As Ron Donaldson of Natural England pointed out yesterday, I am opening for him this afternoon. Don’t laugh, I saw Coldplay open for U2 several years ago and now they’re the biggest band in Britain (actually, I don’t know this for a fact…). Not that I am implying I am dull, wet and boring you understand, though you are free to form your own opinion…
Day Two starts with a panel discussion on “efficient directories” which sounds technical, so I need little convincing to switch to Manzur Maula’s session on designing a communication strategy. Manzur and I spent much of the previous lunchtime trying to decide if we already knew each other and where from, but our working histories don’t seem to coincide which is curiously unsatisfying.
There are more people here for this session and like many communicators I’ve met, they’re quite vocal. After three attempts to add an item to the agenda – when we communicate, do we listen for the response? – I had to concede defeat. Luckily, Mazur had included this in the subjects he was covering, but it left me wondering that communications professionals are so focused on pushing messages. Will this ever change?
After coffee, a panel discussion on whether social software makes knowledge sharing easier was prefaced by chairperson Claire Andrews of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP admitting to being a social media skeptic, a point I made a particular note of for the afternoon!
After a quick lunch I nip outside for ten minutes to warm up my voice. I’ve the first line in both Oedipus Rex and The Winter’s Tale and the importance of being ready has been impressed on me numerous times. A walk around the block (what did we used to call a block when I was young and less exposed to US English?) also helps me to calm any nerves, rather than sitting inside waiting as tension builds. (Sadly, I can’t think of a suitable analogue for an environmental theatre group, so we’ll probably have to stick with the now-traditional trip to the nearest toilet).
Chair Claire says as she’s about to introduce me that she’s still a skeptic on social computing and I say I hope I can perhaps convince her otherwise. As she starts to explain how she’s against the focus on technology, I agree and point out the sentence “There is no technical solution to knowledge management” in my notes which seems to engage her.
The presentation went well with some good questions at the end. Unfortunately, despite the presence of micorphones, I can barely hear the questioner due to the absence of any foldback onstage. I suppose you have to keep things as simple as possible, but “no simpler”. Some of the questions afterward focus on the technology, which makes me wonder whether my message is getting across. Perhaps I should review my stories.
As I sit down to make way for Ron, Claire looks very illuminated and tells me it was really good, which restores my faith somewhat. I realised when I sat down how many details I’d left out… then I remembered the story from “Sources Of Power” about how outraged the presenters whose stories were collected into a book were when they found out all their five-point slides were left out and realised the details aren’t always important.
Ron’s presentation is great, opening with an introduction based around one of the best slides I’ve seen, drawing a parallel between English Iron Age communities and Natural England’s organisational design. He tells stories about using Cognitive Edge techniques like anecdote circles.
Again I have to leave early and miss a slot on knowledge capture methods, though I would’ve been more interested in the session with Denise O’Connor on managing user generated content. Maybe next time.