Blog for March 2021 Seminar: Working during the Covid pandemic

The theme for this seminar was Working during the COVID-19 Pandemic: sharing insights and experiences and was a break from our normal seminar format. We had eight speakers, and each spoke for ten minutes or less.

Paul Corney

Paul’s personal reflection was not necessarily about the pandemic – rather, on the last 20+ years. (He’s worked from home as a base since 1998.) He presented five slides.

There’s something Paul does that he calls ‘a walk to work’. He thinks having a routine is really important. From discussions with people in the last year, he’s observed that those people who have difficulties around social interaction have had the biggest problems. Having a routine gives your day more structure. Secondly, you should go straight for the big tasks – it’s all too easy to do the most banal things to put off dealing with the difficult stuff. That’s always been true, but has been amplified by remote working.

Paul has a concept he calls ‘peripheral virtual vision’. When people gather in the same space, you get a sense quite easily of what is going on in the room, but it’s challenging to do that in a virtual environment. So, we shouldn’t let people wander off camera, because if we see each other, you can pick things up from faces and body language. Having two people running the meeting works better, as he and Chris Collinson experienced during the year.

One ‘trick’ he uses in virtual meetings is to get people to talk about their proudest moments. At the start of any interaction, people are naturally nervous, especially if they don’t know each other. So one practice he’s transferred from the physical to the virtual environment is to get each person to describe something they’re proud of to one other person – and the second person then tells the whole group. Firstly, this makes it easier for the first person to open up; and the second person really has to listen well. Paul finds that listening in a virtual environment is pretty challenging.

Another technique is to get people to talk about objects. When he was doing work at the Asian Development Bank, he asked the chief executive to bring an object to the meeting, and he brought a pebble. Paul asked him to tell everyone about the pebble, and the CEO described in great detail one of the ADB’s dam construction projects.

In the course of the last year, we ‘lost the water cooler’. In assignments in the past Paul actually used to stand by the water cooler and it was a good way of observing how conversations flowed in an organisation. In some work with AstraZeneca, a colleague used this idea of a virtual water cooler for get-togethers around learning. Each week there would be a set time, and somebody would be persuaded to talk about something they had been doing in the field of learning. This got conversations going and revealed deep insights.

He ended by referring to a presentation GitLab made at a CILIP conference on virtual working. They run ‘virtual coffee chats’, which Paul has done as well. You select half a dozen people from around the organisation, who then have ‘virtual coffee’ with a senior member of the organisation. By rotating membership of these groups you develop a cadre of people who can all ask questions of each other.

Finally, Paul said that running virtual meetings means working harder; and you shouldn’t assume that the person who was good at running physical meetings will always be the best to run virtual ones. If you are in a knowledge or information management role, now is the time to brush up on your facilitation skills.

 

Dion Lindsay

Dion’s theme was Recruitment. But first he remarked that this pandemic has been helping him to react purposefully to changes that he hadn’t seen coming – and how to enjoy the ride!

In January 2020 Dion was on the planning committee for the UKeIG’s annual study day. Because of lockdown, they had to change this rapidly into Zoom webinars. He was so ‘paranoid’ about getting the presentation right in Zoom that he overdid the preparation, invested in bits of technology that he’s probably never going to use, and became a bit of a ‘know-all’. He started to develop a reputation as the person to go to for making a success of Zoom meetings.

He also found himself working in a pool of trained assessors for police recruitment. That was a bit of a surprise, and he finds he is enjoying it immensely. It’s a good example of how in response to COVID the careers that we pursue can become more ‘portfolio’ in nature. Two years ago he underwent a week’s arduous training, and passed; but nothing happened for a long time thereafter. He got security-vetted, then just as he was about to do some assessing in real earnest, he was completely retrained to deliver it online.

The start of the pandemic accelerated the change to online, but that change was going to happen anyway, he thinks, because of the new target to recruit 20,000 new police officers. Dion can’t see how those targets could have been met if the assessors (and those being assessed) had to turn up to physical recruitment centres. He hopes there will be some study of how COVID changed working practices, including in the fields of knowledge and information management.

Dion likes doing this recruitment work in part because he finds the candidates fascinating, in how they work things out, how they present themselves, how they se the world, and what they tell Dion about the parts of the world he doesn’t get to see.

Towards the end of summer 2020 as we slid again towards lockdown, Dion interested himself in digital products for knowledge management. He started with an assumption that the vendors of such digital systems might be misrepresenting knowledge management to sell their products, but he’s more of a fan now, and the two questions seem to be (a) do knowledge managers recognise what we are trying to do in what the suppliers are talking about? And (b) how much can we learn from the start-up and beta versions about what we might want knowledge management to look like in ten to thirty years?

He’s also involved as a ‘critical friend’ for Knowledgeplace which is a meeting place, marketplace and a mini-Wiki for knowledge management designed by Lukasz Rozinski. He’s involved in a lot of the beta-testing and trying to explain concepts. He’s also enjoying designing workshops with David Byrne to help teams discover what non-workplace skills and aptitudes team members have that the workplace will need in the next few years.

All told, said Dion, his experience of the pandemic has been really interesting and sometimes exciting.

 

Perrine Guy-Duche

Perrine told us how her company changed their entire Intranet during lockdown. She’s been working for two years at CRU, which specialises in market analysis and price assessments within the global metals, mining and fertilisers industries. They have about 300 employees spread around the world, with the HQ in London and offices in seven countries, and major time zone differences.

The intranet platform is the only place where all employees can share knowledge and collaborate wherever they are in the world. The decision to replace the platform was taken for efficiency and cost reasons. They had nine months to complete the project before the contract with the previous intranet supplier ended.

As in any project, it’s important to establish a strict and realistic timeline. At the beginning of 2020 they managed at least to select the new provider, but then came lockdown, and everything since has had to be done remotely, from the signature of the deal in April to the migration in August and September.

Communication was key in keeping everybody informed and involved. About ten workshops were held remotely, and a community of ‘champions’ was engaged early.

On the positive side, it was a great equaliser to have everybody working remotely – easier than having some people in a room and others connecting remotely. The situation also forced people to be really organised, important given the tight timeline. Perrine offered some tips – an online meeting needs an agenda, communicated in advance; teams need to have regular meetings even if just a catch-up for a few minutes. For example during the migration Perrine and two colleagues met briefly each day to see if things were OK, or were there questions or problems.

Being online means that you can record all your meetings, and write up meeting minutes after; not having to take notes during the meeting removes a distraction. Perrine also think it gives you a break to think and focus on your project, by digitally ignoring people! On the other hand, if you can ignore them, they can ignore you.

The technology allows us to act almost as if we were in the same room. A challenge is that people believe they can multi-task, but they can’t, and if people allow themselves to be distracted, you message will be lost in the process.

A final challenge is that one loses in part the human dimension, which may impact your choice of a business partner.

However, the project has gone well, and the solution was delivered six weeks ahead of schedule. By January, three months after launch, 100% of employees were engaged with the new platform. The feedback has been very encouraging and people are saying the new platform has enhanced collaboration in their teams and across the business. Obviously the overseas colleagues are delighted to be able to collaborate regardless of where they sit.

Some takeaways, which should be relevant whether you are in lockdown or not — Keep it simple, the simpler the better; go out and ask the business what they need; and most importantly, be prepared, for it will make everything easier later. This kind of project must be driven by the business and not by IT, because it is not for office automation but for knowledge management. Make use of your team of champions; and communicate – the more the better! (If you feel you are communicating too much, you’ve probably got it just right.)

 

Yasmin Dubash

Yasmin who is now the knowledge manager at CBRE spoke about starting this job at the beginning of the COVID crisis. She started looking for a new job in October 2019 and was grateful to be offered the CBRE role in November. She was on a three months notice period, so didn’t actually start the new job until 2 March 2020.

The first couple of weeks of the new job were very busy and she was fortunate to meet a lot of people around the business. Her manager was really supportive in introducing her to people, and getting meetings set up.

On Friday 13 March, Yasmin and a colleague started reading and hearing of the developments with COVID, and the possible impending need to work from home, and decided to take their laptops home that day. That weekend, an email came through from CBRE saying that they were advising employees to work from home if possible – that was a week before the Government ‘stay at home’ announcement.

Yasmin has worked from home in previous jobs, but for a few days here and there, normally when she’s had a big project on or needed to do a lot of reading. So working from home was not unfamiliar, but on the other hand, not something she’d done regularly, and especially not when starting a new job.

With a new job you expect an induction process, socialising and getting to know people face to face. Most of the relationships Yasmin built were done over Zoom. Initially Yasmin was apprehensive that she’d not be able to build up rapport with people to get her work done. But everyone was in a similar position, which helped. Everyone has understood that it is still important to cultivate those relationships.

Yasmin feels that when meeting online, it is important not just to get stuck into the work, but getting to know people too, how they’ve been feeling, what they’ve been doing. She’s fortunate that her manager in giving her time with people. She’s now on the Junior Board, which has again given opportunities to meet more people around the business.

The offices re-opened temporarily during summer 2020, and Yasmin jumped at the chance to go in for a couple of days a week. Though that doesn’t sound like a lot, it still gave her the opportunity to see people face to face. As Yasmin lives alone, she especially welcomed the social interaction, and the ability to have those small and casual conversations that you wouldn’t likely do over Zoom, which is geared around half-hour pre-booked meetings.

To start a new job under these circumstances is daunting, but you have to be tenacious, use your initiative, put yourself out there and talk to people. It helps to be self-motivated, but Yasmin confesses she has struggled with that, and she thinks many other people have too. The monotony does sap the motivation, but colleagues can do what they can to motivate each other.

 

Sophie Sheinwald

Sophie is a photographer. Before COVID came along she worked at personal brand and event photography. She also had a book published, Generation Share, about inspiring change-makers. Last year when lockdown was impending, she went upstairs to sort things out. As she looked through old photos, she discovered documentation of work she’d done 20 years before as a freelance artist in healthcare environments. She also found portraits she had taken of NHS staff.

As the NHS applause events started, this sparked in Sophie an idea which grew into a nationwide photographic tribute to healthcare workers. She wondered, what if she again photographed portraits of NHS staff, and what if it could go nationwide through the participation of other photographers?

On 22 March 2020 she put up a Facebook Live post, and it went viral. The project is called ‘2020 Vision Project’. Photographers joined up – as far north as Aberdeen, also in Northern Ireland, in Wales, all over the North; 100 photographers in all.

The photographers were briefed to book sessions with healthcare workers. Initially she hoped the NHS would make the nominations, but of course they were incredibly busy. However, portrait photographers are used to communicating, and those who had joined the project were happy to contact health workers in their local area. Each healthcare worker was photographed either in a studio or outdoor spaces, and all with social distancing.

This project was created on the go and it took a lot of detailed organising with spreadsheets etc. ‘We have a collection of healthcare workers photographed behind the mask and quite deliberately not in their uniforms.’

Sophie then showed her screen with the online gallery, showing a selection of the portraits. Alongside each is some text in which they tell stories of what has challenged, what has inspired them.

As an example she showed a portrait of a Marie Curie hospice social worker. He had so many difficult conversations who obviously wanted to visit their loved ones, but couldn’t due to COVID restrictions. ‘Telling people that they couldn’t come and visit was really hard,’ he said. ‘I used virtual visiting to help families stay connected. It was a privilege to support the process and to be there to facilitate this.’

Another, from Birmingham, wrote: ‘I’m privileged to work in one of the most super-diverse cities in the country. I have worked with some of the most vulnerable people in the city, but yet they demonstrate heart and resilience. The so-called global pandemic has put the microscope on the historic health inequalities and has put the magnifying glass on some of the systemic challenges that have troubled citizens for decades. The fear, panic, isolation, death, loss, confusion, bereavement, were the biggest challenges we had to face. The invisible virus did not discriminate.’

There was an exhibition is September, in Bishopsgate in London, and to see all those photos and all those stories made them realise that these are worth archiving.

 

Conrad Taylor

Conrad read from a prepared text and started by saying, oddly, that for him it had been a good year for lockdown and remote working – because computing and communications technologies have evolved to the point where they’ve helped him to get by. Because his work for 45 years has been in graphic design and writing and media, and freelance for most of that, he’s long been used to working alone. And he’s lived on his own for 30 years as well.

Home for Conrad at the moment is a single room in a hostel for homeless people, which accommodates about 80 households. It’s a busy place and keeping a two metre distance isn’t possible in the corridors – plus many people have come to his door asking for help. COVID has let the residents off lightly; people have on the whole been sensible.

Conrad next talked about 35+ years of personal experience with the developing capability of computers and of ‘telematics’, the old name for electronic remote working. But first he cited the philosopher Hegel who in Science of Logic (1812) remarked that a gradual but steady change of the quantitative aspects of a thing can flip over into complete qualitative change.

For about 12 years Conrad worked as a graphic designer and a preparer of publication artwork using such tools as scalpels, rubber cement, technical pens, rub-down Letraset lettering, and galleys of type that had been sent out to a phototypesetting agency. He could not see that computers would be of any use to him. But then in 1986 he and his wife bought the combined toolkit of the Apple Macintosh and Aldus PageMaker ‘desktop publishing’ software.

A few years later he bought a 2400-baud model and started to experience telematic communications, first though GeoNet and then through a university backdoor to the Internet (at the time, the Internet in the UK was open only to academia). ‘I joined a couple of ongoing international online conferences,’ he said – nothing like Zoom, of course, but in the form of email discussion lists with thousands of members. ‘Back then we were acutely aware of limited bandwidth and we behaved ourselves accordingly.’

In the early 1990s, the Internet became something that anyone could join – in Conrad’s case, though a subscription to an ISP, Demon Internet. And things got technically very exciting.

Really, the early 1990s were exciting years in which to have a ringside seat. Senator Al Gore wrote prophetically about an ‘Information Superhighway’. Tim Berners-Lee had just invented the World Wide Web. Adobe launched Acrobat, a way to move accurate images of documents across the Internet. Conrad began to learn and experiment with these technologies.

But fast-forwarding to the present day, Conrad compared then and now. His 5G cellular hub gives him download speeds of over a hundred Mbps – over 40,000 times faster than that old dial-up modem. The Internet protocols (TCP/IP) are the same now as they were back then, but the quantitative change have made qualitatively different things now possible.

‘So I can listen to Corelli concertos, write collaboratively on Google Docs, share large files, update my Web site, check the news and weather, shop online, swap regular emails with Mum,
see loads of pictures of cats [on Facebook], and join this meeting…’

How has this technology change affected how Conrad has worked during lockdown? He gave a number of examples. Conrad offers the service of recording conferences and meetings, and either editing the audio to podcast form, or making a transcript. This year he has not been able to attend events in person with his recording gear. However, he’s received audio files from an engineering company for transcript, and made a transcript of the audio of a couple of Zoom meetings.

For some years Conrad has collaborated with Bob Bater on a number of projects, one involving compiling information about future energy alternatives. Internet-enabled desk research has helped him to study e.g. wind turbine and petrochemical and nuclear technologies, often starting off with Wikipedia and then plunging into the scientific and organisational research literature. Working in a text editor, he’s made Web-page prototypes and used an ftp utility to load them to his Web site for Bob to take a look at.

He’s also done some video editing for a friend’s Indian classical dance portfolio. Riaz sent him the uncut source video via Dropbox, and given that hundreds of megabytes of video data were involved, the 5G download speeds came in handy! Rather than Zoom, for personal use Conrad has a Whereby.com video link account, and Riaz and Conrad had several editorial conferences over that. Conrad posted the finished video cuts to Google Drive for Riaz to retrieve.

The Fairholme House Garden Project is an initiative to build a community food-growing garden space at the hostel where he lives. It has pulled in support from the Lambeth GP Food Coop and from Lambeth Council and construction will start in late April 2021. Conrad hosts a resource page with publications compiled as a rolling log of developments and a knowledge repository: made with Affinity Publisher software, saved as PDF. See http://www.conradiator.com/fairholmegarden

‘Let’s turn to team collaboration in this project,’ he said. ‘Not easy because this thing has gathered more stakeholders than a vampire-hunting party.’ Email and telephone conversations and socially distanced meetings in the hostel grounds weren’t getting everyone together.

Lambeth Council IT is enslaved to all things Microsoft, so the virtual committee aimed to use Skype for Business Meetings on 4 March. ‘It didn’t work – so we flipped to my Whereby.com account. He recorded the meeting with QuickTime, prepared minutes, and emailed them to the others the next day.’

Conrad has also joined a Facebook group for home gardeners and small farmers in Ghana (45,000 members). This brings up some knowledge management issues, as people ask the same questions again and again. He used Google Docs to draft some materials for them about tropical soil improvement strategies, which involved downloading about half a gigabyte of electronic documents for study.

Thirty years ago, very little of this online research and media production and large file transfer would have been possible. Which is why, said Conrad, it’s been a good year for a lockdown. For him personally, anyway, because of how ‘the job’ has gone digital.

 

Melanie Harris

Melanie, who works for DWP, started by remarking that everybody’s experience of lockdown has been different. She has experienced a lot of changes. For her, the beginning of lockdown was difficult – her late partner Tony died on 9 June, of lung cancer, and in the run up to lockdown there were hospital appointments to cope with. Then in the Autumn, she had a totally unexpected whirlwind romance and now has a new boyfriend and is happier than she has been for ages. They live in separate homes, and meet up at weekends.

In the gap between Tony’s death and the funeral, Melanie learned that she and three colleagues were being redeployed to the gov.uk team, because the DWP library was offering only a limited library service, which had to be COVID-related. She started her gov.uk training, which was quite frustration – but she passed it. Through the training, she learned about HTML: the team’s job was to convert PDF documents into HTML.

The team was fantastic to work with; they were so friendly, and it helped her recovery from bereavement. Now they are back in the library, and this is mainly what she wanted to talk about. They were head-hunted by another part of the Department. This started with an IFLA conference (International Federation of Library Association and Institutions) which was held at Caxton House where she works. Trevor Huddlestone, now her boss, was so impressed with it that he was anxious to get the library on board with him. The team used to be in Digital – very nice people, but they never ‘got’ what library and information services were about. But now they are working in the Central Analysis and Science Directorate, working jointly with social researchers. It is such a different atmosphere!

One of the bizarre things is that in this time of COVID they can’t make investment in the library, so they are able to spend more time working on content. They are currently in the stage of working out what everyone’s job will be. So, her experience of lockdown has been interesting for all sorts of reasons.

 

Edward Jewell

Ed is in public library service in Jersey. Jersey is in a lucky space right now – there are only five active COVID cases, and from 3 February they have been able to open their central and community libraries, and the mobile libraries are also circulating. The offer is currently still fairly limited. People can browse in the library, study there, use the computers, and storytime sessions for children have resumed. They have also started hosting small third-party meetings.

Everything is still carefully managed. There is no casual soft seating; the first floor is ‘controlled space’ so they take contact-tracing details for anyone who comes to use a computer or study. They still have two-metre distancing, and mandatory wearing of face-masks will be in place until at least May.

There were some grim moments during the year. Just before Christmas, they had a thousand cases in a population of 110,000; Ed himself went down with COVID at that time.

He can still remember the first corporate SMT business continuity meeting on 11 March 2020, when their director-general told them everything would be minuted for future judicial enquiry. The expectation was that 50% of the workforce might be ill at any one time.

Twice in 2020 the central library nearly got taken over for other functions; once they almost lost it to Gold Command, and the other time it almost became a temporary morgue.

The first priority through all of this has been keeping staff safe and supported. It’s been interesting hearing people’s experiences of working from home. What Ed and colleagues have experienced has been an all-encompassing and rolling change management process. Comfort zones have been completely swept away. Most of the staff have been working from home for extended periods, and operating rules have been changing day by day.

They have tried to be as clear and as consistent as possible in the communication going out; and although it’s been time consuming, from day one they had daily whole-team meetings and senior team meetings (using Microsoft Teams). Just getting the IT in place was a nightmare, with laptops being carried around the island. Regardless of what was actually on the agenda of those meetings, they were important in breaking down the isolation of people working from home.

They have had to adjust the building plans around scenarios rather than certainties. Moving out of lockdown has been proving just as complicated as moving into it. It’s a challenge for the leadership team because people want some certainty and a solid base to work from, but things are still necessarily quite fluid. It’s quite tiring for those who don’t have much of a say in what’s going on around them.

What they found really useful was getting feedback all the time – talking to the Health and Safety people, talking to staff and customers. Just before they reopened for a while in June 2020, they did a ‘dry run-through’ with volunteers in the library, to see how it worked. They reset that and ran it again and again, so people could practice interacting with the public again, as it had been months since they’d done that.

They got cracking straight away on home deliveries, getting thousands of books out to people during the first lock-down. All the storytime sessions were moved on-line, and they’ve also seen a massive growth in use of other online resources. Lots of Library staff started to support the local government ‘Connect Me’ helpline, which was signposting islanders to practical local help, whether about finances, education, health, all those practical things.

It was the personal stories that had most impact on Ed. The support of library staff was really appreciated by those to whom books were being delivered at home, also parents with small children appreciated the online storytelling as a sort of anchor for their children, a recognisable face.

In the first opening back in June, the library operated what could be called a ‘takeaway’ service – in and out in five minutes to collect a book. It became apparent that people were desperate for computer access. In some cases, people didn’t have the hardware at home; or, they could not afford the data – either way, it turned out that a lot of people hadn’t had Internet access for three months. They’d been out of touch with their families, were unable to search for jobs. So when the second lockdown came around early in December, they ensured that that regulation was changed so that side of the library service could stay open.

The experience made it painfully clear how many of the inhabitants of Jersey live on or below the poverty line. Many callers to the ‘Connect Me’ helpline were having to make decisions between heating, or feeding themselves or their pets. So now, they are thinking of rolling out that telephone service in more of an enquiry-based way while moving out of lockdown, and have been undergoing training for that.

They find themselves having to manage customer expectations. Just the previous week they had been having a discussion about reinstating seating in the library, and expectations from the public are high. It is wearing for the staff – but chocolate helps!

There’s a new book out by Scott Galloway called Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, based on the proposition that the pandemic has accelerated social and business trends by about ten years. The newly invented services such as online storytelling and the ‘Click, Call and Collect’ service have proved popular and work well, but need integrating into a more day to day framework. Finance is also a challenge, with a 50% loss of room hire charges. Priorities going forward will be around supporting education, mitigating social isolation, extending digital inclusion, and supporting the island’s economic recovery.

Breakout sessions

There had been breakout sessions halfway through the afternoon (and the first five speakers), and in the half hour remaining, David Penfold who was running the session called on people from the groups to comment. Here we note some of the points made, without attribution.

  • It seems clear that things can get done better through remote working; when lockdown ends, will these amended work practices persist?
  • Mental health issues resulting from isolation may be a problem.
  • If there is a shift to remote working, the need for large office space in city centres will decline, which is bound to have macroeconomic effects in the years to come.
  • Paul’s recommendation that in video meetings everyone should be on camera does not consider people’s different situations e.g. those with poor bandwidth or a poor mobile data contract.
  • Will we understand now that broadband Internet is infrastructure as important as, say, roads?
  • Perhaps the pandemic has raised the profile of knowledge management, because you can’t work remotely without efficient access to up-to-date information.
  • How can we learn from these experiences, perhaps by archiving them?

 

 

May 2020 Seminar: How do we thrive in a hyper-connected, complex world?

Summary

This meeting was a regular Knowledge Café that David Gurteen held especially for NetIKX members.  We heard David set out the reasons he felt the world had changed beyond all recognition since the second world war.  He listed the familiar story of the internet, transport advances, global finances and social media but also more unexpected aspects that give our world a new complexity. Then he invited us into break-out groups to share our own ideas on this fascinating topic.  After a break, David focused our attention on his favoured area of expertise; the need for new leadership styles and the power of conversation. He was very clear that people did not need a title of leader to develop the power of leadership. We joined second break-outs to take our networking further.  Then we shared ideas in a stimulating plenary. The meeting showed the value of the Knowledge Café approach, but also was a masterclass in using Zoom as the communication media.  NetIKX will take the ideas and the methods forward for the future.

Speakers

David Gurteen is a writer, speaker, and conversational facilitator. The focus of his work is Conversational Leadership – a style of working where we appreciate the power of conversation and take a conversational approach to the way that we connect, relate, learn and work with each other. He is the creator of the Knowledge Café – a conversational process to bring a group of people together to learn from each other, build relationships and make a better sense of a rapidly changing, complex, less predictable world. He has facilitated hundreds of Knowledge Cafés and workshops in over 30 countries around the world over the past 20 years. He is also the founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community – a global network of over 20,000 people in 160 countries. Currently, he is writing an online book on Conversational Leadership. You can join a Knowledge Café if you consult his website.

Time and Venue

2pm on 20th May 2020, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

The seminar was announced via the NetIKX website and explained that the seminar would be presented using the Zoom platform.

Slides

Not available.

Tweets

There were no Tweets from this meeting as we got used to our new ‘Zoom’ format.

Blog

See our blog report: Gurteen knowledge cafe

Study Suggestions

Visit David’s website: Gurteen Knowledge at www.gurteen.com

This site includes KM book reviews, news and useful quotations.

You can sign up for David’s regular newsletter from this site.

January 2020 Seminar: Virtual working and learning: is it working for you?

Summary

NetIKX had a dazzling meeting with Paul Corney, President-elect of CILIP, showing his wealth of knowledge about meetings of all kinds, and specifically virtual meetings.  The presentation ranged from detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of technology packages – where he pulled out some surprising issues to watch out for – to the preparation and etiquette that makes humans effective when working together at a distance.  That was to be expected from someone who had once been managed by a boss located on the far side of the globe!  The meeting culminated in a vote among those present to find our most useful takeaways.   To learn what we decided, please look at our blog! All in all, the seminar featured lots of fun and instructive anecdotes, takeaways for the workplace, and finally networking with refreshments – it turned out to be a perfect NetIKX event.

Speakers

Paul Corney is Managing Director of Knowledge et al. A long-time business consultant with broad global experience, he spent 25 years in London as Senior Manager at Saudi International Bank and as Vice President at Zurich Reinsurance before becoming the Strategy & Business Advisor to the CEO of a dotcom software organization (Sopheon PLC) and Information & Knowledge Advisor to the CEO of a leading reinsurance broker (BMS Group). As such, he was one of the first ‘knowledge managers’ in London. Outside of work, Corney is a founding trustee of PlanZheores, a London-based charitable organization whose aim is to make good use of surplus food. He regularly speaks and holds Master Classes at international events on information and knowledge management and is a member of the British Standards Institute KM Standards Committee (KMS/1).

Time and Venue

Wednesday 29th January 2020. 2pm The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

Following Paul’s presentation, we will have a group exercise where we will sketch a typology of virtual meeting scenarios, technologies that may underpin them, and what they make either easy or difficult. We’ll also share our own experiences of virtual meeting spaces and try to find rules of thumb whereby we can make such gatherings work better. There will then be an opportunity to network over drinks and nibbles.  Do come along and join us, as we haven’t yet found a technology for pouring a complimentary glass of wine for remote participants!

Slides

Not available.

Keeping the show on the road in a virtual world

Tweets

#netikx101

Blog

See our blog report: Keeping the show on the road in a virtual world

 

Study Suggestions

Paul Corney’s website ‘knowledge et al‘ provides information about the books he has written including the jointly authored The KM Cookbook.  You can read ‘why & how we wrote it’.

You may wish to look at Erin Meyer’s website.  Her work, as mentioned in Paul’s speech, focuses on how the world’s most successful leaders navigate the complexities of cultural differences in a multicultural environment.

May 2019 Seminar: Information Literacy: Current Ideas and Developments plus NetIKX AGM

Summary

This session provided an opportunity to discuss current ideas and developments relating to information literacy (IL). Last year, CILIP completely overhauled its definition of IL. Unlike the previous version, which was heavily focused on academic skills, the 2018 definition places IL firmly in a broad societal context that no longer resides just within higher education. It states that ‘IL is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgments about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society’.

In the first part of the session, Stéphane Goldstein – who, along with the other presenter, Geoff Walton, contributed to the drafting of the definition – explained why it is so important for IL to be situated in different life-course contexts; how the definition addresses this; how IL has become particularly pertinent in light of concerns about misinformation, disinformation and ‘fake news’; how it relates to public policy issues and government priorities; and how it dovetails and overlaps with other literacies – digital, media, political – that all contribute to addressing these concerns.

The second part of the session consisted of a reflection, introduced by Geoff Walton, on two case studies examining how young people differ in the ways that they make judgements about information (both psychologically and physiologically) and what can be done to improve their approach. The first looked at how young people make judgements about information and the second gave an overview of a teaching and learning event that enables them to improve their abilities.

In a recent experiment with 18–24 year olds, it was found that those who are good at making well-calibrated judgements about information (we call them high information discerners) are more curious, tend to use multiple sources to verify information, are more likely to be sceptical about information on search engines such as Google, do not regard the first results page as the most trustworthy information and are cognisant of the importance of authority – for example is a web page on medical advice written by a qualified medic or not? Conversely, low information discerners are significantly less likely to be aware of these issues and are generally dismissive of the content put in front of them. These differences are statistically significant.

It was also found that:
1. When presented with mis-information and put under mild stress, higher discerning individuals viewed the situation as more of a challenge, rather than a threat to their well-being.
2. When presented with mis-information, those with higher information discernment levels experienced more favourable (i.e. adaptive and healthy), physiological outcomes. Specifically, individuals with high discernment responded to stress with a more efficient blood flow, equating to a healthier heart response.
3. When given mis-information, higher information discerning individuals responded with more positive emotions before and after the stressful task, in comparison to lower information discerning individuals.
4. High information discerners tend to show high concentration levels and low information discerners exhibit low concentration.

These results have health and well-being implications as well as raising educational and societal concerns. Happily, a number of tools have been devised to help young people improve their information discernment capabilities. Geoff shared these with participants. This was followed by a discussion of their merits and the implications of the various findings.

Speakers

Stephane Goldstein is Executive Director of InformAll (www.informall.org.uk) , a research and policy consultancy that specialises in information and digital literacy and which he founded in 2015. He is the Advocacy and Outreach Officer on CILIP’s Information Literacy Group, and a member of its Knowledge & Information Management Group. Stéphane is an established researcher and research manager, having published reports and articles on information literacy and other themes relating to the information and data environment. He has produced material for organisations in the information world including CILIP, SCONUL and Knowledge Exchange. He set up InformAll with the aim of helping to develop evidence-based awareness of the importance and relevance of information literacy, having previously worked at the Research Information Network, where he undertook and supported projects addressing not just information literacy, but also open access, open science, the role of libraries in supporting research and research data management.

Dr Geoff Walton is Senior Lecturer in the Dept of Languages, Information and Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University and described as one of the top ‘internationally eminent scholars and researchers’ in information literacy. He is Programme Leader for the MA Library & Information Management. Geoff is Chair of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Information Literacy and an Information Literacy Group (ILG) committee member. He is currently writing up the CILIP ILG funded project ‘Information discernment and psychophysiological well-being in response to misinformed stigmatization’. Geoff has also recently completed a British Academy funded project with Dr Ali Pickard and the late Professor Mark Hepworth. He was a librarian (in the voluntary, public and academic sectors) for 23 years before taking up a Senior Lecturer role at Northumbria University. In 2010, Geoff received the SLA Information Professional Europe Award sponsored by Dow Jones. Geoff’s main research interests are: information literacy, information behaviour, Technology Enhanced Learning, health literacy, data literacy and public libraries. He has published six books and many peer reviewed papers.

Time and Venue

2pm on 30th May 2019, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

Last year, CILIP completely overhauled its definition of IL and this meeting will be an opportunity to learn about the changes. See the CILIP press release and the report).

Part one will look at this in light of concerns about misinformation, disinformation and ‘fake news’; how it relates to public policy issues and government priorities; and how it dovetails and overlaps with other literacies – digital, media, political – that all contribute to addressing these concerns.

The second part of the session will look at two case studies that questioned young people about the ways that they make judgments about information and what can be done to improve their approach. The study raised important concerns. Happily, the session will show a number of tools to help young people improve their information discernment capabilities. There will be an opportunity to discuss their merits and what are the implications of our various findings for our workplaces and the information professional’s role.

Our AGM will take place at the end of the meeting.

Slides

No slides available for this presentation

Tweets

#netikx98

Blog

See our blog report: Information Literacy

Study Suggestions

The Information Literacy Website, brought to you by the CILIP Information Literacy Group is called: infolit.org.uk where you can find more information including the CILIP press release and the report itself.

Geoff Walton’s publications list can be found at: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=UwsIXpUAAAAJ&hl=en

March 2019 Seminar: Open Data

Summary

At this meeting David Penfold gave an introduction to the applications and implications of Open Data and the related topic of Linked Data. As more and more data is generated daily, and even by the minute, how that data is used and what information can be obtained from it becomes more and more significant. An important aspect of this is Open Data and the related topic of Linked Data. This meeting looked at these topics and reviewed how the use of Open and Linked Data can make access to information and how it is used much more powerful.

The meeting mainly consisted of a general (fairly non-technical) introduction to the subject from David Penfold, who gave examples of how open data is used by organisations such as Network Rail. He showed excerpts from presentations from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt and concluded with a consideration of the ethics of Open Data and the implications of AI.

Speaker

Dr David Penfold is vice-chairman of NetIKX and has worked for many years in publishing, with a particular emphasis on content, structured documents and information management within a publishing context. He has previously been Chair of the British Computer Society Electronic Publishing Specialist Group and a Senior Lecturer at the London College of Communication (Deputy Course Director of the MA in Publishing). He is currently Convenor of the terminology Working Group of the ISO Technical Committee on Graphic Technology and a founder member of the recently formed IK SpringBoard, which is working on methods of implementation of the revised CILIP/KPMG report on Information as an Asset.

Time and Venue

2pm on 20th March 2019, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

None

Slides

No slides available for this presentation

Tweets

#netikx97

Blog

A report has been posted on the NetIKX blog

Study Suggestions

Have a look at the website for the Open Data Institute https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=open+data+institute

November 2018 Seminar: The Networkness of Networks

Summary

At this meeting Yasmin Merali, Professor of Systems Thinking and Director of the Centre for Systems Studies at Hull University Business School, and Drew Mackie gave an introduction to network science and demonstrated some practical applications.

Speakers

Yasmin Merali is Professor of Systems Thinking and Director of the Centre for Systems Studies at Hull University Business School. Prior to that she was Co-director of the Doctoral Training Centre for Complexity Science at the University of Warwick and served as Director of Warwick Business School’s Information Systems Research Unit until 2006. Professor Merali is an Expert Evaluator for the EU and was elected to the Executive Committee of the Council of the European Complex Systems Society in 2012 and the Board of the UNESCO Unitwin Complex Systems Digital Campus in 2013. Her research is trans-disciplinary, using complexity theory to address issues of transformation in internet-enabled socio-economic contexts, focusing on network dynamics and the emergence and co-evolution of socio-economic structures. She has extensive consultancy experience in public, private, and third sector organizations, and received a BT Fellowship and an IBM Faculty Award for her work on knowledge management and complexity.
Drew Mackie is a recognised expert in the Kumu online system of network visualisation and is particularly interested in using network methods to evaluate changes in connectivity over the life of projects.
Drew has been active in the Joined Up Digital project for the Centre for Ageing Better, following an exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age with the Age Action Alliance. He has also been involved in social network mapping for the Croydon Best Start programme.

Time and Venue

2pm on 15th November 2018, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

The internet and advances in information and communications are implicated in the emergence of the network economy and the network society. Greater connectivity and access to increased variety and volume of information enable new and complex forms of organisation. This presents opportunities and threats that are challenging both, public and private sector institutions.
This session looks at the quest for more effective ways of dealing with the uncertainties and dynamism of the network economy whilst maximising the opportunities afforded by the Internet and associated technologies. The main speaker was Professor Yasmin Merali, who explores how understanding the “networkness” of networks may enable us to understand the emerging context and to harness network forms of organisation to deliver transformational capacity or stability as appropriate in the face of environmental turbulence.
The afternoon will then feature practical discussion, in which those present can share examples from their own experience. This will be facilitated by Drew Mackie, who has a huge range of practical expertise working in this field.
This seminar will be our ‘Community Network’ meeting to which we welcome practitioners from our colleagues in other IKM networks as our guests.

Slides

No slides available

Tweets

#netikx95 There were no tweets from this meeting due to a power cut.

Blog

See our blog report: Networks

Study Suggestions

Have a look at the Centre for Systems Studies at Hull University: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Centre+for+Systems+Studies+%7C+University+of+Hull

May 2017 Seminar: Developing Effective Collaborative Knowledge Spaces

Summary

Paul J. Corney and Victoria Ward introduced a survey that has been run on this topic and used the meeting to obtain feedback on the questions from those attending. Paul will soon be writing a paper on the topic.
Paul introduced the seminar by noting that three years ago he conducted a survey of Knowledge & Information professionals on how effective their work environments were. Many of the NetIKX community took part and then participated in an afternoon workshop in January 2014.

Paul noted that as work has become more virtual, digital workspaces have become the fashion and increasing numbers work remotely in the so called ‘gig economy’ thanks to the advance of technology and it was therefore a good time to revisit the subject of collaborative knowledge spaces.
Paul reported on a more recent seminar, the results of which will be discussed in a Masterclass in Kuala Lumpur at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, where he hoped to get a more in-depth Asian perspective on what makes an effective collaborative knowledge space.

This seminar at NetIKX, conducted together with Victoria Ward, Director of Sparknow, who has been researching knowledge spaces separately and collaboratively since 1999, looked at the findings and their implications for the knowledge & information profession. It drew on joint experience of running many global assignments and featured case studies of good and not so good practice.

After Paul and Victoria has introduced the subject, syndicate sessions were held, but in a slightly different way to usual in that the questions from the survey were posted round the room and those attending were encouraged to add comments to them, Then groups were formed, each group taking one of the questions from the survey. Finally, there was the usual reporting back.
Paul will be writing up the survey, together with some of the conclusions from this meeting. Copies of his slides are downloadable below (the file is about 15 Mbytes) and links to his paper will probably be included in the report that goes into the NetIKX blog.

Speakers

Paul Corney is Managing Partner of Knowledge et al, a Knowledge Trustee of Plan Zheroes (a recently established charity) and Lead, Knowledge Management at Sparknow. He Chairs KM UK and is a regular contributor/speaker on global knowledge management. He recently ran a knowledge capture and retention programme for a UK Government Organisation. He has recently travelled to Sudan, sponsored in part by The World Bank Group and the University of Khartoum
Paul has published numerous articles including Why good knowledge drives good business published by Sage Publications in 2015. He has a distinguished record as a lecturer on knowledge and information management at degree and MBA level. He sits on the BSI KM Standards Committee, providing the UK’s response to the International Standards Organisation’s (ISO) emerging KM Standards. He is also involved in work to consider how social media impacts business.

Victoria Ward is Director at Sparknow, has a background in exchange traded futures and options, first as a broker, then running R&D at the futures exchange in London leading a global futures business. From there via chief operating officer, capital markets, to chief knowledge officer at an investment bank, she founded Sparknow in late 1997.
Victoria founded Sparknow to honour the human spirit in the workplace and to help individuals, groups and organizations find the stories of their experiences and intentions, and use this process and its products to help things move forward. As important as the outward engagement with clients and colleagues around the world working in organizational storytelling, is the internal aim to work together to find a co-operative, mutual, challenging and reciprocal way of being at work in the world together.

Time and Venue

2pm on 18th May 2017, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

None

Tweets

#netikx85

Blog

See our blog report: Developing Effective Collaborative Knowledge Spaces

Study Suggestions

None

September 2016 Seminar: Connecting Knowledge Communities: Approaches to Professional Development

Summary

At an earlier meeting, a plea was made to examine the way professional development (and, indirectly, training) is managed for knowledge and information managers. This meeting therefore examined possible approaches to such professional development.

A year previously, NetIKX, with the cooperation of a number of other organisations in the field of knowledge and information management, ran a meeting called Connecting Knowledge Communities, at which representatives of these organisations, as well as NetIKX itself, talked about their membership, their focus and their mode of operation.

The organisations were: Henley Forum for Organisational Learning & Knowledge Strategies, the Knowledge and Innovation Network (KIN), IRMS (the Information and Records Management Society), ISKO UK (the UK Chapter of the International Society for Knowledge Organization) and KIDMM (the Knowledge, Information, Data and Metadata Management online forum). This meeting was intended to take that relationship one stage further by examining an area that is likely to be of interest to all these groups.

Luke Stevens-Burt, talked about CPD at CILIP and the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base), which can be used to rate knowledge and skills levels and identify areas for improvement. Christopher Reeves and Karen Thwaites from the Department for Education, talked about CPD, particularly focusing on the new Government KIM framework and how it was produced – there was a unique opportunity to see this from the perspective of the Department for Education because Chris did a lot of the coordination to ensure consultation there and experienced the challenges that this raised.

Speakers

Luke Stevens-Burt is currently Head of Business Development (Member Services) at CILIP. His role is focused on delivering value and support to the library and information profession through his overall responsibility for membership development. Primarily, he manages this through CPD activities, Professional Registration, career support services and Member Networks, all of which are central to the CILIP membership offer, something that he is also responsible for shaping over time to meet the wider needs of the profession. Luke also plays a key role in overseeing engagement with employers and employer groups, accreditation of information and library related degree programmes, membership recruitment and retention strategy, and business growth and development.

Christopher Reeves is a Records Manager and Records Reviewer for the Department for Education; his responsibilities include the day to day management of departmental paper records and the appraisal and selection of these records for public access at The National Archives. He is part of the Government Knowledge and Information Management Profession and has recently been involved, as part of a cross-Government working Group, in the review and revamp of the professional skills framework. Chris has a degree in law and is currently taking steps towards his own professional development, through enrolment on the industry recognised Diploma in Records and Information Management.

Karen Thwaites is part of the Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) team in the Department for Education; she has been part of the team since August 2015. Karen helps to manage the Department’s collaborative digital workspace and provides training and support to develop users and administrators in its use. Karen is currently participating in a talent management scheme aimed at improving the prospects of individuals identified as capable of achieving a higher grade.

Time and Venue

2pm on 21 September 2016, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

Intended Learning Objectives
• To understand the significance of professional development
• To identify alternative approaches to professional development
• To explore ways in which organisations may be able to cooperate in implementing such approaches

Slides

Not available

Tweets

#netikx81

Blog

See our blog report: Connecting Knowledge Communities: Approaches to Professional Development

Study Suggestions

None

July 2016 Seminar: Understanding Networks – and how to win friends and influence people

Summary

If you were to ask your CEO or manager how knowledge and information flows through your organisation, you will probably be shown an organisation chart. This is all very well in theory, but the days of strict hierarchies for communicating and sharing knowledge and information have long been consigned to history. In today’s global economy, working practices rely almost entirely on networks and networking. Today’s networks include both business and social interactions, making possible new types of insight and intelligence. Trends and patterns that could never be detected by human intelligence alone can be made visible in a network.

But do we really understand what our networks look like, and our place in them? Why do some people appear to have more influence than others? Why do some teams collaborate and share knowledge more effectively than others? How can we become more effective networkers and what interventions are required to improve the social and professional networks that we belong to?

The importance of networks and networking in our personal and professional lives cannot be understated. Yet there is still widespread ignorance on this topic. This seminar explored the theory and practice of networks and networking and provided delegates with insights into how they can exploit network thinking in order to become more productive, better engaged and – perhaps – more influential!

Speakers

Drew and David are currently on the Joined Up Digital project for the Centre for Ageing Better, following an exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age with the Age Action Alliance. They have developed social network mapping for the Croydon Best Start programme and other clients, and also created a suite of workshop games and simulations to support co-design. They used these projects to illustrate their approach.

Drew Mackie is a recognised expert in the Kumu online system of network visualisation and is particularly interested in using network methods to evaluate changes in connectivity over the life of projects.

David Willcox has been a print journalist, consultant in regeneration partnerships and community engagement over the past 40 years. David’s work recently has focused on how to mix face-to-face and online activities for collaboration.

Time and Venue

2pm, Thursday 14 July 2016, The British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Pre Event Information

• To provide an understanding of network building, network analysis and networking
• To give a practical introduction to network visualisation and analysis tools
• To recognise the importance of networks and networking for more effective team building, user/customer engagement, professional development and knowledge sharing

Slides

Not available

Tweets

#netikx80

Blog

See our blog report: Understanding Networks

Study Suggestions

None