At the end of the day, as some would say (‘KM is about increasing the quality and frequency of conversations that get your job done’), in KM it’s all about conversations.
Conversations of contact-making (contextual webs)
Conversations of meaning-making
Conversations of joint exploration
Conversations of co-creation (in events and otherwise)
Conversations of trust building
Conversations of network weaving
Conversations of influence…
But: we’re not well-suited to have all these conversations with everyone any time. Because that trust is not there, because we don’t understand everyone else’s language, because we don’t know what motivates them, because…
So the trick is – for professional purposes – to converse as often, as deeply, as intentionally with as many people people that are interested or influential in the work you do, so you move away from a small opportunity to talk, towards a small chance to work together up to a major joint endeavour. bearing in mind:
- What you hope to and what you realistically can achieve with or vis-à-vis the person you’re conversing with…
- What degree of affinity you have with that/those person/s (remember the 50 shades of influence?);
- Simply what pleasure you derive from conversing with that/those person/s;
- And sometimes indeed just drifting by, letting yourself go gently together wherever the conversation takes you, without predefined end destination…
By doing so, you increasingly develop a rapport, trust (once again – and I really have to write a post entirely on this cornerstone of agile KM) so that you can move mountains.
Some ideas for conversing more effectively – if you want to influence things as you go forward:
- Converse with the non-converts – you can stick to your comfort zone but this world will change only when you start uniting fronts that are not directly bought to your cause. So go out there and engage!
- Bring eclectic mixes of people – the way Theodore Zeldin tried it at his dinners – as it is the surest way to get an interesting collage that resembles more the bigger picture than you yourself or you and your friends would be able to paint otherwise;
- Adopt unconventional standpoints to provoke reactions and additional layers to the conversation(s);
- Use techniques that push you to take other peoples’ perspectives to understand and shift perspectives… DeBono’s six-thinking hats is only one of various such methods…
But remember that conversations – although they should be enjoyed in and of themselves, simply – are always opportunities to move up on the scale of getting the next big thing done, the next big movement marching on.
So go out and converse, don’t be shy, that’s the way humanity has been going on and growing up… And this way you avoid dotty communication and that’s not a bad starting point 😉