A timely reminder for me that workshop sessions are not only about the task in hand, there can be other unexpected benefits. At the recent Cambridge Conservation Forum, I was invited to facilitate a 90 minute session to explore management planning on nature reserves, what state it was currently in and how might it be improved.
55 willing participants to spread across 5 syndicate rooms I simple suggested that they
avoid being with colleagues and try and include someone who knew the layout of the building”.
The professor on the front row jumped up and said
Sorry Ron but let me help, 1 2 3 4 5, 1 2 3 4 5…
as he went right round the room, now all the 1’s can go to room A etc
I then earned a gold star in keeping each room to task and to time while keeping well out of the content of the as it progressed from anecdotes through archetypal themes to river diagrams.
Amazingly, everyone finished on time and supping a most welcome cup of tea the professor sidled up to me.
“Take a look across the hall Ron” he said “This morning at tea all ten of my PHD students stood in a huddle chatting amongst and about themselves. Now look, they are distributed across the hall with all the highly respected (and, in my view, archetypal examples of knowledgeable experts) speakers and members making conversation, learning and most importantly building relationships for the future”
The power of conversation, the chance to meet and the opportunity to build relationships is undoubtedly complex but lies at the heart of all narrative and conversation based techniques of which David Gurteens Knowledge Cafe is a fine example. Ron Young at the recent KMUK said that he had found communication was invariably the weakest link and must be addressed first if you have any chance of achieving ‘extraordinary knowledge management’.
Our role as catalyst, facilitator or even midwife (a Dave Snowden favourite) might be vital in building vibrant knowledge sharing networks able to advise and make appropriate decisions in the face of future uncertainty, especially in this case, for the survival of local wildlife and habitat.
Focus on the pipes rather than the knowledge flowing in them – Dave Snowden at KMUK 2011