Highest Knowledge Cafe ever?

London 2009 from BT TowerI was at the latest Gurteen Knowledge Cafe yesterday, this time sponsored by BT thanks to Sharon Darwent who hosted a very enjoyable Tuesday afternoon at the top of the amazing BT Tower. A buffet lunch during which to all our surprise the top of the tower did a full 360 rotation degree which was such an amzing view that we all just looked out in awe and tried to identify every building and feature on the landscape. Maewyn even saw her house.

Sharon and then Alex Wilson the BT HR Director set the scene for our topic with the question “How can we
best keep employees engaged in their work, in the current economic climate?” and Alex took us through his current understanding and approach for the future.

Dave SnowdenThen Dave Snowden took to the stage looking as relaxed and happy as I have ever seen him (no doubt the rugby results at the weekend played a part in this). Turning his current thinking around self signified narrative fragments and the whole complex system approach directly at Staff engagement he delivered by far the best telling of the children’s party story I have seen with spontaneous clapping breaking out first as weak signals then clustering into fully formed applause.

To infinity and beyond

To infinity and beyond

Finally David Gurteen then stepped up to introduce and explain the Knowledge Cafe format and was over self depreciating in my view. Yes it may be seen as ‘just normal conversation’ but the knowledge cafe has become a hub, a gathering, a ritual in which David can bring together a huge number of KM related individuals who will converse, politely and listen intently and are not scared to challenge existing thinking.

Kitten KongBack at the top of the tower we then had three rounds of conversations on the day’s topic and a final gathering to share final thoughts and ideas. A great social gathering, great conversations often challenging and discordant but making me at least feel much better for taking part. Not since the goodies has this tower given so much pleasure.

In effect I believe any organisation with a problem, that wants to avoid expensive consultancy rates should host a knowledge cafe, involve a number of their own staff and capture the thinking, the ideas and the potential for collaborative action that an event like this produces.

Of course all good Gurteen Knowledge cafes end up in the pub and we had a great early evening session putting the world to rights and building some very useful collaborative ideas that I hope will be very fruitful in the months to come.

NB. more pictures of the views and the event taken by David Gurteen himself can be found here .



  1. Pingback: Complexity and Engagement At The BT Tower « Steps & Leaps

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