Getting under the COLLAR

COLLAR – is an idea right now that I want to turn into a real place – not simply a conceptual space or an online/virtual space, although it can’t escape being those too. But a real space that people can physically come together in to talk and learn and teach each other about the current state of organisational life and how best to survive it. It reflects my passionate belief that we need new institutions to help us survive and thrive in the knowledge economy.

COLLAR stands for the “Centre for Organisational Life, Learning and Associated Research” – the name was provided by MUSICA (Made-Up Silly Institute for Contrived Acronyms) whose previous work was the PICKLE (Public Inspection Centre for Knowledge Learning and Enlightenment). Mmmm….I do like that “Enlightenment” bit, so in homage to PICKLE an alternative name for COLLAR would be LICKLE – the London International Centre for Knowledge Learning and Enlightenment.

“Enough of the stupid name game – geddon with it – Ed”

What’s it for?
The Centre’s primary purpose is to provide a physical space for people to come together to discuss the nature of organisational life in the early 21st Century and to share their experience of ways of dealing with it and managing it. I think it’s important to have an urban location rather than a rural one to make it easy for people to drop in while they’re in town.

The kinds of products that could initially be available to people visiting the centre would be of two types:

Classes and Workshops in tools and techniques

  • Cultivating your creativity
  • Using creativity for better business
  • Developing your 60-second personal pitch
  • Making Personal Knowledge Management work for you

Interesting Conversations

  • Knowledge Cafes (any subject you want to introduce)
  • Talking Walks around interesting areas of London
  • The Talking Shop (ongoing conversations, primarily developing products and ideas)
  • Research Colloquia (gulp this is getting frighteningly academic, let’s stop now)

Haven’t we already got one of those?
If so, then great, point me there and I’ll go and sit on their doorstep until they find a use for me, but I’m not sure. What I have in mind is not as academic as the Business Schools or Management Training Centres. Nor is it as wildly, ecstatically cutting-edge as the Cynefin Centre. It’s the sort of place I’d love to hang out in and do the sort of stuff, for example that we did on BlogWalk IV recently.

Why not?
I can make up a hundred reasons why other people might think this is a bad idea, but I’d rather hear them from other people than to entertain them myself. I think it can work, it’s needed and I’m prepared to put time, effort and money into making it happen. The worst that I can hear is that someone’s already doing exactly this – and as I’ve said, that doesn’t bother me.

What’s needed next?

  • Money
  • Someone other than me to think about it
  • People with time etc. to start making it happen
  • Constructive ideas on making it happen
  • Premises
  • Suggestions of people who might be fired up by this idea (preferably ones who are already sympathetic, but also have some spare cash or cheap, but beautiful premises to offer and don’t want to have complete control over everything – shouldn’t be too hard to find ;-))

Comment here or e-mail me to lend a hand, keep the conversation going or point out any enormous blind spot that you think I have.

Young ‘uns

Euan is having a staggering time with his daughter the six-year-old mega-mixer. On a similar, but non-technical note, I just had the following exchange with my 13 year old son:

“Dad, what’s aspirin?”

“It’s a painkiller – for headaches and stuff”

“OK…is it strong?”

[suspicion rising] “Yes, sort of but it doesn’t work for some people and others are allergic to it. People also use paracetamol and ibuprofen”

“Uh-huh, so you can still get it”

[now worried, can see coke & aspirin experiments when friends come round later today] “Yes, you can get it over the counter from a chemist, why? Have you got a headache..?”

“No… it’s just there’s a drunk in my book”

“What your Stephen King book?” [anger towards Surrey Libraries and their liberal attitudes to lending to minors – guilt for my own liberal attitudes, I said it was OK and now my son’s experimenting with drugs at 13 – where will it all end?]

“No Dad, my book – you know…. and there’s a drunk and he’s got a hangover and I want to know what he’d take for it”

[Wild relief combined with heart-piercing guilt that I’ve forgotten that he’s writing a book. Well not forgotten so much as put it out of mind, assuming that as I hadn’t heard about it in six months it had gone the same way as many of my books/blogs/sparkling careers, started with enthusiasm and ditched when the going got tough or some new sparkly thing came my way.]

Dad leaves for work, heart now bursting with pride in his son, the 13 year-old sure-to-be-Booker-prize-winning-novelist.

Communications Competences (shudder)

The Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government has produced some research on it’s I&DeA knowledge site (Grrrr…annoying need to register to get at the goodies) about Communications functions in local councils.

I skimmed one on core competencies and one on who should run the website before getting a bit antsy – neither of them even mention blogs (not even “there are some dangerous individuals out there who suggest that we should all be talking to the public more often and they’ve got this tool of the devil called a blog. If someone tries to sell you one, call 999 and walk away from them, backwards while maintaining eye-contact”) and the one on the place of the website only really gets as far as saying, it’s not a technical task, it’s a business one….so give it to communications.

However in a great bit of joined up-ness, elsewhere on Knowledge there are some suggestions that blogging might be good for councillors at least.

I take this as a reminder that I’m storming up the hill and not looking back often enough to realise that everyone else is still having fun just struggling to get their shoes on.

Cities, trees, webs, whatever

In the first issue of Global Knowledge Review, the ultra-cool Lilia Efimova (Mathemagenic) writes about her irritation with the dominance of tree models in knowledge and information management and provides a great reference to Christopher Alexander on organic city design.

This is the corollory (sp? – other side anyway) of the challenge we faced at the Commission for Patient & Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) earlier this year of building a knowledge management system that was more like a city than a tree – we came up against enormous resistance and unwillingness to try this model out to see whether it worked.

My perception of what people said was “We know what an information system looks like and it looks like a tree. This does not look like a tree and therefore, it cannot be a good information system.” At the same time we also had people saying “I don’t know where to put stuff”, to which the answer was a very empowering, “You should put it where you would expect to find it again, but it’s really up to you, there is no single right place to put it” which many people chose to interpret as “We’ve designed this badly, we’re a bit incompetent and don’t know where you should put it”.

I sincerely hope that the CPPIH KMS survives the governmental jiggery-pokery after the NHS arms-length bodies review – it’s still one of the strongest ideas in the whole patient involvement movement.

New Publication – Global Knowledge Review

David Gurteen is launching a new publication:

“For some time I have felt the need for a publication that focused on
thought leadership in the fields of learning, creativity, innovation,
KM and personal development. My colleagues Clive Snell and Peter
Williams of Bizmedia with whom I run the Gurteen Knowledge Conferences
and Learning Events have also felt this need. So we are jointly
launching a new monthly journal “The Global Knowledge Review” (GKR).

Each month original thinkers from around the globe will give their
personal thoughts and reflections on knowledge and learning related
issues from the perspective of their geographical and cultural
backgrounds. The publication will be available on subscription and
distributed electronically. For more information and a free copy of the
first issue see:

If you subscribe before the end of September 2004, you will receive a
special introductory discount – 30% off the normal price.”

David’s conferences and knowledge cafes are always excellent and I expect no less from this venture – Go read.

TOC for Sample first issue available free at GKR

  • Welcome to the first issue
  • Everyday miracles – learning and the human condition
  • The future of KM – driving strategic renewal of organizations
  • What do knowledge workers want?
  • Trees versus webs
  • A wake up call for HR
  • Can we make the flow go?
  • Discovering the importance of leadership and coaching
  • How ready is your organisation for KM?
  • Personally speaking
  • Briefing
  • Getting to know you ice-breakers
  • TFPL page
  • End piece