Buying Pearls From Swine

*Sigh* ... it’s happened again. A few weeks ago I blogged about a KM conference company I called VECK who don’t believe in knowledge sharing unless they are collecting a lot of money for it. I got quite a lot of comments, including some private emails about similar stories, some of them almost as peculiar as mine.

Now it’s happened again. Another company in Singapore, let’s call them Judgement Day, gave us a call a couple of weeks ago. They want to move into the KM seminar space, and they asked if we would provide marketing support for an upcoming seminar in August. Well, they were mistaking us for iKMS a KM non-profit membership organisation, but never mind. When they realised their mistake, they sweetly offered discounts for our clients as well as iKMS members, if we provided support, in email blasts, etc etc, the usual deal.

Hmm hmmm, I thought, looking at the seminar flyer, this looks like quite a good workshop, and I happen to know the presenter, a leading light in KM from Australia. Good quality stuff, even if the price is a bit stiff. And I (and iKMS) had collaborated with Judgement Day before. So why not? In the event went, to our Events Page, and we included it in our email newsletter blast (several thousand people).

I dropped the presenter a note, asking if she’d like to network with the local KM folks in Singapore, and maybe speak at an evening talk, which iKMS does free for members whenever there’s a good local case study, or a visiting KM practitioner from overseas. Knowledge sharing. Good stuff.

I suggested a toipic that wouldn’t clash with the Judgement Day seminar, and I dropped Judgement Day a line as well to keep them in the loop. It seemed everybody would win: we and iKMS would have an interest in promoting the Judgement Day workshop because that would bring the speaker in, Judgement Day would get a good profile in the KM community and could promote future events, the seminar leader would get her networking and share on some fairly important work she’d been doing in Australia. The seminar leader got back to me, perfectly happy to speak. Everything going swimmingly. Then things unravelled pretty quickly.

Without letting me know, the seminar manager at Judgement Day, let’s call her Selina, called the speaker up in Australia and said effectively, if you want to attend any sessions as a participant, we can’t stop you, but if you speak at such an event we’ll regard it as a conflict. When I got an email from my friend to this effect, I was a bit shocked. VECK I could understand, but I’d had quite a long history of collaboration with Judgement Day, although Selina was new.

So I called Selina up. We danced to and fro for a while, and then I got the sting: “If you share her costs with us, she can speak”. Well (i) I wasn’t even doing this for my company, just brokering a connection to promote knowledge sharing involving a professional colleague whom I know and (ii) iKMS is a non-profit for KM professionals that subsidises all its events out of membership subscriptions. I have no idea how anybody could compare a free 30 minute talk on a different topic, with a two day workshop covering the key avctivities in approaching KM, and see a conflict. So I sent Selina an email clarifying all of this and asking her to reconsider.

No joy, back the reply came after several days. “We have to preserve our commercial interest”. So we’ve withdrawn our support for the event (after giving it some pretty hefty free marketing), and so, I suspect, will iKMS. The speaker is still invited to dinner, if she’s not completely turned off by all this nonsense, and if she still manages to get here. But in what universe do swine try to sell pearls? Why do the VECKs and Judgement Days of this world just not get KM? You’d think some of it might rub off. Until it does, I’m not encouraging them.

2 Comments so far

I’ve faced the problem before as well and my normal attitude to said conference organisers is normall fairly straight forward.  If you are paying a full fee and expenses then I might consider you have a right to do this but I don’t advise it - and they normally give in.  If (as is mostly the case) they are paying expenses plus some reduced fee then they have no right to prevent me speaking at another event if it is not in direct conflict.  Suggest you get the speaker to stand up and be counted!

Posted on June 28, 2006 at 04:21 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick I have seent his often as well.  As the Convenor of the Training and Development Taskforce for the Australian Government Libraries Information Network (AGLIN)(Canberra based) we came to am agreement with CAVAL (Melbourne based) to share and promote each others training events. I am mentioning them by name because it has been so positive.
CAVAL is brining Guy St Clair out from the USA in September to run a programme for them.  AGLIN has been able to engage Guy for a 1/2 day strategic planning session and actKM has jointly with AGLIN enagaged him to speak at the monthly actKM forum on the 5th of September.  CAVAL has no problem with either of these events - because they genuinely get the KM thing.
Not all training companies are like the ones you have had an experience with.


Posted on July 01, 2006 at 07:03 AM | Comment permalink

Page 1 of 1 pages

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Comment Guidelines: Basic XHTML is allowed (<strong>, <em>, <a>) Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically generated. URLs are automatically converted into links.