One of the most important aspects of Social Media is the way it is founded in the idea of conversation, dialogue and exchange. Whilst this may seem trivial it is in fact quite profound. The dynamic of the relationship between the participants in a conversation is quite different to that which has gone before between most organisations and their stakeholders and as such it presents an extraordinary opportunity for new ways of doing business, and new ways of generating insight and innovation.
Whilst the technologies and applications will change the mindset and attitude that are the underpinnings of Social Media will remain. So to engage properly we must be willing to understand conversation and dialogue a little better.
That may seem trite as we all think we know all about conversation but in truth the power of conversation is extraordinary and any one involved with knowledge management in any meaningful way will know that such an apparently simple idea and well trodden exercise in fact has layers of complexity that should be properly examined and unpacked if the real power of it is to be harnessed. And so it is with Social Media. Without an understanding of what conversation is, its dynamic, how to nurture and encourage it then you will struggle to generate real value from the use of Social Media.
A few days ago I attended a workshop in Edinburgh led by the man that invented and developed the idea of the Knowledge Café – David Gurteen of Gurteen Knowledge. Dave has spent a good deal of time developing this concept and has used it effectively in any number of scenarios around the world. He is full of exceptional thinking and ideas of how to make use of Knowledge Cafés and I for one can vouch for their effectiveness having used the Knowledge Café concept on many an occasion for real value generation. He has a wealth of anecdote to illustrate the potential of the Café and some of the challenges it presents.
At the heart of the Knowledge Café concept is the notion of encouraging conversation and Dave usually provides some interesting ideas about the dynamics and facets of conversation so as to make the application of a Knowledge Café workshop more effective.
It seems appropriate then to share some of the key quotes that Dave used as a way of making those seeking to use Social Media effectively more aware of the sophistication there is in the simple art of conversation and dialogue. These include endorsements for its power and approaches to encourage it. Consider these when you are considering the approach to using Social Media channels and how powerful that conversation can be.
“Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards”
“The kind of conversation I’m interested in is one in which you start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person.”
“Our most effective KM tool is conversation.”
“Conversation is the most powerful learning technology ever invented.”
Principles of Dialogue – /Based on the works of David Bohm
- Suspend assumptions, do not judge
- Observe and listen to one another
- Welcome differences and explore them
- Allow taboo subjects to be raised safely
- Listen to your inner voice
- Slow the discussion
- Search for the underlying meaning
You can find Dave’s full slidepack here