An hour off from cleverness

Last week I went to a meeting organised by my friend Chris Macrae. Chris is an ubernetworker and has connected me to all sorts of fascinating people. He organised an evening meeting with George Por, author of the Blog of Collective Intelligence.

Chris had assembled a formidable group of people and, frankly, I had mixed feelings about attending. Because meetings of very bright people can go different ways. Sometimes they can be delightful, but at other times I get quite depressed, because conversation turns to “jousting”, where you get the feeling people are more interested in asserting and defending a position than in learning something new.

What a joy, then, when George kicks off by saying, what if we start by focussing not at all on what we know, but instead acknowledge what it’s like to be here together trying to explore what we don’t know. He encouraged us all to make personal statements about our own experience, rather than referencing our various bits of expertise and knowledge. I felt the stress fall from my shoulders and found myself engaged and (hopefully) engaging.

What followed was a rich, human conversation where experience was shared without a sense of competing to be clever. A blessed relief. And what always excites me about such meetings is they remind me that people have an innate ability to socialise and get along. This doesn’t actually need a huge amount of organising to happen, once we spare ourselves the strictures of maintaining a certain kind of appearance to the world.

This reminds me of my long held view that Knowledge Management is an unattractive term. What really engages me is how we manage our NOT knowing… if we can handle that lightly, then other things have a chance to drop into place.

(By the way, my friend David Wilcox also blogged this meeting).

7 thoughts on “An hour off from cleverness

  1. Tim

    I think Richard Farson has something to say about not knowing. It should be a liberating experience for every manager.

  2. Crossroads Dispatches

    Leave it to Fate or Ask Away

    Useful article “Requirements Gathering: Lose your Ego and Ask Away” at Intranet Journal on the art of asking questions to gather requirements for a project or product/service (don’t be put off by the I.T. focus – its generally applicable to

  3. Blog of Collective Intelligence

    Intersubjectivity in an organic pub

    Every event has at least as many different stories as participants. That’s because our narratives come through the unique mix of sensibilities, attitudes, interests, etc. that we bring to the event. If so, let collective intelligence benefit from that …

  4. chris macrae

    Always thought KM = practice of learning how to un-manage- certainly that is the origin the knowledge worker construct of Drucker intended to systemise so that self-organising and leadership made the best of each other not the human least

    Today’s Malaise: is there a profession without a core theory that is named the wrong way round? As I say with a field I have spent more time mapping, brand experts certainly have no clue how to communicate when listening isnt integrated into the budget or the process

  5. MEX Blog


    Es gibt sie immer noch, die Querdenker. Auch beim Thema Wissensmanagement: Was mich hingegen wirklich fasziniert, ist der Umgang mit Nicht-Wissen. Wenn wir das endlich vern

  6. Reflexivity

    The Collaboration Cafe

    I read two different accounts of “Intersubjectivity in an organic pub”, In Johnnie’s (the first one), there was a link to the second one, David’s, which led me to The Collaboratino Cafe….


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