Friday, September 14, 2012

Conversations for business - David Gurteen Knowledge Café workshop

He is a Knowledge Management consultant, speaker and facilitator at Gurteen Knowledge. 

He is well-known for his Gurteen Knowledge Cafés which helps to facilitate conversation in business.

The Knowledge Café workshop brought up a few interesting points which regards conversation in business:

- People love to feel important. It is very valuable to remember in conversation in business.

- The circle as a mechanism in conversation. It helps to enable equal access to each other. 

- The conversation needs to be centred around a central point.

- Misconceptions are addressed through conversations, and it enhances better understanding in a business environment.

- There is power in presence. Direct conversation leads to a different conversation which is based in the direct connection with each other.

- Relationships are important in an organization. Conversation improves relationships.

- The most important resource in an organization is the individual. The focus should therefore be on the person/personnel.

- The following stands in the way of conversation in an organization: 

  •   Hierarchy; 
  •   Language of blame; 
  •   Company Talk; 
  •   Who is perceived to have the power; 
  •   Top-down-management conversation.

- The Knowledge Café addresses most of the imbalances and problems encountered in business conversations. 

The Knowledge Café brought up a few interesting applications in business:

-  Organize lunch dates with people in different departments (done through Human Resources).

- Breakfast dates: "What is spoken at breakfast remains at breakfast."

- Instead of meeting call it a forum with the theme of "Fearless conversation!"

- Communities of Practice can use it directly or virtually.

- Knowledge Cafés without furniture in the room. It gets business done!

- The use of conversation cards in a Knowledge Café, such as "Take the lead!" and "Be quiet!" and "listen more!" that are handed to participants.

- Use of Knowledge Cafés can be very valuable before decision-making happens.

- A picnic day with different struggle heroes. It can be applied to using leaders or specialists in the organization who are sitting at each picnic spot, and the participants rotate around them.

- To break protocols in certain communities. Everybody gets a chance to speak.

- Knowledge Cafés do not need many resources to make it happen. No flip charts and other paraphernalia are necessary. There is no need to record the outcomes. 
It mostly only requires a coffee to make it happen. 

The Knowledge Café made us aware of how many and varied its applications can be in business. It is only limited by our own imagination.
Each Knowledge Café will also bring up another set of applications.

Related reading:

- For more reading on the David Gurteen Knowledge Cafe:

- The SABC Media Libraries & SABC Training had a private Knowledge Café facilitated by David Gurteen: Report from a Knowledge Café with David Gurteen at SABC Media Libraries

Blog post by Karen du Toit, SABC Radio Archives

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