Keith May 26th, 2014
We all like to have a chat with friends from time to time. Recent research has shown that this is not only a good thing to do, but that conversation – particular types of conversation – can actually make us smarter. It has been shown that conversations can improve the performance of groups and help us to be more innovative, as well as make us individually more capable at problem-solving. This article describes how meaningful conversations can be used to improve knowledge sharing and business outcomes, and summarises five rules for more innovative meetings.
As posted here before, I wrote a version of The Innovation Conversation a while ago for the Ark Group report Innovation and Transformation Through Knowledge Management, edited by Evie Serventi. This article is now available for download from this site.
Since then, a slightly condensed version of the article has also been published in the May 2014 issue of iKnow – The Magazine for Innovative Knowledge Workers. This magazine is issued twice a year by the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation – South-East Asia (IKI-SEA).
This time, my piece is presented as part of Conversation – An Overlooked Technology, a collection of articles on organisational conversation, guest-edited by David Gurteen for this issue of iKNOW. David explains the background of this work on his site.
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. “
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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Keith February 5th, 2013
“Recent research has shown that conversation is important for improving innovation. It has also been found that conversation improves group and individual performance and knowledge sharing. This article will address some of the principles of innovation and how conversational techniques can be harnessed to improve business outcomes.”
My previous article on The Art of Conversation has now been updated and published as a chapter in the Ark Group report Innovation and Transformation Through Knowledge Management, edited by Evie Serventi. This version is repitched as The innovation conversation. This came along just after I presented on the topic at KM-UK in London in June last year.
The report can be ordered from Ark Group here. You can also see the contents listing and a summary here.
Other chapter authors in this report include Dave Snowden, Stephanie Barnes, Debra Amidon and Nick Milton.
Keith January 21st, 2013
I am going over my notes for a university workshop on language that I am running tomorrow, and am once again reminded why I find both the government and opposition rhetoric on asylum seekers so abhorrent.
In 2011, 4,565 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by boat – less than 3 per cent of our total permanent intake in that year (ASRC). Why should this be considered as sufficient for us to require better ”border protection”? This policy does have a precedent:
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
“… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
- Hermann Göring, 18 April 1946 (Gilbert, GW 1947, Nuremberg Diary).
Keith April 25th, 2012
Seems I’ve been featured in IABC Victoria online properties three times recently.
I was interviewed in March on The link between comms and knowledge management for the chapter blog, and I was profiled in the February Connect newsletter.
Now I am the subject of an article published on the main web site – Tweak your business conversations to achieve more, highlighting the topic that has been discussed on this blog before, and mentioning my upcoming appearance at KM-UK in London in June.
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 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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Keith April 16th, 2011
So today I presented this topic at trampoline. Trampoline is a “self-organising event for those who find the world interesting, have something to offer and share, and have an inquisitive mind”. I’ve been at some of the earlier trampoline days, and it’s great to get back and get energised again!
This morning, I presented on the same topic as my last KMLF presentation – see this post for the details. This time, I have tweaked the presentation a little, and had the luxury of enough time to get the audience engaged in the conversation. Since the KMLF presentation, I have also written an article on this topic for Online Currents, which is being published this month. A copy of the article will be posted here a little while after the magazine is out.
The new slide pack is now up on SlideShare. One thing that has emerged from this work that is added to this version of the presentation is my proposed Innovative Meeting Test:
- Have we all been introduced?
- Is everyone open and willing to change?
- Are we all taking equal turns?
- Is the talk friendly and constructive?
- Do we have sufficiently diverse viewpoints?
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.