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).