Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 141 - March 2012


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Gurteen Knowledge-Letter: Issue 141 - March 2012


  1 Introduction to the March 2012 Knowledge Letter
  2 Inspiring action is more important than gaining insight
  3 Any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong.
  4 KM mini-interviews with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA)
  5 Tuesday Conversations
  6 The easiest success measurement tool is a simple question
  7 Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes, 2 May 2012, London
  8 Making money or doing the work you love
  9 Offering free places to students at conferences
10 Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2012
11 Upcoming Knowledge Events: March 2012
12 Subscribing and Unsubscribing
13 The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the March 2012 Knowledge Letter    (top | next | prev)

I find it hard to believe that I have been blogging for ten years. My first blog post was on 26 March 2002. It wasn't much a post but it was a start.

Back then I was often laughed at for blogging. Few people in the business world saw their power. So much has changed in 10 years and more and more people are using blogs as powerful knowledge sharing tools but we still have a long way to go.

Here is a slightly modified version of an article I wrote for Inside Knowledge Magazine in 2006 on blogging and RSS feeds. I was using Bloglines as my RSS Reader then but it died a death a few years later and today I use Google Reader.

It is interesting to note how I called blogs by their full name "weblogs" - a form of the word that is rarely used today. And in the early days there was the concept of a knowledge-log or k-log - a term that never did catch on. My blog is still called the "Gurteen Knowledge Log"

I discovered weblogs back in 2002 when a colleague suggested I take a look at them. At first I stumbled across the mass of personal weblogs that held little interest for me but then I found a single weblog that changed my life.

It was unusual for a weblog in that it was co-authored by three people: Dan Bricklin, Bob Frankston and Dave Reed. I knew all three of these gentlemen from my days with Lotus Development in Cambridge Mass. Dan Bricklin was the inventor of the spreadsheet VisiCalc back in 1982; Bob Frankston was his co-developer and Dave Reed was the Chief Architect for 1-2-3 in the late 80s.

Here were three exceptionally bright, talented people blogging about the development of the Internet - they were sharing their thoughts, musings and ideas out loud. Instantly I saw the value of weblogs as knowledge sharing tools and by the end of the evening I had developed and integrated a weblog into my own website!

Back then I used to tell people about weblogs and their potential whenever I had the opportunity but few took the time to listen or understand. After one talk I gave on weblogs at a conference, a member of the audience was overheard to say "We have been blogged and klogged to death by David Gurteen." To which his friend replied "Yes he really ought to get a life." I still chuckle about this today.

But in the intervening four years more and more people have come to see the power of weblogs as powerful social tools - tools that allow people to share, learn and collaborate. But I am still shocked at people's head-in-the-sand mentality at times. Recently when I mentioned weblogs to a senior manager he replied "Oh you mean the ramblings of the ill-informed". When I explained their power I was greeted with the response "But how do people find the time to read them; never mind write them. They need to get a life".

But it's not about lack of time - we are already overloaded. It's about a lack of understanding of their benefits and prioritising our time accordingly. I subscribe to thirty or so RSS feeds - news channels that get pushed to my own personal "newspaper" each day. Some of these feeds are from the BBC and other mainstream media but many of the feeds come from weblogs and websites.

My RSS reader keeps me informed of all the things that are important to my professional development. The information obtained in them I could find no where else - not in books, magazines, newspapers or TV. I keep abreast of new products; new technologies and new ideas. I simply could not do my job without them!

So I still find it surprising when I come across against such resistance to weblogs and RSS readers. Too many people, to my mind, are prejudiced against them without ever taking the time to really understand what they are really about and their benefits.

You don't have to write a blog to benefit. Find an RSS reader such as Google Reader and start to subscribe to just a few of the millions RSS feeds on the web. Very soon you will wonder how you ever survived without it

Credit: Inside Knowledge Magazine 2006, David - Get a Life! by David Gurteen

Inspiring action is more important than gaining insight    (top | next | prev)

In the early days of Anecdote we believed the key purpose of story-listening was to gain insight.

Shawn wrote in a 2005 blog; "Listening to stories is one of the best ways to understand what is happening in a complex and dynamic situation ... Stories clarify the emerging patterns upon which effective interventions can be formulated."

What we have now come to realise is that, although stories do provide huge amounts of insight, the more important outcome of undertaking story-listening is that working with stories inspires action.

We see it time and time again. The energy changes in the room when people are immersed in stories from their own organisation.

The move from being spectators on the terraces to players on the pitch.

Our biggest challenge is sometimes stopping them leaving the workshop there and then to go and make some changes back in the office!

This was how Anecdote opened their February 2012 newsletter. It resonated with me as I find the same with my Knowledge Cafes. After all, the KCafe is as mcuh a platform for telling stories as it is anything else. Yes insight and improved understanding is important but being inspired to action more so.

Its all keeps coming back to that favourite quotation of mine

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

Any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong.    (top | next | prev)

When I first came across this article on Learning as Care I jumped to the conclusion that this was about teachers not caring.

Over the last few years it has become clear to me that whilst people certainly derive much of their learning from the mechanisms that we share with animals - classical and operant conditioning, observational learning - that there is a large area of human learning that works differently, and which we will never understand until we appreciate that learning is characterised by care. To put it another way: any theory of adult learning which does not place care at its centre is simply wrong.

But as I started to read, I realised that the post was all about the need for the learner to care not the teacher as I had first assumed. Some highlights from the post:

  • if people really cared about something we would have no work to do. And if we can't make people care, then we have usually done no work
  • we disseminate information without giving people a reason to care
  • we fail to provide learning resources to people who do care
  • don't tell people what is important, tell them why, tell the story
  • care is the central mechanism at the heart of all human learning - it governs both how we store information and how we subsequently use it

Some lessons here for KM, me thinks.

And once again, it brings me back to that favourite quote of mine from Plutarch.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

KM mini-interviews with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA)    (top | next | prev)

Ankur Makhija of eClerx Services informs me that they have recently uploaded a few more KM mini-interviews to their YouTube channel. The latest are with Edward Rogers (CKO Of NASA) and include:

  • Most Common KM Mistakes
  • Difference Between Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
  • Best Ways to Transfer Tacit Knowledge
  • When Are Case Studies Not Very Effective for KM?
  • Quantifying the Value of KM Initiatives

They are all short and well worth the time.

Tuesday Conversations    (top | next | prev)

I love the way that people have taken my Knowledge Cafe or the World Cafe and adapted it in various ways for a specific business purpose. Then on the other hand, many people have quite independently developed their own conversational processes that work well for them in their own environment.

I recently received this email from an old friend Paul Hearn who works for the European Commission in Brussels and thought I would share with you his story.

Hi David,

I saw your blog post about "holding conversations rather than meetings" and it inspired this email.

I've held more than 80 Tuesday Conversation meetings in the European Commission over the past 4 years. These are informal gatherings of staff (from the lowly secretary to the Director General) held over lunchtimes on Tuesdays.

I have listed some of the topics below - it is amazing what you can talk about in and around work! We've had around 2.000 attendees in total.

I invented the TC because there was nothing like it, and it was sorely needed.

I developed a methodology for this event based on the principles of Open Space
  • whoever come are the right people (we have had 1 person and up to 54, but the show still goes on)
  • must leave if you are not getting what you want (law of 2 feet)
I also developed some "guidelines for speakers", called TC spirit, which you might find amusing see below.

It is all work in progress and hangs together on a shoestring as I have no budget and no administrative support and I do it alongside my normal work ... but hey, who every got anything good for free? I certainly never got any recognition, but that is not why I did it :-)

A selection of recent topics

  • Science in Society: Ethics and new and emerging fields of science and technology
  • Supercomputing meets the cloud and the checkbook: The future of distributed computing infrastructures for Science in Europe?
  • Social innovation: Revolution or just spin?
  • The Save the Whale Project: Walking my Talk as a Sea Shepherd Antarctic Communications Officer
  • Strategy and Operations at the US National Science Foundation
  • Managing Innovation in the Health Sector: Challenges and opportunities
  • Decarbonisation of the Power Sector - The Role of Smart Grids
  • No Silver Bullet: Creative Commons and the Future of Open Licensing
  • Reshaping Scientific Knowledge - Dissemination and Evaluation in the Age of the Web
  • Discussion with Center for Research and Development Strategy Japan
  • Market Economy, Democracy and Human Nature: On the Societal Systems and their Governance
  • Cross-disciplinary Research Leading culture change and getting the message across
  • How European SMEs Use ICT to Engage in Global Virtual Collaboration
  • What's wrong with the EU ... Dr Hix's prescription
  • Confidence in the Digital Economy - Data Protection & privacy in Europe
  • Energy - Future Emerging Technologies
  • Measuring success of research policy: Setting milestones on a very long highway
  • Grid Activities and e-Infrastructures in China
  • Grid Computing in Peking University
  • Research Communication Costs, Emerging Opportunities & Benefits: Approaches and methods
  • Opportunities for Public Technology Procurement in the ICT-related sectors in Europe
  • 20/20 Vision Lessons from 20 years in the Commission, and the challenges for the next 20 years
  • The Open Innovation Paradigm - What is it? And how important is it?
  • Open innovation strategies: Examples from two large-scale projects in Sweden
Cheers Paul

Credit: Paul Hearn, European Commission, Brussels

And here are Paul's guidelines:

Spirit of our Tuesday Conversation Meetings

  • Powerpoint presentation only if absolutely necessary and in any case limited to 30 mins or so, so we can have a good conversation after for 60 mins
  • Generally we ask a lot of questions, and there is quite a lively debate. We also commonly interrupt speakers if we are not getting what we want.
  • As it is the lunch hour, people will be going in and out, sometimes arriving late and leaving early. Speakers should not see this as reflecting anyway on themselves or the presentation (participants are instructed to feel free to move around :-).

we try to capture the spirit of urgency:
  • we try to find out why we need to be discussing this topic? what is urgent? what has changed recently?
  • what is the opportunity? what are others doing around the world? what should we be doing?
  • would anyone be against such a strategy? if so, why?

we try to shoot from the hip:
  • Getting "off the record" with our speaker. It is very nice to know, for example, what our speaker really thinks, beyond any protocol or institutional viewpoint.
  • we look for personal views and anecdotes, not institutional views. We are more interested in "one (wo)man's dream" than in the official view of institution X or Y. We like to see personal passion.
  • we cut to the point
  • we are not particularly interested in introducing ideas at length, being exhaustive, crediting everyone involved, etc.
  • we are OK with slightly politically incorrect. We like to do some preliminaries like briefly introducing the speaker, context, but then we like to get to the meat of the discussion - what is this, and why does it matter, what is the vision here and do we share it?
we try to look forward, not back
  • we are interested in knowing what the opportunity is, what might change in Europe on in the world if we can realise a futuristic vision?
we like to be stimulated
    - we like presentations that pose more questions than they answer, and we like speakers who can be provocative, polemical and lead a debate.

Based on these thoughts, speakers are asked not to see this as a "normal meeting" (whatever that is), but as an informal meeting of staff from across the institution that are taking time out over lunch to learn something which is perhaps new and may help them in their work...

Credit: Paul Hearn, European Commission, Brussels

None of this is difficult. Why not start some "Tuesday Conversations" in your own organisation.

Paul says "I have no budget and no administrative support and I do it alongside my normal work" but that did not stop him.

The easiest success measurement tool is a simple question    (top | next | prev)

The easiest success measurement tool is a simple question. What did you do today to move forward?

The easiest project plan on earth is also a simple question. What will you do tomorrow to move forward?

At the end of each day, document your success and design your next move.

Ties in quite nicely with Snowden's view on KM.

Knowledge Management should be focused on real, tangible intractable problems not aspirational goals. It should deal pragmatically with the evolutionary possibilities of the present rather then seeking idealistic solutions.

Credit: Dave Snowden

Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes, 2 May 2012, London    (top | next | prev)

My next Knowledge Cafe workshop is in London on 2 May 2012.

As many of you know, I started running my public Knowledge Cafes in London 10 years ago out of my frustration with death-by-powerpoint type lectures. Very soon I found myself facilitating them privately for clients and discovering they had far greater power than I could ever have imagined.

They can be applied in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • transform traditional management training courses where younger managers learn from more experienced ones
  • as a powerful sales tool to engage with customers and thus better understand their needs and for them to better understand your product or service
  • surface hidden problems and opportunities that exist in the organisation or in a department or project - especially ones caused by lack of communication
  • help break down organizational silos and build internal relationships
  • give people a voice so that they feel heard and are thus less cynical and more engaged in their work
  • bring managers and technologists together after a merger to build relationships, surface new opportunities and address cultural issues
  • solicit input and obtain buy-in for a new project or initiative

In the workshop you will learn the fundamental principals and benefits of the Knowledge Café process and how to apply it to different business issues.

You will also participate in a Knowledge Cafe on the role of conversastion in business; experience the benefits first hand and get to reflect on and discuss the experience.

You will find more information here: (watch the first little video and you get an idea of the energy and passion KCafe conversations can generate).


Making money or doing the work you love    (top | next | prev)

I came across this quote in Fortune Magazine the other day.

We don't build services to make money, we make money to build better services.

Credit: Mark Zuckerberg. Fortune Magazine, p48, March 18, 2012

I am not sure I totally believe this of Mark and Facebook but it reflects my own view.

I don't work to make money, I make money to continue to do the work I love.

Credit: David Gurteen

Offering free places to students at conferences    (top | next | prev)

Spatial is a Kuwaiti Conference organiser who are organising a KM conference in Kuwait at the end of April.

This is what they say on their home page.

Spatial's Social Responsibility

In Spatial we believe that students are the country's future; therefore, we actively seek to involve them in our events. We dedicate free-of-charge at least 15 seats to students at our events. We also make available a corner for students to display their projects.

Credit: Spatial

This is a tremendous idea and I'd like to suggest to other conference organisers that they consider a similar offer to students.

Its an idea that I am picking up on and in future I will offer at least two free-of-charge places to students who would like to attend my workshops.

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: March 2012    (top | next | prev)

Here are what I consider some of my more interesting Tweets for Feb 2011 - Mar 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 Knowledge Events: March 2012    (top | next | prev)

This section highlights 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.

Kuwait Knowledge Management Conference
23 - 25 Apr 2012, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafes
02 May 2012, London, United Kingdom
The third in my recent series of "How to run a Knowledge Cafe" workshops to be held in London in May 2012

KM Legal 2012
15 - 16 May 2012, London, United Kingdom
I will be runuuning a Knowledge Cafe at this event.

II EDO International Congress
23 - 25 May 2012, Barcelona, Spain
I will be speaking at this conference.

KM UK 2012
13 - 14 Jun 2012, London, United Kingdom
I will be at KM UK again this year.

KMICe 2012 : 6th Knowledge Management International Conference 2012
04 - 06 Jul 2012, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM 2012)
04 - 06 Sep 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa
I plan to be participating in this conference.

KMWorld 2012
16 - 19 Oct 2012, Washington DC, United States

KM LatinAmerican 2012
22 - 26 Oct 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina

KM Asia 2012
06 - 08 Nov 2012, Singapore City, Singapore
I will be at KM Asia this year.

Subscribing and Unsubscribing    (top | next | prev)

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    (top | next | prev)

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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