Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 142 - April 2012


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 142 - April 2012


  1 Introduction to the April 2012 Knowledge Letter
  2 You can forget facts but cannot forget understanding
  3 Don't praise the child!
  4 Brown Bag Lunches
  5 Business is a Conversation - It's Good To Talk
  6 Reading PDF and HTML articles on my Kindle
  7 Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2012
  8 Upcoming Knowledge Events: April 2012
  9 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
10 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the April 2012 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

I have been tidying up, structuring and building my YouTube channel over the last few months.

In doing this, I have built several new playlists that I am continuously adding to.

In particular, I have created playlists for some of the people who inspire me the most. These include:

And, one that I plan to spend a lot more time on Trends in Education and Learning

Go take a look I am sure you will find something you will enjoy.

You can forget facts but cannot forget understanding    (top | next | prev)

This short video clip Confessions of a Converted Lecturer from a talk by Professor Erik Mazur who teaches Physics at Harvard is quite mind blowing.

Professor Mazur discovered that his students can "learn" something conceptually and re-iterate it and pass exams but still fail to understand the subject or acquire the ability to apply that learning in real world situations. No amount of "lecturing", how ever good, solves this problem.

You will find more talks from Erik Mazur in this YouTube playlist.

In the first video, you get to learn his solution "to teach by questioning rather than telling". Note how he says to the students "So turn to your neighbour and see if you can convince one another of the correct choice" and then observe the conversation and engagement with the topic and how the students effectively teach each other.

This is the essence of my Knowledge Cafes and why I feel conversation is so important in business. Its the way we really get to engage with the world and to understand stuff. It's good to talk!

Don't praise the child!    (top | next | prev)

Too many students 'get by' and seek tactics that lead to good marks not good learning.

'Never praise a child, praise what they did' says Professor Black, and by this he meant praise the work of the learner and not the learner.

To praise the student encourages two ideas that are powerfully corrosive in learning; a) the idea that it's all down to ability b) the idea that the 'teacher' likes me.

To counter this, teachers must praise the work and effort, not ability of the student. Nor should teachers compare students with other students.

Praising the person also stops students from trying harder. Learners must believe they can change for the better.

Alfie Kohn offers another good reason for not praising children as he describes in this short video clip from one of his talks.

Brown Bag Lunches    (top | next | prev)

There are a number of conversational tools that can be used to great effect to improve learning and sharing in organisations.

The Knowledge Cafe and World Cafe are two such tools. But you can also include peer-assists, after-action reviews and post-project reviews in the list along with tools such as Open Space.

Collectively, I refer to these tools a "Conversational Cafes" as they are all about face-to-face conversation.

But there is another conversational tool that is far more widely known and used than any of the above and that's the brown bag lunch

You are not familiar with the concept then quite simply a brown bag lunch is an informal training or information or knowledge session during a lunch break.

The term brown bag comes from the fact that in the USA meals brought along by the attendees are often packed in brown paper bags.

Robert Dalton reminded me of brown bag lunches in a recent post on the Gurteen Knowledge Community Forum on LinkedIn.

From a knowledge management perspective, a brown bag lunch is a structured social gathering during an organizational lunch time period which is used specifically for the purpose of transferring knowledge, building trust, social learning, problem solving, establishing networking or brain storming

You can find more information here:

They are an excellent way of stimulating informal conversation and connecting people but note they do not have to take place at lunch time, they can take place during any break including breakfast and a brown paper bag is not a requirement!

Business is a Conversation - It's Good To Talk    (top | next | prev)

Why, for all our knowledge, do we so poorly understand what is going on in our business world?

Since the advent of the world wide web and corporate intranets we have had unprecedented access to information.

Are we that much more effective, productive or creative? I don't think so.

I could give you all the information you desired. Perfect information. But would you be able to readily act on it. Probably not!

We don't need more information or knowledge. We need to understand what we have better. We need to make better sense of it all.

How have human beings made sense of the world since the dawn of time? Through conversation! Through storytelling and anecdotes.

Conversation allows us to become aware of different perspectives; it allows us to better crystalise and articulate our own thoughts and views. It improves our understanding.

And better understanding leads to improved decision making and innovation.

What's more, open conversations, learning conversations or dialogue - help build relationships. And its through relationships that everything gets done in the world.

Good conversation about subjects that matter also help surface people's passion and engagement and their propensity to act.

So why then, do so many mangers stifle and inhibit conversation within their organizations and teams when it is good to talk?

The Knowledge Cafe and the World Cafe are simple ways of encouraging and supporting conversation within organisations and thus improving understanding, decision making and innovation leading to deeper engagement and action.

Credit: Business is a Conversation - It's Good To Talk, David Gurteen

I posted the above item on The World Café discussion forum on LinkedIn mainly to promote my Knowledge Cafe workshop in London on May 2.

I wasn't expecting any comments but Bob Kanegis has stimulated the beginnings of an interesting discussion by posing the question So why then, do so many managers stifle and inhibit conversation within their organizations and teams when it is good to talk?

Why do you think conversation is so undervalued by many managers? Hop on over to the World Cafe and join the conversation but note its a closed forum, so you will need to join to read the discussion and to participate.

Reading PDF and HTML articles on my Kindle    (top | next | prev)

A few months ago I bought a Kindle. Funnily, I did not buy it for reading books, I bought it for reading PDF articles.

So many papers and articles are only available in PDF format and I find them almost impossible to read on-line, especially if they are formatted in two columns.

I used to have dozens of the things printed-off and lying around at any one time on my coffee table, by the side of my bed, in my book case and I could never find the one I wanted when I needed it and even then they were never easy to read even on paper.

What is great about the Kindle, is that I can email my PDFs to Amazon where they convert them to the Kindle format and usually within the hour, like magic, they appear on my Kindle.

I love it. But it gets better.

I often find interesting articles on a website in HTML format. I don't want to read them there and then and I don't want to read them online or print them off with all the headers, footers and margins.

Now I can convert these pages to read on my Kindle also. Here is the process I have been using up until now:

  • bookmark the page with Instapaper (Instapaper is a free web service that saves articles for later reading on web browsers, Apple iOS devices, and Amazon Kindle in a sripped-down text format.)
  • later, go to the stripped-down text document in Instapaper
  • print the plain text to a PDF file (I use a free printer driver called CutePDF Writer)
  • save the PDF file to a folder on my laptop. I have created one called Kindle PDFs just for the purpose.
  • email the file to my Kindle

I have just discovered, however, that I can configure Instapaper to send articles I have bookmarked directly to my Kindle. It will even compile several articles into one file. Now that's really cool.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: April 2012    (top | next | prev)

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for March 2011 - April 2012. 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 Knowledge Events: April 2012    (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.

Kuwait Knowledge Management Conference
23 - 25 Apr 2012, Kuwait City, Kuwait

The Middle East Leadership and Communications Forum
23 - 24 Apr 2012, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes
02 May 2012, London, United Kingdom
The third in my recent series of "How to run a Knowledge Cafe" workshops to be held in London in May 2012

KM Legal 2012
15 - 16 May 2012, London, United Kingdom
I will be running a Knowledge Cafe at this event.

II EDO International Congress
23 - 25 May 2012, Barcelona, Spain
I will be speaking at this conference.

The Knowledge Café Workshop
04 Jun 2012, Kuwait City, Kuwait
I will be running this Knowledge Cafe workshop in Kuwait in June.

KM UK 2012
13 - 14 Jun 2012, London, United Kingdom
I will be at KM UK again this year.

KMICe 2012 : 6th Knowledge Management International Conference 2012
04 - 06 Jul 2012, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM 2012)
04 - 06 Sep 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa
I plan to be participating in this conference.

KMWorld 2012
16 - 19 Oct 2012, Washington DC, United States

KM LatinAmerican 2012
22 - 26 Oct 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM Asia 2012
06 - 08 Nov 2012, Singapore City, Singapore
I will be at KM Asia this year.

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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