Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 149 - November 2012


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 149 - November 2012


  1 Introduction to the November 2012 Knowledge Letter
  2 Blogs are potent teaching and learning tools
  3 The surprising value of conversations
  4 Video: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen
  5 The Al Jazeera Cafe: not quite a conversation
  6 Some differences between the knowledge cafe and the world cafe
  7 There is no way I share my ideas: how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture?
  8 Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2012
  9 Upcoming Events: November 2012
10 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
11 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the November 2012 Knowledge Letter

Its been a busy few months with trips to Rotterdam for a knowledge cafe workshop; Johannesburg for ICKM 2012 and an assortment of knowledge cafe engagements; the Central Bank of Malaysia KM Conference in Kuala Lumpur and the annual KM Asia Conference in Singapore where I ran knowledge cafe workshops and more recently to Dubai where I run a series of knowledge cafes for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

My knowledge cafes and knowledge cafes workshops where I teach people the principles behind my kcafe process and how to facilitate them have taken over my life these last ten years since I first started to run them in London in September 2012.

I feel I have only just started to scratch the surface of what is possible with the knowledge cafes and similar face-to-face conversational tools and slowly I am better understanding the critical role of conversation in business.

There has been a recent book published Talk, Inc.:How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations where the authors Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind show how effective leaders are adapting the principles of face-to-face conversation to pursue new forms of organizational conversation. Unfortunately the book only focuses on how senior management in many large organisations are starting to communicate with their employees through conversation and says little about how employees themselves can use conversation to communicate among themselves but it is a start.

In 2013, expect to see a lot more about "organizational conversation" from me.

Blogs are potent teaching and learning tools

Donald Clark is a prolific and insightful blogger on all aspects of education, teaching and learning but I love him most for his recent talk Dont lecture me where he criticises the lecture as a form of teaching. It was of course my exasperation with the lecture format that prompted me to design my knowledge cafes.

But coming back to blogs, when I first learnt about them and started blogging myself way back in March 2002, I immediately saw their potential as teaching and learning tools. Ten years later, to my mind, they have still not reached their full potential in this area.

Donald gets it too.

Blogs are a potent and vastly underused teaching and learning tool. The habit of regular writing as a method of reflection, synthesis, argument and reinforcement is suited to the learning process. Blogs encourage bolder, independent, critical thinking, as opposed to mere note taking. For teachers they crystallise and amplify what you have to teach. For learners, they force you to really learn.

Take a look at the full post - it may just encourage you to blog if you are not already :-)

The surprising value of conversations

You may find this talk by Ken Everett of N2NHub on the The Surprising Value of Conversations given by Ken Everett at the HRExchange in Jakarta in October 2012 of interest.

For me it gets particularly interesting at 06.25 where Ken starts to talk about the top three HR priorities (engagement, talent retention and leadership development) and then ties them in to the role of conversation.

One of his examples, I am delighted to see, is the example of ING Bank and how they use Knowledge Cafes for Management Development that I blogged about a little while back.

Enjoy :-)

Video: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen

I recently reminded you that I was the editor of a new book Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management published by Academic Publishing International (ACI) earlier this year.

To compliment the book, ACI had published a DVD of me talking about Social KM with Dr. Dan Remenyi: Social Knowledge Management: A conversation with David Gurteen.

Well now there is a short preview of the video interview available on YouTube.

The Al Jazeera Cafe: not quite a conversation

The Al Jazeera Cafe is about bringing people together around a table, from all backgrounds, all walks of life, in different corners of the world.

Crucially, the show is always set, as the name suggests, in a cafe - whether in Amman, Jordan, Bradford England, or Mexico City, Mexico. There are no television studios, no invited audiences. Just a relaxed yet robust discussion on the key issues of the day in an intimate, everyday setting.

I travel across the globe, to talk with people on the ground about economic inequality, democratic reform, sectarian conflict and national identity.

The show is a democratic forum for ideas; the perfect platform for discussing global themes. And my guests range from ministers to bloggers, Islamists to secularists, Democrats to Republicans.

You will see passionate people arguing over controversial issues.

Whether it is the war on terror or the war on drugs, the death of multiculturalism or the rise of Islamophobia, The Cafe cuts through the spin and gets right to the heart of the subject.

This is a great idea but to my mind it is flawed. Watch this so called "conversation" The Cafe - One state or any of the conversations. They are not conversations in a true sense. Notice how Mehdi Hasan is really in charge. He is driving and controlling the conversation. Often it is not even a conversation. He asks questions of an individual participant and they reply. It is a series of monologues.

Such a shame, its so close to being a unique piece of journalism but there is that need to control the conversation all the time. Maybe I am expecting too much, maybe the control is necessary to keep the focus and extract the intellectual entertainment value out of the conversation. I just wish, that at least once they would relax the controls and let it become a real conversation. One of equals.

Some of the Cafes' are a little better - this one on Kenyas unwinnable war for example. While this one is still tightly controlled.

There are more Cafe vidoes here if you are interested. Regardless of style, there are some interesting topics.

Some differences between the knowledge cafe and the world cafe

I always say when I describe my knowledge cafe process that anything that gets in the way of the free flow of the conversation is a bad thing.

I took part in a world cafe recently and it reminded me what I don't like about the world cafe process (as it is often run) and why I do things differently in my knowledge cafe.

First: No hosts. I do not have any table leaders in my knowledge cafes unlike the world cafe that has table hosts. One of the principles of my knowledge cafes is that everyone is equal.

At the table I was sitting, like all other tables, we were asked to appoint a host. Immediately, one of the men in my group decided he was going to drive the selection process; he stated why he would not make a good host and why others at the table were not appropriate and told one specific member that he would make the best host as he was an academic.

The person in question accepted the nomination. I don't know if he was happy or unhappy but he was put in a position where he had little say in the matter and now as host he would effectively not be part of the conversation as he needed to take notes (mental or otherwise) to pass on the gist of the conversation in the next round. Sure enough he took little part in the conversation.

Second: No flip charts. Flip charts seriously get in the way of the conversation.

In this case, another member of my group stood up, took a felt-tipped-pen and asked for ideas to list on the flip chart. We started to call them out and he started to list them until I expressed a difference of opinion about one the points he was about to write down and a conversation started. The process was in danger of falling into a list making session and not an open conversation.

And then third, in this world cafe, we moved as groups between tables, we did not mix - something else I do not like but is not a usual element of a world cafe. When our group got to the third table, the table host took us though what the last group had discussed and had captured on a flip chart.

We were immediately drawn in to comment and build on the previous group's work and were struggling as there seemed to be so little value in it until a member of my group suddenly pointed out that the previous group had totally misunderstood the question. There was some value in this but we had fallen into the trap of being too greatly influenced by the previous group's work and were not approaching the question afresh and thinking for ourselves.

I came away reminded of why I designed my knowledge cafe differently to the world cafe. That's not to say that the one process is better or worse than the other. Which format to chose should rest on the purpose of the cafe. And both cafe formats should always be adapted and blended to suit their purpose.

I need to give this a little more thought but my knowledge cafe tends to be divergent with less focus on capture where the world cafe tends to be more convergent with a greater emphasis on capture.

There is no way I share my ideas: how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture?

An interesting discussion is taking place on my Gurteen Knowledge Community group on LinkedIn.

"There is no way I share my ideas" : how to modify this behaviour in a corporate culture?

3 days ago, I had a conversation with a friend who told me ironically: "Why should I share my ideas? Ideas are valuable, they give power. If I have a good idea, it will help me in my career, but if I share it someone else could steal it".

Even though it was a joke, I believe this is the kind of attitude we may find in some organisations. And I don't have any answer to this type of barrier!

What would you do?

Well, what would you do? See what others think here.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: November 2012

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for October 2012 - November 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 Events: November 2012

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.

Are charities doing more harm than good by using images and stories of vulnerable children?
12 Dec 2012, London, United Kingdom
This is one of my free London Knowledge Cafes.

KM Legal Europe 2013
23 - 24 Jan 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I will be giving the keynote at this conference.

Professional Development Certificates in Knowledge Management
27 - 31 Jan 2013, Kuwait, Kuwait

eduhub days 2013
30 - 31 Jan 2013, St. Gallen, Switzerland
I will be giving the keynote talk at this conference.

Henley KM Forum Annual Conference
27 - 28 Feb 2013, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom
I will be attending this conference.

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 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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