Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 235 - January 2020


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 235 - January 2020


  1. Introduction to the January 2020 Knowledge Letter
  2. The BMI Series in Dialogic OD
  3. Please help support my work
  4. Serendipity and the Stars
  5. Explanations of a high-level concept in five different layers of complexity
  6. We are ignorant of our ignorance
  7. The University of the Future
  8. Teaching Ourselves
  9. The Knowledge Management for Development Journal
  10. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2020
  11. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  12. Unsubscribe
  13. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the January 2020 Knowledge Letter

After the success of our Conversational Leadership workshop last year, John Hovell, and I are pleased to announce we are running a workshop in the UK again this summer. You will find full details here.

Part of the experience of the workshop will be the C-group - an experiential and transformative learning methodology that enables a small group of people to practice and develop their interpersonal and conversational skills. A C-group does not have an explicit agenda, structure, or expressed goal. The conversations are self-led by the group and not by the host.

We have chosen the same amazing venue as last year - the Elevetham - a Victorian Gothic Mansion set in an estate of 4,000 acres in the Hampshire countryside and a history dating back to the 11th century.

Drop me an email or call me if you have any questions.

The BMI Series in Dialogic OD

I am a big fan of the work of Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak on Dialogic OD

Dialogic OD is about "changing the conversations” that shape everyday thinking and behaviour in an organization and there is considerable overlap with Conversational Leadership. The fundamental difference seems to be that while Conversational Leadership is primarily about a set of conversational behaviours adopted by everyone in an organization, Dialogic OD is more about conversational interventions by OD practitioners and consultants. Many of the tools and techniques are the same.

So I am pleased to let you know about a new series of books that Gervase and Bob are publishing together – The BMI Series in Dialogic OD.

They are self publishing books by a variety of authors through Amazon and are interested in publishing short (100 page) books that are highly practical, provide lots of concrete examples, on one aspect of Dialogic OD practice.

If you are interested in writing a book please contact Gervase ([email protected]) or Bob ([email protected]) to discuss.

Or, if you teach OD courses and would like to consider any of their titles for course adoption, contact Gervase to get an electronic version of the book(s) you are interested in.

Finally, you may like to join their mailing list so you can stay up to date on when new titles are available.

Please help support my work

I have been writing and publishing this Knowledge Letter every month for over 19 years and most of you have been receiving it for 5 years or more. My Knowledge Café also had its 17th birthday last September.

If you enjoy my work and find it valuable, please consider giving me a little support by donating $1 (or more) a month to Become a Patron or making small one off contribution.

I am not going to get rich on this but it will help cover some of my website hosting expenses.

I have over 50 patrons so far. A big thanks to you all.

Serendipity and the Stars

Recently I wrote about science curiosity, and in writing the post, I told a personal story of my own about my father showing me the stars on a dark and wintry night when I was a boy.

The story of myself as a child stuck in my head for several days after, and I recalled I had read something somewhere about a boy and the stars, so I googled it and found what I was looking for - this wonderful quotation from Walter Lippman.
A boy can take you into the open at night and show you the stars; he might tell you no end of things about them, conceivably all that an astronomer could teach.

But until and unless he feels the vast indifference of the universe to his own fate, and has placed himself in the perspective of cold and illimitable space, he has not looked maturely at the heavens.

Until he has felt this, and unless he can endure this, he remains a child, and in his childishness, he will resent the heavens when they are not accommodating.

He will demand sunshine when he wishes to play, and rain when the ground is dry, and he will look upon storms as anger directed at him, and the thunder as a personal threat.

Having found it, I had to add the quote to my block; it was just too good, and so I went to Wikipedia to find out more about the author Walter Lippman.

In doing so, I discovered this recent article in Vox entitled: Intellectuals have said democracy is failing for a century. They were wrong - Walter Lippmann's famous critique of democracy revisited.

I read the first page and immediately realized that what Walter was writing about in a book in 1922 and where this quote came from was at the heart of one of my interests.

This is serendipity in action. The original quote had nothing to do with my interest in democracy, I simply liked it, but it led me to a thinker, a writer and a book that was at the heart of my passion.

Do you ever feel the universe is trying to help you?

Explanations of a high-level concept in five different layers of complexity

This beautiful video demonstrates what it means to explain a high-level concept in five different layers of complexity – first to a child, then a teenager, then an undergrad majoring in the same subject, a grad student, and, finally, an expert.

The video, the conversation about gravity, that the astrophysicist Janna Levein has with the child, is a world apart from the conversation she has with another expert in the field.

Janna is sensing the level of knowledge of the person with whom she is talking and adjusting the conversation to that level. It is quite magical. Knowledge is best shared through face-to-face conversation.

You will find several similar other sets of conversations on a variety of concepts here if you are interested.

We are ignorant of our ignorance

Every month or so for the last few years, I have been having a Zoom conversation with my good friend Charles Savage in Munich, who never fails to inspire me.

I thought I'd share some words of his after a fascinating conversation with him this morning.
Are we moving from “managing knowledge,” the “known” to exploring the frontier of the “unknown?”

Realizing my “ignorance” has been most humbling – and it is revitalized by intense “curiosity!”

So moving from the SMART to the WISE (Wondering, Inquiring, Searching and Exploring) is a delight!

After all, the “insights” we share with one another light up and enlighten our understanding!

Credit: Charles Savage
After writing about science curiosity recently, I have been wondering about how we might become more curious. After my chat with Charles I am wondering if recognizing our real ignorance is part of the answer.

The dérive as practiced by Clive Holtham is a practical way of developing curiosity.

Charles and I were talking about ignorance as I had shared with him some of the ideas from the book The Knowledge Illusion, which I think might be better dubbed the Knowledge Delusion.

I am writing about the subject myself but early days yet - very much work in progress.

The University of the Future

Academic Conferences and Publishing International (ACPIL) have just launched a new book called the University of the Future.

The University of the Future reviews the current state of the university sector and makes some suggestions as to how universities will develop in the forthcoming years to meet the challenges they now face.

Universities are under considerable pressure to change, perhaps under more pressure than at any time since the modern university was created in the early 1800s. Universities are being criticised for not producing adequately work-ready graduates.

They have been criticised for their intense focus on research which has sometimes been said to have been at the cost to their mandate to educate. Universities are being criticised for their bureaucracy which has led to the coining of the expression managerialism. Universities are being criticised for the current market orientation which is reflected in the fees they charge and the high salaries paid to Vice Chancellors, Deans and others holding high office.

However, what is actually happening within universities and what is likely to happen in the future is much more nuanced than most of the criticism which is levelled at them. Universities are a reflection of society and thus they are always a work-in-progress, continually in need of reinventing themselves.

This book is a compilation of 17 chapters written by 28 authors from 15 different countries over 5 continents.

I am running a London Knowledge Café on the same topic at Regents University What knowledge, skills and/or capabilities should be prioritised for learners at universities in the 21st Century? in late February. If you are around, do register and come along - the event is free.

Peter Sharp, our speaker on the evening has also been blogging on the topic

Teaching Ourselves

Almost 10 years ago, I discovered that Mireille Jansma and Jurgen Egges of the then ING Bank Academy in the Netherlands had adapted my Knowledge Café process and were using it as part of their Challenging Minds programme.

I also learned that ING was working with CoachingOurselves (CO) - a Candian company founded by Henry Mintzberg and Phil LeNir - on the evolution and expansion of CO's learning philosophies and materials.

You can find the full story in my blook including a joint paper Connect, Connect, Connect written by ING and CO.

Over the past few years, I had lost contact with Mireille until we reconnected recently and she updated me and Phil on her work since she left ING.

This is what she had to say:
We are developing a program with and for youngsters and young adults (17-27 years) who have lost their way a bit or didn't yet find it. Quit school, do odd jobs, if any, have aspirations but don't know which exactly, nor how to get there. And our format: CoachingOurselves & Knowledge Cafés!

I am so grateful to you both, David and Phil! It is our cross-fertilization of ideas, approaches and passions which has led to this new route.

Our first module is called 'Dreams, Goals, Choices'. I didn't make up this theme, but discovered it by doing some workshops with young people: they set the path.

I'm also now running workshops (6 of them) at a secondary school for pupils who have to do their end-exams, have low grades and are demotivated. And guess what: they love it (their teachers didn't expect this at all).

Their feedback: 'Wonderful to talk and learn about and from each other', 'Love the freedom and space to talk', 'Enjoyed having time to reflect and think'. 'Learned so much about others, while I thought I knew them'. And so on.

Yes, friends! I've always known that CoachingOurselves and Knowledge Cafés are not just for managers and professionals. And now I've stumbled across a wonderful opportunity to take your brilliant ideas, experiences and insights to youngsters to help them grow, reflect, see, and discover their own path to their own future.

And so much more to do and think about. Like Teaching Ourselves. Imagine that: secondary schools with pupils in small groups, going through booklets which explain step by step about biology, talking and reflecting and connecting at the same time.

Thought travels faster than action and may leave less a wake, nevertheless I wanted to share what I was thinking today.

Thank you both, Phil and David, glad to be in touch again, and best regards, Mireille

Credit: Mireille Jansma

I have highlighted a few of Mireille's words. As she says "Imagine". This is the power of peer-learning methods like the Knowledge Café and CoachingOurselves

The Knowledge Management for Development Journal

I wuld like to introduce you to the The Knowledge Management for Development Journal (KM4DJournal)

The KM4D Journal offers peer-reviewed practice-based cases, analysis and research concerning the role of knowledge in development processes, and provides a forum for debate and exchange of ideas among practitioners, policy makers academics and activists world-wide. By challenging current assumptions, it seeks to stimulate new thinking and to shape future ways of working. The journal is strongly related to the KM4Dev community of practice but aims to promote KM knowledge and approaches in the wider professional development community.

It has been around for around for about 15 years. It is open access and published online on the OJS platform. Some years ago, it was published briefly in hard copy by Routledge.

It is entirely voluntary - the Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Cummings, and a small editorial board keep it going.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: January 2020

Here are some of my more popular recent tweets. 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.

  • Make America talk again: the lab teaching sworn enemies to have decent conversations https://buff.ly/2Ku9O1t #ConversationalLeadership

  • Why It's a Good Idea to Listen to Opposing Views. https://buff.ly/2RQkr3z #ConversationalLeadership

  • Mastering the art of speaking up: the importance of trust https://buff.ly/38CBixx #ConversationalLeadership

  • I like the way Henry Mintzberg @Mintzberg141 sees an organization as a community of human beings, not a collection of human resources.https://buff.ly/2RhugqL #ConversationalLeadership #leadership

  • Three Questions to Start Every Meeting https://buff.ly/2sjBI8Z

  • How can you build lasting psychological safety in your teams? https://buff.ly/2T2Stnc /More from @JudyWalker5 on AARs #KM #KMers #KnowledgeManagement #ConversationalLeadership

  • How to Talk to Conservatives About Climate Change https://buff.ly/2zaexAG /insightful article - comments are interesting - surprises me that some people think a "belief" is not based on evidence. You can have both true (evidence based) and false beliefs. #ClimateChange

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.

Henley Forum 20th Annual Conference
05 - 06 Feb 2020, Henley on Thames, United Kingdom

The University of the Future
Wed 26 Feb 2020, London, United Kingdom

Accelerating Change Masterclass
28 Feb - 29 Jan 2020, Vienna, Austria

Clear Leadership
02 Mar - 10 Jan 2020, Victoria, BC, Canada

KM Showcase 2020 - Learn, Collaborate, Apply
04 - 05 Mar 2020, Arlington, VA, United States

APQC 2020 Knowledge Management Conference
27 Apr - 01 May 2020, Houston, United States

TAKE 2020 - Theory and Applications on the Knowledge Economy
01 - 03 Jul 2020, Sttutgart, Germany

7th European Conference on Social Media
02 - 03 Jul 2020, Larnaca, Cyprus

21st European Conference on Knowledge Management
03 - 04 Sep 2020, Coventry, United Kingdom

15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
17 - 18 Sep 2020, Rome, Italy


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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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