Keith June 11th, 2011
David Gurteen has recently posted an article comparing his Knowledge Café concept and World Café, which are similar processes, but with “some subtle but significant differences”.
As I have been doing a fair bit of both work and writing on collaboration recently, I have been attempting to sharpen up my own ideas about these techniques and the differences. In practice, I tend to modify the techniques to match the context, rather than necessarily follow a strict format, but it is useful to understand the origins and strengths of the different approaches.
David has spelt out the differences quite thoroughly in his article, but I thought that it may be helpful to put together a bit of a summary here, also drawing on my own experience and observations.
| World Café
|Started in 1995.
||Started in 2002.
|Described in community language.
||Described in business language.
|Used to address social issues and build community.
||Used to address business issues and build business communities.
|Defined structure and process.
||Structure and process can be adapted to meet business needs.
|Uses Table Hosts.
||Does not use Table Hosts.
|The results of conversations are “harvested”.
||The conversations themselves are important – results are not normally harvested.
As David is at some pains to point out, he is not saying that there is anything wrong with the World Café approach – it is just different. Each approach has its place and purpose.
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Keith May 9th, 2011
Further to previous posts here on the transformative power of conversation – the Ignite presentation at KMLF, and the trampoline presentation - I have now also written an article on the topic, which was published by Thomson-Reuters’ Online Currents last month.
This article has documented in a little more detail the recent research that highlights how conversation can actually make us smarter and more innovative – this research is from:
- Anita Williams Woolley et al, who found that “small groups demonstrate distinctive ‘collective intelligence’ when facing difficult tasks”.
- Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From, on cultural progress and how innovation really works.
- Oscar Ybarra et al, showing that even brief, friendly conversations can improve individual mental function.
This research is summarised and drawn together in the article, along with other thoughts on conversation, change and social media.
Download a copy of the article here.
Keith February 20th, 2011
We know all about explicit knowledge – it is visible and tactile, and has been recorded in libraries since Sumerian times. Tacit knowledge, however, is somewhat harder to tie down. This is the knowledge inside peoples’ heads. We often attempt – with varying degrees of success – to convert it into an explicit form so we can better measure and account for it. However, one of the best ways to handle tacit knowledge is for people to simply work together with it, and talk about it. This article investigates one of the most effective ways of dealing with tacit knowledge in organisations – Communities of Practice – and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of the words “community” and “practice”, as well as an understanding of the place of technology.
So begins the latest version of my thoughts on Communities of Practice – this time, in an article in the Thomson Reuters publication Online Currents. A full copy of this article is now available on this site.
This extends the ideas in my earlier article The theory and practice of communities.
Keith November 16th, 2010
I presented on this topic at Ark Group’s Collaboration Site Visits event in Sydney on 8 September. The Slide Pack is now available on SlideShare here. This was a half-day workshop, and it was delivered in three parts. The title was, of course, intentionally misleading – the whole point is that you can’t really make collaboration happen – you need to set up the right environment to support it.
The first part addressed the dynamics of collaboration and CoPs – a discussion about community. This is built on articles I have written previously, one of which is discussed on this site. This also refers to Stan Garfield’s Communities Manifesto.
The second part provided some of the outcomes of the work Matt Moore and I did in our survey and report OzCollab – Collaboration Software in Australia. We then broke into a collaborative exercise, using another card game involving Patrick Lambe’s KM Method Cards.
The final part of the session then addressed the approach to participative change that has also been discussed here before – The Idea Monopoly. This highlights the need for creativity, trust and openness in today’s complex organisations, and draws on the Cynefin model and other recent research.
Keith March 8th, 2009
Without clear thinking, valuable work may grind to a halt
The following is the introduction to an article that I wrote, published in the November/December KM Review.
Despite everything that the modern KM practitioner knows about communities, collaboration and technology, communities of practice (CoPs) often fail and collaboration often breaks down. In order to establish an effective CoP, it’s necessary first to think about the nature and structure of a community and recognize that it’s an entirely different entity from a work group or a project team. As such, it must be treated differently, too. In this article, author Keith De La Rue examines the pitfalls associated with CoPs and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of three words: “community”, “practice” and “technology”.
Read the full article.
Keith September 25th, 2008
I wrote earlier this year about “Practice, Communities and Technology“. This post stressed the importance of the “practice”:
For a CoP to be successful, the community must become part of the practice itself… the community needs to become part of how they do their job.
People in an organisation will just not do things that aren’t part of their job accountability and that they see no point in doing.
Just today I hit on a really neat metaphor to illustrate this…
Continue Reading »
Keith July 23rd, 2008
How An Unknown Artist’s Work Became a Social Media Brand Thanks To the Power of Community – another story about the power of sharing, and social media: The Fail Whale.
This story shows the value of open content. By making an artwork freely available, an artist “is now going to profit in more ways than if she had simply made the art available for purchase.” See more of the artist’s work here.
I just love these stories. This again highlights the new direction for life and commerce made possible by social media.
Keith March 29th, 2008
Why do Communities of Practice sometimes fail?
In my experience, one common failure is just throwing technology at a problem. I have no problem with wikis and other technology – communities probably work best when they have appropriate support technology – but communities are fundamentally about people.
So, before you think about technology, you must first think about the community. Seems fairly obvious! There are lots of things you can do to bring a community together that require very little in the way of technology.
However, this is not the whole story. I was present when Dr Ron Harper, late of RMIT, spoke to a group recently (a community of practice, in fact) on this topic. Ron made the point that the important thing for a successful CoP is, in fact, the Practice.
When I look back at successful communities I have known, this rings very true. A successful community must have a reason to exist.
It should be pointed out here that a CoP is not a work group or a project team. Work groups and teams certainly have a reason to exist, but they are also motivated in a totally different way. They exist as an entity within an organisation, with a common management structure, and defined deliverables within that structure.
Continue Reading »
Keith November 9th, 2007
KMLF member Bill Hall has volunteered to help organise a knowledge café as part of a world-wide set of meetings being held in November, coordinated by the Association of Knowledge Work, to explore possible roles for and establishment of a knowledge-based futures centre.
“There is a wave of enthusiasm for reinventing the community as something more than an online forum – where we can use our capabilities and networks to explore some of the larger problems facing our societies and organizations as we move into the future. The proposal is to reshape AOK as a Future Centre, one definition of which is a physical and virtual environment for empowering innovation.”
This will be held at the East Melbourne Library, on Friday 16 November. Read all the details and info on the KMLF blog.
Keith November 7th, 2007
A belated note from the Enterprise Change Management conference in KL at the end of August:
“The context for most structured data lies in unstructured data. The IT industry has come a long way in managing structured data, but has a long way to go yet in managing unstructured data. The two are handled totally separately.”
- Alan Pelz-Sharpe, CMS Watch
Next week, I will be in Sydney at two conferences for Ark Group: Driving Effective Intranet Delivery in the Public Sector and Promoting a Culture of Knowledge in the Public Sector. I am talking about Maintaining the currency and accuracy of content at the first of these, and Using social media to engage stakeholders and the community at the second – a late inclusion in the program.
After realising that Matt Moore and I would be somewhat overlapping in our content, we are now planning a double act – should be a bit of fun!
If you are in Sydney, and would like to catch up, drop me a line!