Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 191 - May 2016


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 191 - May 2016


  1. Introduction to the May 2016 Knowledge Letter
  2. Cafe Debate Feedback
  3. Conversation is hard
  4. FUD is a good thing
  5. Johnnie Moore's Unhurried Conversations
  6. Call for book chapters on Organizational Learning
  7. If history could be folded, where would you put the crease?
  8. Buying second hand books in mint condition
  9. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2016
  10. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  11. Subscribing and Unsubscribing
  12. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the May 2016 Knowledge Letter

For some time, I have been developing a promotional website for my work with the Knowledge Café. The URL is of course knowledge.cafe. I was over the moon when I got that URL :-)

It is still not quite complete but then it probably never will be but today I opened it up to search engines.

As I say, it is mainly a promotional site but you will find my Knowledge Café tipsheet there in several languages (Arabic, Chinese, Danish, English, German, Japanese, Malaysian, Persian, Russian, Spanish) under the resources menu.

If your language is not there, let me know if you would like to translate the English version into your native tongue for me.

My blook on Conversational Leadership is starting to shape up really nicely thanks to my son Jonathan who has helped me make one or two changes to the Wordpress code to make it feel more like a book and less like a blog.

Take a look, although the core material will not be open to everyone for quite some time, a lot of the supporting structure as well as those posts marked with an * are open to you right now.

Cafe Debate Feedback

I ran a Knowledge Café Debate at the KM Legal UK conference in London a few weeks back. The debate format is still a bit of an experiment and so I was delighted with the feedback. Carol and Claire my two debaters did a fantastic job!
Many thanks again for your participation in the recent KM Legal UK event.

Please find your speaker feedback below. Overall speaker average was 5.8. 12:15 – David Gurteen, Gurteen Knowledge Community
Carol Aldridge, Burges Salmon
Claire Stripp, Browne Jacobson

Presentation style - 6.4/7
Content - 6.1/7

  • Thought-provoking and stimulated good debate.
  • Great, very interactive.
  • This was fun – and a good opportunity to share and chat with others.
  • Very good; well-structured, good presentations, thought-provoking discussion.
  • Excellent presentation/debate style, dynamic. Topic to be discussed could be less determined (i.e. difficult to argue ‘against').
  • Loved this session, really effective.
  • Another of my favourite sessions, entertaining and genuinely got us talking amongst the room and meeting others.
  • Liked the interactivity of the format.
  • Really enjoyed this – a bit of fun and meant the audience mixed which was very useful from a networking point of view.
  • Very engaging style. Felt having two debaters with opposing views gave the right environment in which to contribute freely. Credit to the debaters too - they were excellent.
But this piece of feedback hit me the most - the debate format seems to help reduce social silencing.
David's Knowledge Café, rather than just bringing up a topic for discussion, began with a debate.

The two excellent debaters provided polar opposite views on the topic as a starting point for a larger discussion.

These views, I felt, established the environment for the larger discussion – encouraging honest and more provoking conversation than expected.

It effectively gave permission for us all to push the boundaries, and feel safe to do so.

Personally, I felt more confident to offer left-field views to the group than I would have done during a normal conference discussion.

Credit: Andrew Pope, Consulting Partner, Innosis
Andrew, wasn't the only one to comment on this. I am going to experiment more in light of this feedback.

Conversation is hard

"I'm afraid the senior managers in my organisation have got no interest in conversation. They see it as far too soft."

How many times have I heard that comment or something similar? Far too often, I am sorry to say.

I have a different perspective. Paradoxically, I think conversation isn't soft; I believe that it's extremely hard.

It is hard in two ways:

First, it's hard to convince people of the power of conversation. Such difficulty is not too surprising as few of us have experienced the types of compelling conversations that make a difference in our organizations.

Managers think they need to be seen to talk tough and argue and debate things and conversation or dialogue is soft and wooly. How many times do you hear that something needs to be debated, but you rarely hear that we need to have some creative dialogue?

We need both – dialogue and debate. Each has its place.

Second, conversation is hard in that it creates some solid outcomes. Making a decision may seem like a hard result. And of course, it is. But what if that decision is flawed. It's a hard outcome but a bad one. Now imagine a conversation that helps a group of people make sense of a situation and thus put them in a better position to make an improved decision.

Is this outcome – “improved understanding”- soft or is it hard? It's hard of course! Conversation is anything but soft and wooly.

FUD is a good thing

FUD – fear uncertainty and doubt. No, not the marketing sort of FUD but the kind of stuff in your head whenever change takes place.

It is OK to fear and question things. Having doubts and reservations is OK. It is a natural part of the thinking, reflection and commitment process.

Every new endeavour starts this way. If it doesn't then, the chances are that something is terribly wrong.

The last thing we should do is to stifle these thoughts. It is essential they are expressed openly. They should be actively solicited.

Coercing people to agree or to commit is one of the many destructive things we do to each other.

Expressing our true feelings is the start of a conversation that leads to ownership and commitment.
If we cannot say "no" then "yes" has no meaning.

Credit: Peter Block

Johnnie Moore's Unhurried Conversations

I love this idea from Johnnie Moore on unhurried conversation and an update here and may well experiment with it in one of my future Knowledge Cafés.

The idea is amazingly simple but at the same time powerful. In Johnnies's words:

"We invite up to 12 people via MeetUp. We don't specify a topic, rather letting people talk about whatever they want. Apart from briefly describing our idea, we use one very simple device to support the conversation.It's a talking piece. We pick an object and whoever holds it gets to talk. And everyone else listens. Which means the speaker won't get interrupted. (And I add that you can hold the object and not speak… you can hold silence until you're ready to speak.)"

And a comment of his:

"After lots of these conversations, I am appreciating more and more how surprising people can be, given a bit of space to think and express themselves. Conversations are rich and complex, with much less of the battling for attention we often experience."

Taking the time to have slow meandering, reflective conversations is never a waste of time. It's an investment in building relationships and all sorts of amazing insights and ideas can surface from them that are unlikely to be gleaned in any other way.

And I am totally with Johnnie, when he says we need less flip charts and post-it notes and other bells an whistles when facilitating such conversations. If anything worth noting or following through on surfaces it will get followed up on naturally. All the usual workshop paraphernalia just gets in the way of the conversation.

Call for book chapters on Organizational Learning

Idongesit Williams and a colleague Albert Gyamfi are editing a book titled "Evaluating Media Richness in Organizational Learning". The publisher of the book is IGI Global and is due by March 30th, 2017.

See the call for chapter proposals.

The deadline for submitting the proposal has been extended to the 20th June, 2016.

If history could be folded, where would you put the crease?

I walked past Southwark Tube Station during the week and could not miss this work of art - a huge eye level bill board that said:

"If history could be folded, where would you put the crease?"

What an amazing question! Where would you put the crease? Would you crease it vertically, horizontally or diagonally? Are there other ways of creasing it?

When designing my Knowledge Cafés, I often wonder what it is that makes a really good provocative question and I am trying to write something on the subject but I feel there is a "secret sauce" that I have yet to discern.

But this question, seems to hold out a clue. Is it something to do with metaphor?

Buying second hand books in mint condition

A few months back I ordered a second hand book from America via Amazon that was out of print. It took some weeks to arrive but it was in near mint condition at a fraction of the original price.

So a week or so ago, rather than ordering new copies of three books I wanted again via a Amazon I decided to buy them second hand. This time I ordered them from 3 separate UK suppliers to ensure I did not need to wait so long.

They all arrived within a few days and without exception they are as good as new. I could afford to buy them new - but why should I? In fact, it means I will buy more books :-)

I bought a few Kindle books a year or so back that in retrospect I wish I had bought as hardcopy. I may just go back and order them - second hand of course :-)

And the books:

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: May 2016

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.

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.

KM UK 2016
15 - 16 Jun 2016, London, United Kingdom

3rd European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2016
12 - 13 Jul 2016, Caen, France

CILIP Conference 2016
12 - 13 Jul 2016, Brighton, United Kingdom

Advanced Course in Knowledge Management
20 - 21 Jul 2016, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AU, United Kingdom

Innovations in Knowledge Organisation Conference
20 - 22 Jul 2016, Singapore, Singapore

Hong Kong Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise (MAKE) Award 2016
August 2016, Hong Kong, China

Knowledge Management Australia 2016
02 - 04 Aug 2016, Melbourne, Australia

17th European Conference on Knowledge Management
01 - 02 Sep 2016, Belfast, Ireland

13th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning
14 - 15 Oct 2016, New York, United States

8th International Conference on Innovation and Knowledge Management in Asia Pacific (IKMAP 2016)
23 - 24 Oct 2016, Kobe, Japan

KM World 2016
14 - 17 Nov 2016, Washington DC, United States

KM Asia 2016
16 - 17 Nov 2016, Hong Kong, China

KM Legal Europe 2017
18 - 19 Jan 2017, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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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