Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dear Boss, here’s why you should let me attend a Knowledge Café

I’ve always thought of you as a fair, supportive and trusting manager. That's why I was wondering how you’d feel about giving me a few hours away from work every couple of weeks to have a chat with my colleagues? While you’re at it would you mind paying for some coffee and cookies for us too? (Rob and me have a soft spot for the macadamia nut and white chocolate sort). Now before you call me a cheeky so and so, I think I better explain a little further.

Don’t get me wrong, I like working where I do and everyone’s really pleasant. But, it just feels awkward sometimes chatting with my colleague Louise when I need her opinion on something. I feel like I’m disturbing the quiet environment of the office.

I sometimes bump into Jim from Accounts at the water cooler. He’s a great sounding board and gives me some useful nuggets of advice about my work - except our conversations are never long enough. It’s a shame really, because I know he could help me with some of the tasks you give me and we never really get a chance to work together, walking in the different corridors that we do.

Then there’s people like Imran who I met at a local event. He’s not a member of our company, but maybe that’s not a bad thing? Imran looks at situations in a different way and uses his expertise to help me discover new ways of working. Perhaps we could sort a cup of Joe or two for him too?

If I’m honest I’ve asked around the business and most of us agree that it would be great to have access to a relaxed informal workshop away from work. It’s this type of environment that really helps encourage an open conversation around a particular business challenge we might have and I reckon it would also increase the collective knowledge of our company by sharing these ideas with others.

I’m rambling on now and I know you like me to explain my needs in easy to follow points with a sound business justification, so here goes…

Knowledge Cafes can be used for many business ends. Some specific examples might be to:

-         Surface hidden problems and opportunities that exist in our organisation or in a department or project - especially ones caused by lack of communication.

-         As a sales tool to engage our customers in conversation and thus better understand their needs and for them to better understand our products or service 

-          Break down our organizational silos so that I have a place to meet likeminded people like Jim more regularly.

-         Give people a voice for them to feel heard, making them less cynical and more engaged in their work

-          As a stimulus for innovation by challenging people to reflect on their thinking; help them surface new ideas and make new connections

-          An opportunity to eat some white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies. If you’ve tried them before you’d know where I was coming from.

Thanks in Advance,

Arshad Ahmed

-          NB There will be a Manchester Launch for Knowledge Café’s at the Starbucks Drive Thru in Trafford Park. It’s free to attend. For more information please join the Knowledge Café 0151 Groupsite (also free to register) organised by Peter Bond HERE

-          Further information of the Knowledge Café concept can be found HERE 

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