Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 116 - February 2010


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 116 - February 2010


  1 Introduction to the February 2010 Knowledge Letter
  2 Don't do KM - Pursue the Goal Not the Method
  3 On data, information, knowledge and wisdom
  4 Burn all podiums!
  5 Tagging and face-to-face events
  6 Selling by giving
  7 Do not predict but experiment
  8 Women in Knowledge Management
  9 There are no solutions!
10 KM and Theory X thinking
11 Thoughts on KM Certification
12 KM Event Highlights
13 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
14 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the February 2010 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

You can find many inspirational talks on the web. If you have not discovered TED yet then check it out. Its an amazing resource.

But there are other talks too. Here are my two favorites. I have mentioned them both in the past but if you have not watched them - take the time - they are amazing talks by two people I suspect you know well. And if you have sons or daughters starting out in life encourage them to watch the videos also. I think they may get a lot from them.

Don't do KM - Pursue the Goal Not the Method    (top | next | prev)

I am a keen follow of Chris Brogran - he writes some insightful stuff.

I particularly liked this recent blog-post entitled Pursue the Goal Not the Method as it reminded me of what so many people do wrong with KM. They pursue KM for its own sake and ask questions like "How do you do KM?" Doing KM is not the goal. Responding to business objectives, problems, barriers, opportunities and risks is the goal. KM is just an affective approach.

In other words - merging the two tag lines: "Don't do KM - Pursue the Goal Not the Method"

Thanks Chris!

On data, information, knowledge and wisdom    (top | next | prev)

There has been much discussion on the web recently about the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom or DIKW hierarchy and it is described by Patrick Lambe as "that most hallowed of mental models and glib explanations".

Here is a little bit of reading for you. I have started with Patrick as I think he provides a very balanced view of the concept. Like most diagrams of this kind so much depends on how you interpret its meaning.

Personally, I have never thought of it as a model and have never tried to use it to describe any form of process of moving from one to the other. I have simply seen it as a pretty diagram and have used it when explaining the differences between, data, information and knowledge and in recent years dropped it from my slide-set.

Burn all podiums!    (top | next | prev)

Why oh why do we still use podiums at conferences? I was at a conference recently and there was no lapel mike available and no hand mike - just a fixed mike on the podium which meant I had to stand behind the damn thing, not walk around and not move my head too much. How can you relax and interact with your audience tied to the spot like that!

And then in South Africa, at a recent conference - again only a fixed mike on the podium but the podium was a large wooden one, at least four feet high maybe higher. Two of the African women who spoke were not much taller than the podium!

Take a look at the photo - yes there really is a speaker behind that podium! Crazy!

Burn all podiums! That's what I say :-)

Tagging and face-to-face events    (top | next | prev)

I am still surprised how few conference organisers have really caught on to social media and have learnt how to use it effectively. So much can be done with social media to help market an event and make it more participatory and engaging but one of the simplest things is to agree and communicate a conference tag as early as possible.

At KM India recently tweeters had to guess the tag which resulted in two tags being used #KMIndia and #KMSummit which resulted in a lot of confusion.

This great post on Tagging and face-to-face events by John David Smith makes the case for conference tags and gives some solid tips.

Selling by giving    (top | next | prev)

Yes I do it. I started doing it about ten years ago. And yes I too have something to sell at times. Ten years ago almost no one was doing it and I had many a debate with people who thought I was crazy.

Today many more are doing it and as Hugh MacLeod says in his post on Selling by giving in another five years it will probably be considered normal.

Do not predict but experiment    (top | next | prev)

I recently read an interesting article entitled Our Panarchic Future by Thomas Homer-Dixon about the work of the ecologist Buzz Holling. In the article, he concludes:

Holling thinks the world is reaching "a stage of vulnerability that could trigger a rare and major pulse of social transformation." Humankind has experienced only three or four such pulses during its entire evolution, including the transition from hunter-gatherer communities to agricultural settlement, the industrial revolution, and the recent global communications revolution.

Today another pulse is about to begin. "The immense destruction that a new pulse signals is both frightening and creative," he writes.

"The only way to approach such a period, in which uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds, is not to predict, but to experiment and act inventively and exuberantly via diverse adventures in living."

Credit: Thomas Homer-Dixon, Our Panarchic Future

I agree, in a complex world, it is impossible to predict or to plan the future -- we need to experiment and learn what works and what does not work and continually modify our actions accordingly.

Women in Knowledge Management    (top | next | prev)

Its great to see a Linkedin KM discussion group Women in KM set up only for women! And by four of my favorite KM women at that - well done Karen, Nerida, Diana and Jeanne :-)

As they explain in the Group description, they have set it up to see if it would be beneficial for women who are in a field that is often male-dominated. And that it is a chance for women to explore, network, share ideas about KM among other women.

Interestingly, I have noted that online forums are male dominated but I tend to find at conferences, workshops and certainly my knowledge cafes there are more woman - often a 60:40 or even 70:30 ratio of women to men.

There are no solutions!    (top | next | prev)

I often catch myself using the word "solution" or the verb "to solve". But slowly but surely I am eliminating these measly marketing words from my vocabulary. Let me explain.

We talk all the time about "solving business problems" or of "business solutions" or "KM solutions. Marketers love such phrases. But there are no solutions to complex business problems. There are only partial solutions. And even these may only work for a limited period of time in an ever changing business environment. And there are always unintended side-effects that can often be more detrimental than the original problem.

Thus we can only ever "respond" to problems in a continuous adaptive way. So we really need to stop using the word "solution" as it tends to seduce us into a false sense of security that problems can be solved once and for all.

There are NO "solutions" to complex business issues – only “responses” to them.

KM and Theory X thinking    (top | next | prev)

You may be familiar with Douglas McGregor's "Theory X and Theory Y". Theory X says that "employees are lazy, inherently dislike work and will avoid it if they can" and thus Theory X managers believe that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. On the other hand Theory Y managers believe that, given the right conditions, most people want to do a good job.

In Theory Y, management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. According to Papa, to them work is as natural as play. They possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations.

Given the proper conditions, theory Y managers believe that employees will learn to seek out and accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed. A Theory Y manager believes that, given the right conditions, most people will want to do well at work. They believe that the satisfaction of doing a good job is a strong motivation. Many people interpret Theory Y as a positive set of beliefs about workers.

A close reading of The Human Side of Enterprise reveals that McGregor simply argues for managers to be open to a more positive view of workers and the possibilities that this creates. He thinks that Theory Y managers are more likely than Theory X managers to develop the climate of trust with employees that is required for human resource development. It's here through human resource development that is a crucial aspect of any organization. This would include managers communicating openly with subordinates, minimizing the difference between superior-subordinate relationships, creating a comfortable environment in which subordinates can develop and use their abilities. This climate would include the sharing of decision making so that subordinates have say in decisions that influence them. This theory is a positive view to the employees.

The more I talk to KM managers the more I come to believe that Theory X thinking runs deep in KM even when people strongly deny it. KMers frequently ask me or others in on-line forums - "how to do you motivate or incentivise people?" "how do you make people share their knowledge?" or they are looking for ways to manipulate people into using some KM tool or another. I can often discern in their wording that just beneath the surface they think other people are lazy or stupid. It's Theory X thinking!

To my mind - the problem does not lie with the employees - it lies with the managers and a deeply rooted Theory X mindset!

Thoughts on KM Certification    (top | next | prev)

I am often asked what I think about KM Certification and whether it is of value or not. This is a hotly debated topic and much has been written and discussed on the web and so I have created a page on my website dedicated to the subject of KM certification that I will update from time to time.

My bottom line is this: On KM certification - go for the best course regardless of whether it is certified or not - do you wish to genuinely learn or buy an expensive bit of paper!

KM Event Highlights    (top | next | prev)

This section highlights 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 Forum 10th Annual Conference
24 - 25 Feb 2010, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom
I will be at Henley for this event - how could I miss the 10th anniversary!

3rd Annual Global Learning Summit
03 - 05 Mar 2010, Singapore City, Singapore

KM for Business
10 - 11 Mar 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia
This will be my third worskhop for KMPlus and I am very much looking forward to it.

Making KM Productive
30 Mar 2010, Hong Kong, China
I will be speaking at this event.

The Gurteen Knowledge Café Masterclass
31 Mar 2010, Hong Kong, China
I will be running this Masterclass as a post-conference workshop at HKKMS 2010.

KM Egypt 2010
21 - 22 Apr 2010, Cairo, Egypt
I will be speaking at this event. My first trip to Egypt!

Driving Business Performance
26 - 30 Apr 2010, Houston, United States

5th Knowledge Management International Conference
25 - 27 May 2010, Terengganu, Malaysia

Global MAKE Conference 2010 Brasil (GMC 2010)
25 - 27 May 2010, São Paulo, Brasil

KM UK 2010
15 - 16 Jun 2010, London, United Kingdom
I will be giving a keynote talk at this event.

World Library and Information Congress
10 - 15 Aug 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden

11th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM 2010)
02 - 03 Sep 2010, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal
I will be attending this event for the seventh year in succession.

7th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning (ICICKM 2010)
11 - 12 Nov 2010, Hong Kong, China

KMWorld & Intranets 2010
16 - 18 Nov 2010, Washington DC, United States

Subscribing and Unsubscribing    (top | next | prev)

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    (top | next | prev)

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 Knowledge Management 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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