We learn more by …


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A blue ocean shift in a law firm

I’ve written before about Blue Ocean strategies.

This morning I read this very interesting post about a law firm in Central Asia who decided to make a blue ocean shift and refocused their business.

It must have been a daunting prospect to change, but they appear to have created a special niche for themselves and created a business which is different to most corporate law firms, ultimately winning a prestigious international award recognising their innovative approach.


As they said themselves, they needed to accept a shift rather than a gradual change.


A butterfly is not merely a more sophisticated version of a caterpillar, but rather a completely new organism with its own unique qualities.”



Let me know what you think about their “shift” in the comments below.

And if you are interested in Strategy and Innovation, come along to my workshops in London.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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On sharing knowledge …

If you are interested in knowledge sharing, click here to visit my website where my articles for Managing Partner on knowledge sharing in law firms are available.

And if you are looking for UK Knowledge Management training ….

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In the fishbowl

Recently I attended a knowledge conference in an entirely different sector (knowledge mobilisation in health and social care) where I came across lots of ideas which were new to me which I’d like to share.

One of these was the “fishbowl conversation”, which particularly interested me as a means to have a conversation (with all the benefits that a small 4 person face-to-face conversation has) but share that conversation with a group.

As anyone who has met me/spoken to me/read this blog for a while will know, I am very keen on conversation as an efficient and effective means to uncover and share knowledge, so I was excited by the idea of a technique which promised to share the uncovered knowledge and experience from a conversation, including the non-verbal communication, with a wider audience.


goldfish bowl

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash


A fishbowl conversation works with two concentric circles of chairs:

  • The inner circle of about 4 people are the speakers and drive the conversation.
  • The outer circle sits quietly, listens, observes and thinks.

There is one spare chair in the inner circle and when someone from the outer circle wishes to join the conversation, they sit in the vacant chair and someone from the inner circle must leave and join the audience.

Often the inner circle also has an object (in our “fishbowl” it was …  of course … a model of Dory from Finding Nemo) to hold to make sure that only one person speaks at a time and there isn’t too much interrupting.

As well as listening to the verbal communication, the outer circle can observe the non-verbal communication and dynamics of the conversation.


I found the experience very interesting and I learned a lot from hearing other people’s experiences.

On hearing about the technique, I had wondered if those in the inner circle would feel shy or “on show” and so feel inhibited from sharing negative experiences, but that didn’t appear to happen.

The inner-circle changed quite seamlessly. There was respectful sharing and no one appeared to find the experience stressful. I personally didn’t join the inner circle as the topic under discussion wasn’t something I knew anything at all about, but those who did said afterwards that the experience was almost as intimate as a normal conversation and it didn’t feel like they were “on show” or on a panel.

There are different types of “fishbowl conversation”, depending on what the inner conversation is for.

The version I took part in is called an “open fishbowl” as those in the outer circle can join the inner circle, but there is also a “closed fishbowl” when the inner circle remains the same throughout the conversation and those in the outer circle stay in their seats and listen to the whole conversation without joining in.

What do you think?

Have you already tried this technique out? Did it work? How did you find it? Could this technique be useful in learning and knowledge-sharing situations or for difficult conversations in a business setting?

Thanks to Victoria Treadway and Tracey Pratchett (NHS knowledge and information services) for introducing me to fishbowls.

More info and resources


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Try something new


2018 training programme here.

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Taken for granted

I’m a fan of “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Kim and Mauborgne. You can read my previous post here.

Recently there has been a lot of talk in legal circles about disruptors and most of the chat is around what is innovative and different, and in particular, what new technologies could be used.

But if you don’t want to create something entirely new, how can you move your business strategically to the “blue water”? And how can KM and KMers help?


blue water

Photo by Raining Huang on Unsplash

One of the suggestions from Kim & Mauborgne is that you ask certain key questions in order to understand buyer value elements more accurately.

A couple of these struck me as particularly useful for those wanting to make a shift or working for internal clients:

  1. Which of the factors that your industry/sector/peers take for granted, should be eliminated?
  2. Which factors should be reduced well below your industry’s standard?

We all love to over-deliver and delight our clients, but how often are you over-delivering in the wrong factors?

We all find it very hard to drop standards as clients’ needs change, so we layer new services on top of old ones and we over-engineer products and services adding unnecessary additional cost for things the clients don’t really want.

When did you last question the assumptions underlying your business/service?

What aspects of your service delivery do you take for granted? What “best practice” has become such an industry standard that no one even questions it anymore?

How much more business could you gain if you concentrated your efforts on those aspects which customers (and that massive pool of not-yet-customers) value most?

And for KMers in particular:

  1. How can you support your organisation in obtaining the right customer information on these topics in order to make an informed decision?
  2. How can you deliver what your internal customers/fee earners truly value, rather than what has always been done and what you perceive as your industry standard?
  3. Are there any client-facing KM services you could identify that provide new value?


What do you think? Are these useful questions to help you think differently and make a shift? What will you be doing differently now?


If you are interested in KM Strategy or revamping your strategy, come along to my afternoon workshop on 26th April 2018 in London – more info & book here.

For more, read “Blue Ocean Strategy” and “Blue Ocean Shift” and sign up for the Blue Ocean toolkit.


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Be an awakener.


2018 programme of training here.

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