Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 37 - 7th July 2003


First Published

July 2003

The Gurteen Knowledge Letter is a monthly newsletter that is distributed to members of the Gurteen Knowledge Community. You may receive the Knowledge Letter by joining the community. Membership is totally free. You may read back-copies here.


Its been a busy month, not only my own knowledge-conference, but a
knowledge-bbq, a Theodore Zeldin evening and a k-cafe at an
Information Warfare Conference! Not to mention the Henley KM Forum

What I love about these events is that I get to meet many interesting
people. This month, two people stood out: Dave Snowden who gave the
keynote at my own conference and Theodore Zeldin who gave a talk at
the Tate Modern in London.

I talk about both of them in this month's newsletter. They are both
"bold thinkers".

"Necessarily, the boldest thinkers - the ones most likely to
transform people's views of themselves and the world - work on the
fringes of society. As George Bernard Shaw said 'The reasonable man
adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying
to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the
unreasonable man.'

*************************** CONTENTS ***************************

1 - The Gurteen Knowledge Conference
2 - Dave Snowden
3 - Theodore Zeldin
4 - A Networing Idea
5 - Does Conversation Work?
6 - ActKM and KM Standards
7 - The Trouble with Standards
8 - Express Yourself
9 - Better Understanding Knowledge
10 - KM in 2010
11 - Who's who in KM?
12 - The Knowledge Barbecue!
13 - Living Networks by Ross Dawson
14 - Gurteen Knowledge-Calendar
15 - What's New?

*************** THE GURTEEN KNOWLEDGE CONFERENCE ***************

I would like to thank all of you who participated in my conference on
the 18th June in London - especially the speakers and organizers
Bizmedia who made it all possible. From my perspective, and judging
from the feedback it was a great day and a huge success with 76
delegates, speakers and sponsors attending.

I felt the event had a 'community spirit' and I would like to build
on that sense of 'community' in future events. One key insight was
that people would like to see future events designed to be far more
interactive, allowing more time for conversation and networking.

Whether you attended or not, all the materials associated with the
conference are available on my website.

You should take a look at Matt Mower's weblog. Matt blogged most of
the events. In particular, his blog of Dave Snowden's talk is


Conference materials and links:

************************* DAVE SNOWDEN *************************

What I love about Dave Snowden is that he questions many things that
we hold to be common sense about human nature and the KM world -
assumptions that we have just not thought about or questioned deeply
enough. A few ideas he questions:

+ We make rationale decisions!

+ We often do things accidentally while others always do things

+ Even in complex systems there is a relationship between cause and
effect and so prescriptive solutions are possible!

If you have not seen Dave speak then its about time you did. There is
plenty of opportunity. He seems to be speaking in a different country
every day!

But even if you cannot get to hear him speak, take a look at the
following resources - in particular the download files he made
available after my conference. I think you will 'enjoy'.

Dave Snowden:

The IBM Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity:

Dave Snowden Downloads:

************************ THEODORE ZELDIN ************************

On the 1st July, Theodore Zeldin gave a talk at the Tate Modern in
London. I had only a few days notice but mailed all 3,500 newsletter
readers in the UK. What a great response! Over 100 people replied and
about 25 turned up.

What did Theodore have to say? Well you can find out - as the session
was webcast and will soon be added to the Tate Audio Visual Archive.


But lets tantalize you a little. What do you think he considers the
greatest revolution since we moved from a hunter-gatherer society to
an agricultural based one?

Answer: "'Equality of respect' between men and women."

Not what you might have expected! Now, I can hear some of you saying
that we still have a long way to go but then it was only in 1918 that
women over 30 in England won the vote. My grandmother was 28 and had
a young child at the time but even then could not vote! There has
been huge change.

What else?

The idea that we are moving from a consumer society to the "economy
of the gift" - a society where the purpose of work will be for
learning and cultural activity - a society in which we move from
acquiring goods to giving to and helping others.

And much more that I do not have the space to go into!

Needless to say, not everyone in the audience agreed with him and
there was some 'interesting conversation' afterwards.

Theodore spoke for an hour and turned over another hour to questions
and answers and even longer in the bar afterwards.
I think this 50:50 split should be a rule for any speaker. So a
typical conference talk of 45 minutes would comprise 20 minutes talk
and 25 minutes discussion. Now that would be a revolution!

For more about Theodore Zeldin:

*********************** A NETWORING IDEA ***********************

At the Theodore Zeldin meeting I was trying to meet up with about 25
people, many of whom had not met me before. To make life easy I
suggested they did two things

1. Check the photo on my website so they could recognize me.
2. Program my mobile phone number into theirs so they could contact

But then Richard Stallard suggested that I wore a name badge. I took
an old badge, printed out a new label as BIG and BOLD as I could make
my name and wore it.

It really did help. It helped me meet Richard for one who explained
that he always carried a badge around with him so that when ever he
was in a potential networking situation he could wear it.

A great idea. Think about it. I carry mine with me now :-)

Personal Networking:

******************** DOES CONVERSATION WORK? ********************

Its always good to meet like minds. Ray Shaw is certainly one such
person. He has written a provocative little article called "Does
Conversation Work".

"We take conversation so much for granted that whether it works is or
not is rarely if ever open to question."

Intrigued? You can download it from my website:

******************** ACTKM AND KM STANDARDS ********************

ActKM is a learning community dedicated to building knowledge about
public sector knowledge management.

If you are interested in this area then this Australian based
discussion group is an interesting and active group to join.

There is a healthy debate going on right now concerning the role
standards have to play in KM.


The following item is a posting from ActKM by David Hawthorne,
reproduced here with his permission.

****************** THE TROUBLE WITH STANDARDS ******************

By David Hawthorne

The trouble with standards, according to some old engineering
colleagues of mine in the broadcasting business, is that in practice
they become both a floor and a ceiling.

In the "explicit world," the "floor" is very useful. It gives us
something to stand on. Without "standards (e.g. PAL, NTSC, Secam, and
so on) television engineering would have never gotten off the ground.
(Never mind that that's three standards for doing ostensibly the same
thing, and never mind that each was nationally or regionally
anti-competitive by intent. Things have not improved much.)
Nonetheless, each set of standards permitted each economic zone
(rightly or wrongly) to focus enough attention and capital on a
reasonably focused development agenda.

Now, over here in the inexplicit world of "K," I am inclined to
believe that the "ceiling" is more dangerous than the "floor" is
useful. In the explicit world of television engineering, we just
ignored the ceiling. With our feet firmly planted on the floor, we
built things that performed better than the "standard" (like systems
that used higher than "standard" digital sampling rates) and if they
were enough of an improvement, people ignored the standard and went
for the new "generation" of equipment. It was sloppy, messy, wasteful
and confusing from time to time -but all of those negatives have long
since been forgotten (though all the wounds have not healed).

Here in "K-World," the fear is that standards will be used to shut
off debate, inquiry, discourse, and innovation. Someone who knows
nothing else, will be able to look up the "standard" and beat us over
the head with it. They will make all the same arguments of earlier
generations of standards bearers: it adds clarity, it will help
organize the market, it will create certainty, and so on.

To this I would add one further argument. Having a "standard" in the
K-world is like deciding to treat every infection with Penicillin.
The problems we are trying to deal with are dynamic and many are the
results of processes every bit as compelling as survival. Standards
will focus energy on administering yesterday's solution to tomorrow's
problem. The K-world is a harsh, hostile, and diabolical environment.
Enter at your own risk. Passion (and other irrational
characteristics) are required.

The dilemma is that in the "explicit" world it is easy to demonstrate
that the "new thing" works better than the "standard thing." But in
the "K-world" the unproven but accepted standard thing confirms
itself and the new thing offers to replace it with something that is
also unaccepted. I keep thinking that medicine has something to offer
in its Medical Review Board model that assess whether a practice is
reasonable, given the current state of the art. It's objective,
presumably, is to root out bad practice not rule out new practice.


*********************** EXPRESS YOURSELF ***********************

Take a look at this short article by Rob Ashton. In it he argues that
long words don't make us clever, and that writing to impress is a
serious barrier to knowledge sharing.

I couldn't agree more but we are all prone to do it!

A few words of wisdom from Rob's article:

"We don't need to say, 'a systematic review of the research shows'
when we can just say, 'the research shows'. And why say 'at this
moment in time we are currently involved in the implementation' of
something when we can just say 'we're implementing' it?"

Which reminds me. I used to have a technical writer (Scott
Cronenworth) who worked for me and would say "David, I can say twice
as much as you can say in half the words!" So when I wrote something,
I would edit it in half before giving it to him to revise. But
somehow he would cut it in half again and still manage to add value!


**************** BETTER UNDERSTANDING KNOWLEDGE ****************

Learning, creativity communities and leadership are all key to
business success. All of these can be better understood in the
context of data, information, knowledge and mental models. A first
purpose of this paper is to make some of these links. A subsidiary
purpose is to show how the additional understanding this gives can
help in formulating solutions to common business and knowledge

So starts this article by Steve Hales. If you wish to try to get your
mind around the relationship between data, information and knowledge
- well worth a read.

Better Understanding Knowledge for Personal and Business Success:

************************** KM IN 2010 **************************

By Jonathan Sage

I'd like to brief you on an interesting, and arguably unique, KM
project and ask for your assistance.

On behalf of the European Commission DG Information Society
Technology, we are carrying out a study on "Market Prospects,
Business Needs and Technological Trends for Business Knowledge

We are involving a select panel of KM thought leaders in Europe and
America in the prelimary phase of the study:

Victoria Ward (Founder Spark Knowledge, former CKO Nat West and one
of the first CKOs), Steve Denning,(Former CKO World Bank), Steve
Barth (Editor at large, Knowledge Management popular Journal), Rory
Chase (Editor Journal of Knowledge Management Academic Journal),
Elizabeth Lank (Independent, former CKO of ICL creater of Knowledge
Cafes and one of the first CKOs), David Gurteen (runs the web based
largest Knowledge Network in the world), David Ewbank (CK Aventis),
Peter Schuett (Author of the best selling book on KM in Germany),
Euan Semple (CKO BBC), Hugh Wilmott (Judge Management Institute
Cambridge, UK), Joseph Horwath (CKO Millenium Pharma and author of a
leading book on tacit knowledge), Nancy Dixon and of course, Dave
Snowden who has been instrumental in getting the above involved.

Besides these experts, we are aware of the vast, rich experience and
knowledge within our community and would like to take advantage of
this - and tempt you to participate. We are therefore looking for
serious "volunteers" to contribute to the study in its different
phases, these being:

(1) current state of KM in terms of business needs and technology

(2) scenarios for 2010. The process we will use is to share a
"straw-man" document with volunteers for consultation over a period
of two weeks in July, for the paper on current state of KM and invite
you to join a discussion group.

We'll use the same process in July for the 2010 scenarios. Following
these consultations, consolidated documents will be distributed for
your final comments.

What is in it for you?

Apart from the experience, you will be acknowledged in the final
report - published by the European Commission. You will gain first
hand insight into how the project is progressing and will take part
in the debate. You will also be able to invite others to participate
in the study. You will be invited to attend the eChallenges
conference in Bologna, Italy for the launch of the study. You will
also receive a personal printed copy of the study.

What we expect from you?

Your ideas, your active participation in July and September to review
and provide input (5 - 10 hours approx in total), according to your
availability. And, if possible, one key paper that you have
contributed representing your perspective of KM.

How do you express interest? Mail me, indicating your special area of
expertise and sector.

Best regards
Jonathan Sage
IBM Business Consulting Services
mailto:[email protected]

*********************** WHO'S WHO IN KM? ***********************

Whenever I come across someone interesting in the field of KM, I add
them to the "Who's who in KM?" section of my website. The list has
grown to 46 people. Everyone taking part in the above study is
included if you would like to learn more about them.

Who's who in KM?:

******************** THE KNOWLEDGE BARBECUE! ********************

About 40 people turned up for the "knowledge-bbq" on the 25th June,
hosted by the University of Greenwich Business School on the Old
Royal Naval College Campus, Greenwich. It was a fine summer's
evening in a beautiful historic setting and everyone seemed to have
an excellent time with plenty of intense conversation going on.

If you are based in the UK you may be interested in the London
Knowledge Network Foundation Workshop that is being run by the
Business School - see link below.

The next knowledge-café is not yet scheduled but will be held in

Knowledge Café home page:

London Knowledge Network Foundation Workshop:

**************** LIVING NETWORKS BY ROSS DAWSON ****************

Yet another book in my knowledge-raffle. This month it is Living
Networks by Ross Dawson. I can highly recommend if you wish to learn
more about leveraging networks - both of the technological and people


Living Networks by Ross Dawson:

******* S U B S C R I B I N G & U N S U B S C R I B I N G *******

You may s u b s c r i b e to this newsletter, via the following link:


or you can e-mail your request to s u b s c r i b e or u n s u b s
c r i b e to
mailto:[email protected]

***************** THE GURTEEN KNOWLEDGE-LETTER *****************

The Gurteen Knowledge-Letter is a free monthly e-mail based knowledge
management 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. It is
produced in association with the Knowledge Management Forum of Henley
Management College, 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 the following copyright notice is included
intact: "Copyright 2003, David Gurteen, All rights reserved."

David Gurteen
Gurteen Associates
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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