Archive for the 'Complexity' Category

The Persuasion Paradox

Keith June 24th, 2013

“One way of talking that inhibits the exchange of knowledge is speaking with conviction.  That may seem contrary to what we’ve all learned in communication and leadership workshops, where one of the lessons often taught is to speak with confidence – “sound like you mean it”. Yet, as I examine conversations in the work setting, stating an idea with conviction tends to send a signal to others that the speaker is closed to new ideas.  When speaking with conviction people sound as though no other idea is possible, as though the answer is, or should be, obvious. “

Preaching

This quote is from Nancy Dixon’s recent blog post Bringing the Flow of Knowledge to a Standstill by Speaking with Conviction, cited by David Gurteen in his post To improve learning – don’t speak or write with conviction.

David also ties this concept in with a related concept about learning by Ellen Langer, from her book The Power of Mindful Learning. Her point is that if we are taught to do something by repetitive practice to the point that we can do it without thinking then we are unable to discovery or deal with situations that may require a different approach.

I would also like to introduce a third concept here – the idea that listening to inspirational teachers may be more enjoyable than listening to boring speakers, but that we actually don’t retain learning any better  from the inspirational speaker. This idea comes from recent research by Shana Carpenter, discussed by Annie Murphy Paul in the post Do We Actually Learn Anything From TED Talks?.

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Wildwood retreat

Keith April 22nd, 2011

So just over a month ago – just after landing back from my few days in Brisbane - I spent a few days down at Wildwood Retreat in Pennyroyal Valley with twelve other people.

We came together to talk about – and experiment with – various tools and techniques of group facilitation.  The retreat was arranged by Viv McWaters (@vivmcw) and Johnnie Moore (@johnniemoore), who had also just flown in from a couple of weeks of facilitation in the Solomon Islands and other places.

As much as it was about learning and doing stuff, it was about relaxing and having fun. I was there as Matt Moore (@engin_eer) had invited me. (Thanks, Matt!) Although I did already know some of the other people there, it was also a great time of meeting new people. It was also the first time that I had picked up a guitar for over a year – Geoff Brown (@geoffbrown3231) very kindly didn’t protest when I borrowed his every time he put it down!

Wildwood was a bit run down, as it was actually on the market, and the owner was no longer resident on site. The catering was excellent, and the location marvellous, but the nights were getting cooler, and the wood fire heating was rather short of fuel. Some of us tracked down some wood, and Geoff kindly wielded the splitter. Given my experience with wood fires at Blackwood, I got the Coonara going on the first morning there, and kept it stoked up for the duration. (For which I was christened “fireguy” by Johnnie.)

One of the highlights was the evening that I was sitting around fiddling with the guitar (or guitaring, I guess), and Johnnie suggested we improvise a song. After a bit of work, we got a chorus going, and improvised as many verses as we could as the others came into the room – and then ran away to the other end of the room as quickly as they could!

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The Art of Conversation

Keith January 20th, 2011

Some recent research has highlighted the transformative power of conversation. I presented on this topic at the Melbourne KMLF last night. This was one of three “Ignite” format presentations done on the night. This format requires twenty slides, timed at 15 seconds each. Total time per presentation – 5 minutes, plus discussion.

The slide pack, including speaker notes, is available at SlideShare. A list of references is also included on the Notes page of the last slide.

The main ideas drawn on for this presentation are as follows:

We also discussed the pros and cons of the format, with mixed results. I think that it is a great format, provided that it can lead into further discussion as required. We have just started using MeetUp for managing Melbourne KMLF events, so expect further discussion on the MeetUp post.

Making Collaboration Happen

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.

Presentation – The Idea Monopoly?

Keith June 25th, 2010

“Nearly 60 percent of projects aimed at achieving business change do not fully meet their objectives.” – IBM, 2008.

Why does this happen? As many working in Knowledge Management and related fields understand, it’s all about people and complexity. Organisations are increasingly dependent on people and what they know in order to operate successfully in today’s environment. It is no longer sufficient for organisational change to be driven by a small handful of people – there is no monopoly on ideas.

This is the topic of the presentation I delivered last Wednesday night at the Melbourne KMLF.  The slide pack is now available on SlideShare.

I have posted on this topic here before, and delivered an earlier version of the presentation at trampoline.  

Key points in this presentation are:

  • Recent insights into effective organisational change.
  • The impact of complexity and the importance of engaging people. 
  • Creativity and the wisdom of crowds. 
  • Social Media – the power of trust and openness.

For more background on the topics covered, here are some links to the material referenced:
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Culture, knowledge sharing and the Ocker

Keith May 7th, 2010

As part of some training material I have been writing for a client, I have revisited some related work I was engaged in some years ago.  One of the other authors I was working with then wrote a chapter on culture.  This work quoted a piece called Cultural variations in the cross-border transfer of organisational knowledge: an integrative framework, by R S Bhagat and others, from a 2002 edition of the Academy of Management Review.

This work describes national cultural patterns, and how they affect knowledge sharing.  Here is a simple summary diagram I have put together of the four basic types they described:

Culture & Knowledge Sharing

Both types of culture in the left column are independent and individualist, and predominantly Western. 

The top left quadrant is the domain of the rugged individualists.  They are mostly found in France, Germany, the UK and USA.  These people see each other as unique, and accept inequalities.  Thus they can naturally accept a social class structure.  They tend to hoard knowledge, and see this knowledge hoarding as power.  They like theoretical analysis.

The horizontal individualists in the bottom left domain see themselves as equal in status with each other.  Bhagat et al state that they also have “a relatively high tolerance for ambiguity and complexity”.   They are mostly found in Denmark, Sweden and Australia.  This is of particular interest, and will be discussed further.

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Engage, Energise, Empower

Keith March 15th, 2010

For some time I have been working with a team of highly-skilled consultants in a business consultancy group called “The 3e Factor”.  A new website for the group has just gone live. 

The 3e Factor is an innovative management consultancy specialising in business transformation, leadership development, and recruitment services, with its head office in Melbourne, Australia. Our focus is: Transforming Strategic Thinking into Reality by Developing Corporate Capability.

Have a look at the site, and browse the capabilities of the consultants working with the group.

Please feel free to contact me or The 3e Factor  if you would like to know more.

Trampoline presentation

Keith October 24th, 2009

I’ll be off to trampoline in just a few hours, with the intention of doing a presentation on “The Idea Monopoly?” I have blogged on this topic before, and you can see the slide pack on SlideShare here.

The topic of organisational change – and getting people more involved in it – is something I have been becoming quite passionate about for a while now.  This presentation at trampoline will be the first time I have presented on the topic. I intend to develop this work, and its linking themes, in time to come.  I am currently playing with a new term for this – “orgsourcing”. You heard it first here!

Mr. Conroy, you are Talking Cock!

Keith November 13th, 2008

Talking Cock (v.): A Singaporean term meaning either to talk nonsense or engage in idle banter.
 
- The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of traveling to Singapore on a number of occasions to speak at conferences.  I have greatly enjoyed the experience - both the conferences, and wandering around Singapore as a tourist.  I have met some fantastic people there, and have greatly enjoyed the culture – and the food!

Singapore is a land of contrasts.  It is richly multicultural, with all public signage in four languages.  The population is predominantly Chinese, yet most of the public institutions are as British as they were before independence.  It has earned a reputation as a non-democratic nation, yet the country is alive with art and innovation, and not in the least like a totalitarian state.  I feel safer walking around the streets anywhere in Singapore than I do in some parts of Melbourne.

Some would like to portray Singapore as a place where freedom of speech is suppressed by the government, yet Singapore is now becoming increasingly open. One friend I have made in Singapore is Enrico Varella.  Enrico introduced me to a fantastic local web site – Talking Cock.

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Problem solving

Keith June 26th, 2008

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problem just with potatoes.”
 - Douglas Adams

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