Alice MacGillivray

Supporting Leadership & Knowledge Work Across Boundaries

Archive for February, 2009

On Synchronicity

We’re trained—as Rupert Sheldrake points out—to treat what we might call synchronicity (or coherence, or connection and alignment, or the power of the mind as something larger than the brain, or the power of attraction) as coincidence.

That may be true. Yet I have had that experience that many of us have had, where if you open yourself up to new possibilities more than usual, synchronicity is amplified.

Take the last few hours, for example. I was working with a coach for the second day in a row: a sort of post-doc transition treat. Somewhere around 2 in the afternoon we spent time exploring the potential for a new level of working relationship with a colleague (we’ll call “Barry”) as we might collaborate on a project. A short time later, we moved to explore my picking up new or dormant hobbies and interests, such as the uninsured motorbike in the carport that has a dead battery, gummy cylinders and a rider who has lost confidence. I talked about how challenging it had been to learn to ride a bike in my late 40s (or was it really 50?). I thought it would be easy for a frequent bicycle rider who drives a stick shift, but it was probably the most difficult and exhausting thing I’ve done in my life.

I got home an hour later to find an e-mail from “Barry,” which had arrived at 2:20 Pacific. He apologized for being out of touch, but he was exhausted from the beginner motorcycle course he was taking. By the way, I am pretty sure Barry is older than I am.

I opened an online forum, thinking I’d share this story in a thread about synchronicity. A call for papers about social justice caught my eye because a colleague—Kurt Richardson—is on the journal’s editorial board. I’ve never heard Kurt talk about social justice, and I was curious what threads were woven together in this special issue. The first thing I see is that I know one of the special issue editors from a totally different stream of my life (Fielding Graduate University). Even more curious, I go to the journal website. There I see the names of two other board members: they edited a book in which I’ve just had a chapter published (different thread of life, different content, different continent, no connections I’d known of). I then open the “Call for Papers” link and the first item is an [expired] call about research and reflexivity (a topic I’ve been discussing with a person with whom I hope to co-author a book).

I must say this deluge of coincidences feels too intense to be, well, coincidental.

What makes a blog post/tweet valuable?

I am working with a group of talented and respected leaders, most of whom have not worked with technologies such as forums, discussion groups, blogs, wikis, communities of practice platforms, etc.  They have an online space in which they are starting to post some questions, comments and resources.

Several have asked me what makes a post valuable or meaningful. I thought it only fair to ask some of my virtual colleagues for their views, so I asked via twitter (@4KM) and CPSquare Thanks to Barb McDonald, Brenda Kaulback, Brian J. McNely, Christina Merl, Jas Darrah, Jenny Mackness, John D. Smith, Joitske Hulsebosch, Sibylle Noras, Tony Burgess (also Nancy Dixon and his CompanyCommand colleagues), VMaryAbraham and others who may join this conversation in the future.

The attached file — meaningful-posts is my effort to synthesize and quote their ideas.

Knowledge Management Research in Africa

I noticed on twitter that “elmi” was trying to assemble a list of South African KM publications. The community KM4Dev could be helpful. I also thought it would be interesting to see what would come up in a quick search using the more generic term “Africa” for KM work.  I found more than expected, and have just scratched the surface. The link below shows a few of the existing papers (not filtered to exclude work that might better be described as information management).


Public engagement & social technologies

Today, Nancy White joined one of our calls for leaders in park and protected area systems. Our focus was on how their public engagement efforts might be enhanced through use of social technologies and related tools. A common challenge for these professionals is maintaining the relevance of systems developed with a European-shaped North American perspective of wilderness. Youth who have grown up in cities and new Canadians from Asia, for example, may have totally different perspectives. I think my favourite idea was involving new Canadians in creating videos about their first experiences in parks, and posting them on YouTube. Park organizations could learn a lot about their interests, their ideas of positive experiences and their stories. And their stories could be very powerful for their communities.