Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 167 - May 2014


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 167 - May 2014


  1. Introduction to the May 2014 Knowledge Letter
  2. Let's have more interesting conversations
  3. Conversational Leadership in the UAE
  4. Provoke your thinking: Suppose how we see cause and effect is around the wrong way
  5. Counter intuitive conversational research
  6. iKNOW magazine: Organizational Conversation
  7. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2014
  8. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  9. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  10. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the May 2014 Knowledge Letter

I have two conferences coming up that I am involved in - both in the UK.

The first is KM UK on 11 -12 June in London.

I have been taking part in this annual conference for far more years than I care to remember and this year I will not only be chairing the first day but giving a presentation on Conversational Leadership.

On the second day, my good friend and colleague Paul Corney will be chairing the event. As ever, it looks like being a first class conference with some great speakers including Dave Snowden, Bonnie Cheuk, Paul Corney and many more.

And then in July, I will be giving a keynote address at the European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2014 in Brighton.

I have not quite decided what I am going to talk about yet - its next on my todo list - but I am tempted to use Cory Doctorow's quote “Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.” as the title for my presentation. I would like to get across the point that conversation is our most social of social media and should not be overlooked.

Like other Academic Conferences and Publishing International events such as the European Conference on Knowledge Management - ECKM 2014 which amazingly is in it's 15th year. This is an academic conference with speakers and participants from around the globe.

I hope to meet many of you at both conferences.

Oh yes and let's not forget I have a London Knowledge Cafe coming up on 4th June on What does Gamification mean in a KM environment?. If you are in London that evening - do come along - the event s totally free.

Let's have more interesting conversations

In the book the The ClueTrain Manifesto, David Weinberger says:

Business is a conversation because the defining work of business is conversation - literally. And 'knowledge workers' are simply those people whose job consists of having interesting conversations .

It's always struck me that David didn't say productive conversations or conversations with "hard outcomes" - he simply said interesting conversations.

I recently shared this quote with someone and their response was but "to what aim are such conversations?"

This strikes at the heart of the matter - many managers, to my mind most managers, worry that people will spend their time talking about things that are not important. They feel the need to control or have oversight of the conversations to ensure they are focused on the business and are efficient.

They don't trust people to decide what to talk about - what is relevant - what is important - what is interesting.

My message to managers "Let your people go - they are in a much better position than you to decide what is interesting and what is not."

Conversational Leadership in the UAE

As a result of my recent trip to the UAE to speak at the Leadership Communication Conference (LCME 2014) in Abu Dhabi, I have a few new resources for you that I hope you will find of interest.

First, here is a recording of my conversation on Leadership with Suzanne Radford and Samineh Shaheem on Dubai Today.

Second, I now have an updated version - with Arabic subtitles - of the Knowledge Cafe workshop I ran for the KHDA last year that gives you a good feel for the dynamics of one of my Knowledge Cafe's.

A big thanks to Alaa Zalat of Corporate Excellence Masters International who not only acted as interpreter for my LCME workshop but also for adding the above subtitles.

Third, here are the slides of my presentation on Conversational Leadership from LCME 2014

And finally, a short video interview with me at LCME 2014 talking about my Knowledge Cafes and Conversational Leadership.

Provoke your thinking: Suppose how we see cause and effect is around the wrong way

I think you may enjoy this provocative idea by Peter Block from a booklet he co-authored called Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community (see pages 13 to 15}

The shift in the world begins with a shift in our thinking. Shifting our thinking does not change the world, but it creates a condition where the shift in the world becomes possible.

Peter believes that the key change required in our thinking is to move from thinking of ourselves as the outcome of something done to us i.e. effect, to thinking of ourselves as the cause of what is happening.

So in any situation, a question to ask ourselves is "What is cause and what is effect?" "Which way around is it?" What would it mean if our way of seeing a situation was reversed. If we reversed how we saw cause and effect.

Are we the ones actually causing the situation rather than others? Are we trying to solve a problem that we attribute to others that is in reality a problem of our own making?

Did this cause and effect co-evolve - is there no right answer?

Interestingly, Peter says it does not matter if the reversal is true or not but to ask yourself which form of thinking is the most useful - which gives us the most insight and the most power. So in any situation, you don't have to believe it, just pretend that things are around the other way. What insight does that give you? What would it mean?

Here are some reversals to provoke your thinking (one or two of them especially so) - most of them Peter's but a few of them mine:

  • The audience creates the performance
  • The conversation creates the speakers
  • The consumer creates the marketeer
  • The subordinate creates the boss
  • The child creates the parent
  • The employee creates its leadership
  • The student creates the teacher
  • The future creates the present
  • The listener creates the speaker
  • An openness to learn creates the teaching
  • Problem solving occurs to build relationships

Think about it. I believe this is a powerful personal and group thinking tool. I may try to use it in someway in a future Knowledge Cafe.

Counter intuitive conversational research

As I research and write about Conversational Leadership I am forever on the lookout for good research papers and articles concerning conversation.

If you are aware of any such papers - do let me know. Here are the few I have discovered.

Research Papers on Conversation

Recent research that has not been widely published throws some fascinating light on the power of conversation. Some of it is surprising, even counter intuitive.

Who would have thought that having a friendly conversation can boost your cognitive ability or that team performance can be improved by increasing the amount of face-to-face communication regardless of what is talked about.

  • Friends (and Sometimes Enemies) With Cognitive Benefits:
    What Types of Social Interactions Boost Executive Functioning?
    By Oscar Ybarra, Piotr Winkielman, Irene Yeh, Eugene Burnstein, Liam Kavanagh

    Talking with people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems. But conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits.

  • Why is conversation so easy?
    By Simon Garrod; Martin J. Pickering

    Humans are 'designed' for dialogue rather than monologue.

  • Group Discussion as Interactive Dialogue or as Serial Monologue:
    The Influence of Group Size
    By Nicolas Fay; Simon Garrod; Jean Carletta

    In small, 5-person groups, the communication is like dialogue and members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion. However, in large, 10-person groups, the communication is like monologue and members are influenced most by the dominant speaker.

  • Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups
    By Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris, Alexander Pentland, Nada Hashmi,Thomas W. Malone

    Performance is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

  • The New Science of Building Great Teams
    By Alexander Pentland
    April 2012 Harvard Business Review

    The most important predictor of success in a group is the amount - not the content - of social interaction.

iKNOW magazine: Organizational Conversation

I started running my Knowledge Cafes over 10 years ago out of my frustration with death-by-power-point presentations. Little did I know back in 2002 that they would take over my life!

Since then I have run many hundreds of them all over the world and have further developed the concept. What I love about the Knowledge Café is that it works in all the cultures I have encountered.

Gather people in small groups of 3 or 4, remove the barriers to conversation especially fear, allow people to converse in their native tongue around a topic in which they feel passionate and they will engage enthusiastically every time.

Today, my interest has broadened to the concept of "Organizational Conversation" and "Conversational Leadership" and the multitude of ways that conversation can be used in organisational life.

So I was delighted when Dr. Vincent Ribiere of the The Institute for Knowledge and Innovation (IKI) - South-East Asia and Thailand Office invited me to be the editor for the May Edition of their iKnow Magazine for Innovative Knowledge Workers and agreed I could build the issue around the topic of Organizational Conversation. I am pleased to have some wonderful contributors. First, I take a broad look at conversation. Nancy Dixon looks at what makes a conversation effective. Keith de la Rue talks about conversations for innovation. Shawn Callahan writes about the role of storytelling – a very natural form of conversation. Mariette Peters takes a practical look at what it takes to get lawyers to open up, talk with each other and share their knowledge. And Carla Sapsford Nemman looks at conversations as catalysts for inciting strategic storytelling.

I believe that conversation is our most powerful business tool and that each and every one of us has the potential to leverage our personal effectiveness by taking a conversational approach to our work.

So let's have no more of the "stop talking and get to work" and more "get to work and start talking."

You can read or download the magazine here: http://bit.ly/organizational-conversation

It's superbly produced and you will find back copies here.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2014

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for April 2014 to May 2014. 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

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.

What does Gamification mean in a KM environment?
04 Jun 2014, London, United Kingdom

KM UK 2014
11 - 12 Jun 2014, London, United Kingdom
I will be chairing and speaking at this conference on day 1.

Storytelling for Leaders
19 Jun 2014, London, United Kingdom

Knowledge for Development (K4D)
08 - 10 Jul 2014, Bonn, Germany

European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2014
10 - 11 Jul 2014, Brighton, United Kingdom
I will be giving he keynote presentation at this conference.

KM Australia 2014 Congress
22 - 24 Jul 2014, Sydney, Australia

KMICe2014 : Knowledge Management International Conference
12 - 15 Aug 2014, Langkawi Island, Malaysia

The 9th International KMO Conference (Knowledge Management in Organizations)
02 - 05 Sep 2014, Santiago, Chile

15th European Conference on Knowledge Management
04 - 05 Sep 2014, Santarém, Portugal

KM Brasil 2014
17 - 19 Sep 2014, Florianópolis - SC, Brasil

19th Knowledge Management Tracks
06 Oct 2014, Milano, Italy

KM LatinAmerican 2014
20 - 24 Oct 2014, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM World 2014
04 - 07 Nov 2014, Washington DC, United States

11th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning – ICICKM 2014
06 - 07 Nov 2014, Sydney, Australia

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

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