-mail
- we can edit the subject line to make it meaningful.
Most e-mails that are sent as replies have totally meaningless
or misleading subject lines. Take a look at your own in-box and
you will see what I mean. e.g. "Re: Acme Project Meeting" when
the body of the e-mail has got nothing to do with any meeting
whatsoever - it just so happens that that was the title of the
e-mail to which you were replying.
Editing our subject lines not only helps our recipients find our
e-mails more quickly - it also helps us find them more easily
when we search our own "sent" folder.