A knowledge management primer (3): JKLMNO

The KM alphabet primer continues (Credits: Le web pedagogique)

The KM alphabet primer continues (Credits: Le web pedagogique)

This is a new series of posts, an alphabet primer of agile knowledge management (KM), to touch upon some of the key concepts, approaches, methods, tools, insights in the world of KM. And because there could have been different alternatives for each letter I’m also introducing the words I had to let go of here.

Today, after the ABC of KM and the next six letters (DEFGHI), I’m pursuing the alphabet discovery with JKLMNO.


J for Journey

Any and every KM initiative is a journey unto itself and because it is a learning journey with no fully guaranteed results, the journey matters as much as the destination. It brings up lots of ideas, feedback, insights and more.

J could also have been…

Journaling – A great practice for documentation, journaling (as blogging is) has the potential of revealing deeper patterns that explain a lot of things. For KM, journaling on the KM initiative, documenting the process, and even impressions of individuals involved can be the difference between success and failure, between quick and slow, between good quality and sloppy.

Knowledge (Credits: Iqbal Osman)

Knowledge (Credits: Iqbal Osman)

K for Knowledge

Of course, what else? Knowledge is the capacity to turn information to action, and if it’s the sum of insights we have, but not a commodity that can be transferred. There are many (also visual) understandings of knowledge. I’m just offering my definition here. But knowledge is certainly what puts KM in a mystical world, as it relates to how our brains work and how we connect with each other to form a collective intelligence.

K could also have been…

Know-how – Next to what we know there are also many processes set know that help us to do things. Practical knowledge, hands-on, instructional stuff to move from theory to practice, including practice smarts.

L for learning

I wouldn’t leave the last part of my definition of KM as it is the most important one to justify the existence of knowledge management. And whether it’s about learning how to retain institutional memory or how to innovate, learning is the driving force to make us every better equipped to deal with challenges and to increase our capacity to adapt and anticipate, to be resilient etc.

L could also have been…

Management versus Leadership (Credits: David Sanabria)

Management versus Leadership (Credits: David Sanabria)

Leadership – leadership is the vision that drives initiatives, shows the way  and rallies support all along. No KM endeavour survives without strong leadership and leading by example – and innovating. And this is true at all levels, not just about top management. The KM project leader, management and personnel alike must demonstrate that sort of leadership – but they can only do so if they have all been properly involved and empowered to do so of course.

Library – Libraries used to be the crude epitome of knowledge management in the times of old. The vast quantity of information that codified the knowledge of the ancients was so great that it’s no wonder the first era of KM wanted to mimic this in the digital world. But that was not enough. Online brochures’ advocates learned that at a high cost.

M for Management

Leadership is key in KM. But management is also very important. Managing change, managing assets, managing processes, managing tools and managing people to make sure all these elements work in synergy and support each other.

M could also have been…

Monitoring – Part of the management of KM is monitoring how it is going, collecting metrics that give indications of visibility, use, appreciation and gains in produce of any kind. Monitoring is at the heart of learning and thus of KM too – even though it is usually the reason why people give up on KM because it is so difficult to go beyond the use of information platforms and learning processes to point to what people are doing with it.

Meta tags – An essential element of curation are the meta tags that allow to describe a resource and make it easier to retrieve later through search.

N for Network

From networkshops to communities of practice and assessing networked value, from personal learning networks to engaging in social networks, networks are ubiquitous. The world of KM in 2016 cannot avoid this fact, and it explains why so much emphasis goes nowadays on distributed learning, on massive open online courses, on cultivating personal learning networks etc. Knowledge management always was a network thing in itself. It now hast just become utterly obvious.

Networks, interconnection (Credits: Rob/FlickR)

Networks, interconnection (Credits: Rob/FlickR)

N could also have been…

Your suggestions?

O for Open 

If the ultimate goal of knowledge management is to connect and convert everyone to cultivating our collective intelligence, then a general state of Open-ness is central to it. Open knowledge, open source, open access, working out loud and all the rest of it.

The reality is still a bit more subtle than this: in certain areas where the mindset is not all that open, agile KM has to create safe closed spaces where progressively people can taste the power of Open, little by little, in smaller groups first. But open KM is almost a tautology.

Open Knowledge

Technology and community: don’t get mistaken about the real deal

Most people who are approaching knowledge management -for the first time- from the standpoint of building a community end up focusing on technology.

Technology just enhances communities. It expands the opportunities that communities bring but it doesn’t create communities, and it can also worsen communities if the technology is not user-friendly or if the community faciltator(s) does not know how to use it properly.

Community and technology (Credits: Nancy White)

A bit of history on community and technology (Credits: Nancy White)

So why this focus on technology?

Because it’s hard to build a system, to have a functional tool, to provide ‘office-approved’ technology. A rutilating toy coming out of the shelves.

The technology feels to most of these people building KM community systems like the 80% of the work. And yet the 20% that remains – community building and development – is what really takes 80% of the time.

Technology creating platforms for communities to flourish (Credits: OCLC.org)

Technology creating platforms for communities to flourish (Credits: OCLC.org)

This is why it is very important to invest in cultivating healthy human systems before anything else…

That’s why soft skills are more important than hard systems; that’s why facilitation matters more than engineering (for these communities); that’s why listening is more important than programming; that’s why patience beats quick development…

Technology is and may always be only a proxy, an enabler, not the actual deal.

Funny, I drafted this 2 weeks ago, and this topic is what Bevery Trayner just wrote about on her blog. Go check it, it’s quality! Funny serendipity at work… technology enabling a community of ideas…

Related blog posts:

Knowledge management in cartoons – A selection

KM in cartoons, a selection (Credits: Shutterstock)

KM in cartoons, a selection

Because good visuals pin an idea with so much more strength…

And fun helps move sensitive ideas forward…

Hereby a selection of cartoons that may help you and others understand the value of knowledge management, through the challenges KM is facing or the initiatives it proposes to deal with them.

Challenge: reinventing the wheel

Initiative: helping ideation and covering new grounds (and pissing people off in the process)

Credits: unclear

Dealing with innovation (Credits: A. Bacall)

Challenge: retaining peoples’ experience and knowledge

Credits: MTN / George Dearing

Initiatives: portals and databases

KM portals and databases (Credits: Grantland)

Challenge: recognising information needs

Recognising information needs (Credits: Scott Adams)

Initiative: building taxonomy

An example of taxonomy (Credits: The New Yorker / Green Chameleon)

Challenge: Dealing with information overload

Dealing with email or information overload (Credits: Pryor)

Initiative: knowing what to do with what you know – and setting standards

Knowing what to do with what you know (Credits: A. Bacau)Knowing or doing (Credits: B. Watterson)
Setting data standards (Credits: XKCD)

Challenge: dealing with difficult dynamics in meetings and events

Dealing with difficult dynamics at events (credits: Oslo)Initiative: Trying new ways of dealing with conversations, meetings, events (err, what about facilitation?)

How about trying something new for your meetings? (Credits: T. Goff)

And to keep some healthy distance from the fact that KM is not the ‘be all, end all’, the last couple of cartoons are for Dilbert, preceded by one by Christian Young:

Bad knowledge management (Credits: Christian Young)

KM for morons? (Credits: Scott Adams / United Feature Syndicate)

Hoarding and sharing knowledge (Credits: Scott Adams)

Related blog posts:

What do I DO about learning?

I talk a lot about learning on this blog. Because in my definition of knowledge management, it’s a central part. So the equation is KM = CDL. But the conversation and documentation parts feed that learning. As is also the case in Jaap Pels’s KM framework:

Jaap Pels's KM framework

Jaap Pels’s KM framework

But what do I do exactly, concretely, at my level, both for myself and the initiatives I’m part of, to walk my talk on KM and learning?

Conversations (C)

I’m having many conversations with many people. But let’s focus on the conversations around KM perhaps. I’m having those conversations with colleagues in my team, in my organisation, in the projects I’m part of, in the networks I’m part of (KM4Dev first and foremost), and with a host of people I come across in the meetings and events I facilitate or if I just bump into them. Though because it’s difficult to explain what KM means and what I do about it, I don’t always jump on the topic of KM with them.

I’m also having lots of conversations online with my personal learning network. On this blog, obviously, but also on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Google+, on others’ blogs. Here’s how I do it for now:

  • I rarely use Facebook for KM, unless there’s something that matters to a much wider group of people than the KM community
  • I use Google+ more for the KM-focused conversations, as I use that social network in a rather professional perspective. But I don’t engage on Google+ very much these days
  • I comment on others’ blogs when their topics really strongly resonate with my interests – it’s the ‘engagement’ gift of attention that I use here. And occasionally I refer to posts on my own blog on these comments
  • I use Twitter to post information but occasionally to also react on others’ contents, to share perspectives. The limitations of characters put a boundary to this engagement though
  • On LinkedIn I also react on others’ writing and sometimes I participate to conversations from groups, but again it has to be something that is very close to my heart because I don’t spend much time on LinkedIn otherwise

And I’m having a conversation with myself on this blog, when I think about topics or I play with ideas that I would like to put to blogging later.

Back to learning, some of these conversations are totally open and free-for-all, and others are exploratory, intentional. At a certain stage some of these intentional conversations become more analytical, including the conversation with myself on this blog. And that’s how I prepare for learning, as I also move on to…

Documentation (D)

This is the part where some of the thoughts and insights I’ve had with people have resonated so much that I need to put them in writing (and also because my memory’s not that great and ‘stuff’ disappears from my brain’s hard drive if I don’t capture it in a way or another).

The ways I document these insights?

  • Obviously on this blog, when a thought is sufficiently well-formed in my mind
  • But usually before that I put them in a proto-blog on TumblR, or on a Google doc where I list my ideas for the blog
  • I also capture some insights on Twitter at times, and I probably should do more to connect that with my TumblR and blog
  • I note down most conversations I’m part of, on my Samsung note app or in Word on my computers
  • In my organisation, I also document some of these insights on our Yammer network(s), and on our LinkedIn group or other such platforms
  • There are other blogs I use to document reflections, for instance the Maarifa blog we have at ILRI comms/KM to document all the work we do on comms and KM

In most conversations I end up, I actually keep track of the main insights and ‘to do’s’ as it seems I’m not the only one who tends to forget what was said in the absence of written records, so it’s useful for me and all to take notes.

For me, putting things in writing is one of the surest ways to remember things and make sure I act upon them, so it’s part of that intentionality that I think is a crucial accelerator of learning.

2014-01-06 Learn how you learn//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Learning (L)

And finally learning is really the combination of these elements. But I do other things to sharpen my learning:

  • I ask for feedback a lot – from my colleagues and friends, from you readers of this blog, because I value that feedback as one of the best ways to go forward and grow
  • I also have a daily after action review to find out what I think I did well and what I could have improved, and at the end of the week I review these for the entire week and reflect a bit more on what I want to or would do with these insights
  • I try new activities every so often (e.g. Yoga, meditation, running) and I try to use them to also improve my own learning, not pushing it but seeing if it helps. And for instance running helps me generate ideas, meditating helps me shift my attention to other important aspects etc.
  • In planning my work I also take a bit of time reflecting on the ways I do my work (single and double loop learning)
  • And as much as possible, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as I would like, I try to reflect on holidays over my life and work. This is when I consider the ways I learn (triple loop learning). Though with two young children that I love, I find it quite difficult to block that quality time.

What are your practices around conversing, documenting and/or learning generally and specifically? What do you think about the above and what is missing you think?


Related blog posts:


TRUST is the truth

Trust Me - John Everett Millais, 1862

Trust Me – John Everett Millais, 1862

What will be left from our existence on this planet? If you’re Barack Obama or a super dictator, some mention in history books. But for most of us, nothing much that is visible per se, not as a legacy we leave behind individually.

But there are two things I believe strongly in, when it comes to immortality – and not for the sake of leaving traces of yourself, but for the sake of leaving some stepping stones for people after you to build upon…

  1. The place to start building something good is within our core family, our couple, our children, other relatives that matter to us, our friends (our non-biological family). Because if we miss that scale, how can we pretend building something that lasts anywhere else?
  2. The other place to start with collective (or community) initiatives where you embrace a holistic vision but really try to build something simple and strong, together with others.

Both of these require an essential element: trust.

As I pointed in an earlier post, Dave Pollard wrote a beautiful post about What makes us trust someone? No need to cover that more.

I want to briefly insist here on why we need trust. Why trust is the truth – and that is because trust gets you to longer-term (‘sustainable’ ;)) results and it also gets you more quickly to these results. Although the very act of building trust itself takes much time.

And then I want to move forward a bit to look at how trust intersects specifically with the world of agile KM.

One could imagine there are (at least) three types of sources that trust draws from:

  1. Information-based trust
  2. Knowledge-based trust
  3. (experiential) Learning-based trust

Information-based trust is what makes us believe a source of information is more reliable than another one – this is where we need science more than ever.

Dave Pollard's elements of trust building

Dave Pollard’s elements of trust building

Knowledge-based trust is the trust that we create when sharing knowledge with our connections and exploring our world views together – thus particularly looking at the second block in Pollard’s triple-tier trust genesis. Going beyond the sensory/chemical signals.

Learning-based trust mirrors the same point of Pollard on ‘positive collaborative experiences’. The old saying of ‘involve me and I will remember’ (or a variation thereof) takes a parallel meaning when we are talking about joint experiences. Nothing like working together, muddling through things together, learning together to generate solid trust.

What to make of trust in agile KM?

  1. Build everything you can to make your information trustworthy. Follow a rigorous process of verification and state clearly where your possible flaws are and where your work needs to be expanded or adapted by others. Get referred to by other credible sources of information. So much for information-based trust.
  2. Move conversations up the trust ladder by having as many and as deep conversations as you can with as many people, especially the skeptics. This is how you expand knowledge-based trust.
  3. Co-create products, build processes jointly, undertake movements collectively, get at it, get deep into your work with partners but do something, fashion your world with others, as that is the ultimate source of trust and what gets all nodes of the collective human grid connected and all capacity expanded. And that is the single one thing that is more valuable than your presence which you can give others and the world: the gift of your active dedication.

At last, perhaps above all else trust that trust is the truth and a genuine intention to cherish it in society (the ‘societal trust’ alluded to by Olaf doe in this recent post by Nancy White) because if we lose it, the world turns as dark as the most totalitarian or extremist corners of humanity.

Related blog posts:

Opportunity costs of documentation and how to make it work…

In my book of KM, documentation is an essential part of the work.

Documentation - do you read it (Credits: Matt Ray / FlickR)

Documentation – do you read it (Credits: Matt Ray / FlickR)

Not everyone agrees to it. Someone who works a lot with Liberating Structures recently told me he didn’t necessarily see the point of harvesting anything because the people that were ‘doing the work’ would remember.

But then there’s always the point of documenting for the sake of the people who are not ‘doing the work’ there and then. Keeping traces so others can pick up the trail and use it in ways that help them.

However the question always remains: what should you document (e.g. what is good in a project) and how much should you invest in documenting it – and how – vs. how much you should set up processes to directly connect people with relevant experience?

This is the eternal debate of documentation vs. one-on-one experience sharing, of Alexandrian libraries vs. campfires – something that is currently being debated on KM4Dev around the title “How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience” (link pending on membership).

Yes, Alexandrian libraries are only a partial solution because they don’t relate a lot of the complexities. And as Johannes Schunter pointed recently on his blog, lessons learnt that generate bland statements are useless (the ‘Duh’ test).

And there is the issue that documentation takes time and effort. Not everything can be documented, everywhere, all the time, by everyone. It’s the same opportunity cost as for monitoring and evaluation (for which we can also adopt a somewhat agile approach).

Here are some ideas to identify what to document and how:

What to document?

  • What is new?
  • What is significant?
  • What’s been done about this already (in some form or shape)?
  • What is simple (and can be codified into principles or best practices)?
  • What is complicated (but can still follow good/next practice)?
  • What is complex and inter-related about this?
  • What is unknown?
  • What is helping us ask the next best questions?
  • Who knows more about this
  • What could be useful next steps?

How to document?

  • Develop templates for documentation for e.g. case studies (link pending KM4Dev membership);
  • Keep it simple: as little information as needed to inform people, but linked sufficiently well to other sources;
  • Develop a collective system where people can add up their experiences and insights (e.g. the KS Toolkit) – make sure you have one place that people recognise as the go-to site for this information;

How to prepare that documentation work? And this is the most important part.

  • Stimulate your own documentation through blogging, note taking, managing a diary etc. It always starts and ends at the individual level – as the constant knowledge gardeners we should be;
  • Make sure your documentation is related to conversations (as Jaap Pels also recommends in his KM framework) so that you get an active habit of identifying;
  • Make sure you have formal and informal spaces and times for these conversations to erupt, both at personal level with our personal learning networks, within teams, within organisations, across organisations (e.g. in networks) etc.;
  • Develop abilities for documentation (which is part of the modern knowledge worker’s skillset);
  • Develop a strong questioning approach where you are constantly working on foresight, trend watching, complex tradeoff assessments etc.;
  • Role model documentation of the important aspects emerging from learning conversations, to stimulate a culture of intelligent documentation;
  • Assess how your documentation makes sense and what is required – and this is the art and science of documentation, to strike the balance between time inputs and learning/productivity outcomes…
Documentation as the next opportunity? See this 'Documentation Maturity Model' (Credits: Mark Fidelman / FlickR)

Documentation is an interesting KM opportunity for many people. See this ‘Documentation Maturity Model’ (Credits: Mark Fidelman / FlickR)

How do you approach documentation in your conversations?

Related blog posts:

Agile KM from ‘SMART goals’ to ‘practice SMARTS’

The game of knowledge management has changed.

Despite the definitions given to knowledge management (see this useful post by Stan Garfield – and my own definitions of knowledge and knowledge management), KM really is no longer about managing knowledge-related assets as a taxidermist. It certainly is no longer about databases and catch-all portals (despite some tendencies). It’s not even really about communities of practice anymore either (however great – and tricky – these are)…

Change from SMART goals to SMART practices (Credits: Simon Webster / FlickR)

Change from SMART goals to SMART practices (Credits: Simon Webster / FlickR)

Instead, KM now has to be agile – not like a prescribed Agile / Scrum / Kanban kind of way (though each methodology has useful ideas). No, it’s about being generally agile, a combination of resilient and innovative, ever-adaptive, embracing perpetual beta as Harold Jarche would put it.

It’s about being smart, individually, and smarter, collectively – or smartest as we develop healthy human systems.

But SMART here is not the same as the monitoring acronym standing for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

What I propose instead is to think of SMARTS as a practice code to turn useful habits into our behavioural identity and eventually let us all become a strong network node in our collective sense-making. The practices mentioned below can actually change our identity towards:

  • Speedy
  • Multi-purpose
  • Anticipating
  • Reflective
  • Trustworthy
  • Sharing and showing this approach together

Speedy is because we need to react quickly. Agile KM for collective SMARTS is about turning things around quickly, fast iterations, fast failure, fast improvement, reacting on the dot, not letting information go through the endless tunnels of polishing and editing to publishing perfection… It’s about quick & dirty for faster and stronger feedback loops and acting upon the opportunities right at the moment when they present themselves.

Multi-purpose because agile KM (and innovation) is not about reinventing the wheel – despite its occasional usefulness – but about applying and recombining existing bits. Reformatting for different channels (PC, mobile, tablets); versioning for different audiences based on the same raw information. And with multi-purpose comes multi-perspectives, the multiple knowledges that matter when dealing with complex problems as IKM-Emergent pointed out.

Anticipating change is the name of the game. Always being on the lookout for what is going to affect you next, what is going to create tradeoffs. Individually we must be aspirational in our decision to move somewhere, towards a certain direction and objective, and develop our pathway to get there. Collectively we must be inspirational for each other, modeling useful positive deviance and visioning a common future that looks brighter than the here and now. But remaining realistic as to where on our journey we are, and what obstacles lie ahead on the way. Anticipating is about visioning that pathway for a positive change, at all times.

Reflective is our modus operandi in the social age and the world of change. Not only to anticipate future changes, but also to absorb the maximum learning from what just happened, and generally to learn how to sail along pattern currents in the sea of change. Being reflective is about documenting the change affecting us personally and the ecosystem around us. And it moves to becoming increasingly reflexive, learning to reflect about our reflection, moving through learning loops

Being Trustworthy is an imperative in our individual quest to becoming ever better networked. Trust is the currency of the social age. How do you generate trust? Dave Pollard suggests it is developed at the junction of positive chemical/sensory signals, shared/appreciated world views and positive collaborative experiences. In the social SMARTS age, trust also happens through consistency, quality (of the stuff we develop or share) and authenticity.

Sharing and showing this approach with/to others is the final stage to make sure we are not just SMART ourselves, individually, but we develop our collective SMARTS as these human systems we hope to improve together – because we care. We are eminently social but that social nature still requires active, a sense of purposeconsistency and working on changing our habits and behaviour, so we don’t revel in the happy square of wishful thinkers – for others (I want YOU to change). And building habits together is easier, as every fitness starter knows. Our habits can start there.

As IBM would put it: let’s build a smarter planet together… also through agile KM practice SMARTS.

Let's build a smarter planet together (Credits: IBM)

Let’s build a smarter planet together (Credits: IBM)

Related blog posts

Experiential learning and the power of questions in motion (Ramblings and mumblings around…)

No focused post this week, too much is brewing in my mind. All possible walks of my professional life are in utmost effervescence or have just been put to a complete stop. A whirlwind of destructive-creative energy, and many ideas are seeping out of its trail. I am just walking forward with these ideas, shaping them up as I walk on.

So what is animating me?

How to pass on learning from experiences…

A great KM4Dev conversation, actually emerging from the combination of two different trails (which you can follow directly on the Dgroup if you are a member):

The SECI model keeps on raising eyebrows (Credits: UKEssays)

The SECI model keeps on raising eyebrows (Credits: UKEssays)

This is the great debate of combination-internalization vs. socialization-externalization. Or in other words: documenting and codifying vs. sharing and learning.

It also relates to a question I asked myself a while back: What is good in a project?

Before that, however, here’s one very interesting (f not really new) comment from one of the conversation participants:

How do you incorporate learning loops (that are not reports) in the projects you are engaged in? (Beverly Wenger-Trayner)

The difficulty of the debate on what to record vs. what to share in other ways relates to the complexity of tasks at hand: best practices can be highly codified in texts, documents, videos etc.; good practices can be listed; but appropriate practices for a given complex situation can only be explored as we move forward, sharpening our questions – putting our questions in motion. There is no giving guidelines on how to deal with it.

At the other end of that double-sided conversation, was the toolkit conversation, which also hints at the codification of practices to guide better practices. And here comes another insight from another conversation participant:

The learning step comes first, then choice of  toolkit follows – yes? Many toolkits don’t distinguish WHEN to use WHICH tool in a learning spiral. (Valerie Brown)

Yes: How to organize toolkits in a way that they can guide people through either simple, complicated or complex situations (arguably chaotic situations wouldn’t get dedicated toolkits – or would the)? There is certainly an opportunity to beef up all these existing and aspiring toolkits out there – some of which Nancy White started listing here.

And my final layer on this multi-idea multi-conversation multi-mulling process relates to the comfort of people with what is fix, fixed, static and aesthetic. The attraction of beautiful calm, still nature. I was recently talking to an acquaintance of mine who’s trying to help some organisation with knowledge management and that organisation seems to be focusing on having products (some would have the databases) like a knowledge management strategy, to feel secure on that front.

Where is the thread in all of this?

All these questions and reflections are quite interesting in themselves. But there is something more to them, that brings them together:

Experiential learning is a constantly challenging journey that brings us to meet people, co-create ideas, refine our frame of mind, our theories of change, our practices sometimes. And that experiential learning is faster, wider and/or deeper as more people join that journey (social learning), and as that journey is shaped by questions, not by answers.

The diverse perspectives and experiences between the people on that journey ineluctably lets questions arise, as bubbles of possible change that challenge the aesthetic fixed world we have created. The questions we engage in with others bring reflections of where our beautiful world is actually flawed and needs further work. Experiential learning is a journey of learning, of meeting, of change.

Learning is unrest. It requires people to let go of their security, to accept that their truth of yesterday may not be the one they wish to keep today. Some sort of transformation that is deeper in social learning (see this great framework for it below), which leads to the second relation… meeting.

Meeting people – not just superficially but really, deeply – puts you in a dynamic mode that helps you peel the layers of learning loops. Combined with learning it opens avenues for change.

Changing is agreeing – and showing – that you can actually rest with what previously caused your unrest. It is the journey to understanding that the beauty does not lie in a static picture, but in the beautiful choreography of change and transfiguration that people are going through. What is beautiful is their courage, and their resilience.

There is a point, however, in stopping from time to time that process of ‘learning and questioning in motion’ to look around. Contemplating the strong questions we have been pondering, taking our breath again before the next voyage of change is ignited. And sometimes these moments of respite are just another way to question things and trigger change but from another angle, as KMers navigating between fast flow and slow space. But the bottom line is: better be in motion, as it brings you in contact with others who help deepen or fasten your reflection of change. If you understand French you will appreciate the relation of all this with this quote…

Un intellectuel assis ira toujours moins loin qu’un con qui marche. (Michel Audiard)

And so there actually is a red thread in all of this: motion and contact, as the forces behind innovation. And the first step is to open your door, so people can see and meet you and open your mind, so other minds can see and meet you through it too.

Related blog posts:

A good idea for today and everyday: paraphrasing

Paraphrasing always had a negative connotation for my French ears. Like beating around the bush or repeating things without value.

I know a much better meaning now: it’s a cornerstone of listening and learning.

I’ve been in this wonderful course from Sam Kaner about facilitation and participatory decision making. Quality stuff! And one of the first skills we learnt was paraphrasing.

Paraphrase, mirror, mimic each other, create a connection and have fun! (Credits: Arnold Newman / Getty Images)

Paraphrase, mirror, mimic each other, create a connection and have fun! (Credits: Arnold Newman / Getty Images)

This technique is useful for events and any piece of work involving people conversing, in fact even for personal life.

Essentially it’s about interpreting what someone said to check we understood. Sometimes it’s just mirroring (repeating), sometimes drawing the person to say more, or even ask others t osay more about the same topic. Obvious you would think! All the more so as facilitators. Yes, I do it often,  but not systematically. And as Sam would say, you have to commit to it.

And yet how often have I really understood everyone’s point? How often have I taken things for granted? Time to change that and practice.

Paraphrasing is my new diet. And I’ve just learned again how humbling but refreshing learning is…

Feeling thankful…

PS. And with this post I’m ending the series of short daily posts. Not sure about the whole experiment…


From pervasive attention to purposeful intention (the rituals of learning)

The next learning step is everywhere. Curiosity and ritualised investigation accelerate these discoveries though (Credits: photonquantique / FlickR)

The next learning step is everywhere. Curiosity and ritualised investigation accelerate these discoveries though (Credits: photonquantique / FlickR)

This may be related to the anatomy of learning. I notice that we tend to learn in a pervasive way: as we go along we discover micro patterns. But we can, and should, put our attention to the next mile, the next thing we can improve. These micro patterns that come to our attention are an opportunity paving the way for new learning, as they reveal to us a new change that is possible.

Good minds put attention to small incremental changes. Great minds – with wisdom and humility – put moments or happenings into entire wider trajectories of change, based on a conscious, purposeful, intention.
Typically that’s also what great parents do with their children: they raise their attention to the intention behind an act, and explain the very reason why it’s good to celebrate a particular moment beyond just appreciating it. They ritualise that learning.

Raising our attention is hard enough; emphasising intentions of greater significance is even more subtle to get to. Yet it’s what makes learning more collective, more sticky – and what makes long lasting change more likely to happen.

Two examples of putting measures in place to mark the intention and ritualise learning:

  • Asking for each post you share: ‘why you should bother reading this’ – because (I) you’ve realised that otherwise the value may not be so clear to readers.
  • Stopping criticising only and rather wondering what we (I) can personally do to improve something we are criticising.

Easier said than done, but that’s why learning is the holy grail and why social (and triple loop) learning is so difficult.