My Favourite Knowledge Cafés

Published by Richard Hare on

I’m looking forward to this year’s Gurteen Knowledge Barbeque in July. I’ve been going to David’s London Knowledge Cafés for over three years now (although strangely it seems longer) and although
my first wasn’t the most inspiring, the subjects were enough to keep me going back.

My participation has been limited since the in situ: experimental theatre group I belong to switched their activities to Tuesdays, so I haven’t along been since Dave Pollard’s appearance in November.

Meeting people who work in the same area is very encouraging – especially when you find many of them are struggling with similar problems. Half the people at each event are usually first-timers, which means it’s always interesting. Add the exposure to new ideas and the Knowledge Café has been a very useful source.

My three favourites have been:

1. “Innovation Cafes: Where Practitioners make their own rules” – March 2005

Victor Newman’s session was so good we reused his “fast reversal thinking” process for an Ark Group intranet workshop we facilitated in December 2006 with great success.

Victor writes about the technique in the latest KM Review and there is more in his always-useful Knowledge Activist’s Handbook.

2. “Will accountants have any role in accounting information in the future?” – March 2006

The title of this event might have put off some. I was unsure and attended out of curiosity, only to be surprised by Prof. Clive Holtham’s facilitated discussion using dialogue sheets to guide the conversations.

Another technique so good, we’ve appropriated it for our Knowledge Management workshops.

3. “Intuition Management”
Dr. Mike Baxter got everyone thinking by recounting his experiences designing more conversational websites using principles outlined in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and “The Tipping Point”.

Other memorable events have included Ray Shaw on Double-Loop Learning, Alison Leahy on the eternal question “Why should employees share their knowledge?” and David’s “Are you a techno-fetishist or a fluffy-bunny?” in which I realised I was leaving behind my technology roots.

Tips for attendees:
1. Make notes on your table’s conversation as if you’re going to present back to the group. If you end up getting volunteered, you won’t have to scrabble around in an effort to summarise the conversation.
2. Don’t drink too much complimentary wine on arrival – the second glass makes it slightly harder to follow the conversation and the group usually retires to a local pub after.

Hopefully I’ll see you in Greenwich next month.

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