King Arthur's Round Table: How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations / Edition 1

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One of the most familiar stories of Arthurian legend involves King Arthur’s Round Table. Arthur’s table was a significant innovation: Rather than issue proclamations from the end of a long table, a round shape brought him closer to his court and facilitated collaboration. Arthur’s table also allowed him to easily call on his knights’ particular expertise at the precise moment he wanted it.

The Round Table can teach us much about effective communication, collaboration, and organizational structure. By reducing hierarchy and making interactions easier, Arthur discovered an important source of power–organizational collaboration. This new collaboration was much more powerful than the old hierarchy and allowed Arthur to fulfill his dream of a united England. The simple innovation of the Round Table became perhaps Arthur’s greatest asset.

In King Arthur’s Round Table, renowned Harvard professor David Perkins uses the metaphor of the Round Table to uncover the importance of effective collaboration and communication in today’s intelligent organizations. Traditional steep hierarchies and departmental silos are insufficient for dealing with the complexities of modern business, since leaders must rely on the input and expertise of those around them. Like Arthur, today’s successful business and government leaders understand that communication and collaboration must be fostered and that the decision-making process must be opened to anyone who can offer insight and wisdom.

Managers today know that they must embrace collaboration to succeed, but they often don’t know how to do it. Using examples from the past, the modern world of corporations, nonprofits, and governments, and everyday life, Perkins shows how the Round Table metaphor serves the needs of modern organizations. He offers a practical methodology that maximizes the intelligence level of a group while ensuring good group communication. It’s an invaluable tool for companies struggling to stay ahead of the competition and for any organization wherein efficiency and group morale are imperative to success.

In King Arthur’s Round Table, Perkins shows how applying the cooperative ethic to your business, government, or nonprofit organization can be its greatest strength.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471237723
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/14/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,536,524
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID PERKINS is a senior professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a founding member of Harvard’s Project Zero, a research outfit focused on cognitive-symbolic capacities and their implications for learning in all settings, and for many years codirected the project with renowned education specialist Howard Gardner. He is also the author of The Eureka Effect: The Art and Logic of Breakthrough Thinking, Outsmarting IQ: The Emerging Science of Learnable Intelligence, and Smart Schools: Better Thinking and Learning for Every Child.

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Table of Contents



A Smarter Table.

Putting Our Heads Together.

Power to the People.

Cooling Down Conflict.

Team Intelligence.

From Camelot to Reality.


Ernesto’s Truth.

ImageTech and VisionTech.

How Round Is Your Table?

Process Smart and Deciding Smart.

People Smart and the Language of Actions.

The Usual Suspects.

Two Archetypes of Negotiation.

Contact Architecture.


Yakety Yak, 1958.

The Dilemma of Feedback.

Three Faces of Feedback.

Which Style When?

A Feedback Camelot.

Four Brands of Better Feedback.

Findings from the Feedback Front.

Who to Whom.

Here There Be Dragons.


Mind Melds.

What Is Intelligence?

Difficulty 1: The Five-Brain Backlash.

Difficulty 2: Cognitive Oversimplification.

Difficulty 3: Emotional Oversimplification.

Difficulty 4: Regression in the Face of Stress.

Difficulty 5: The Domino Effect.

Difficulty 6: The Power Advantage.

Are We Ready to Give Up Yet?


Policy 113.

What Leaders Do.

Four Forms of Leadership.

Leadership for Intelligence.

Man with a Horn.

Streetwise Street by Street.

Here There Be Dragons.


King Arthur’s Ants.

Common Scents.

Knowledge Weather.

Why Should I Buy This?

Yes, But, Rebut.

The Asian Executive’s Question.

Making the Weather.


One of Seven.

Three Faces of Coblaboration.

What Facilitation Does and Why It Is Not Enough.

The Good: What Collaboration Means, How It Helps, and When It Helps.

The Bad: The Pitfalls of Problem Sharing.

The Rules of Which.

The Ugly: The Challenge of Collaborative Citizenship.

The Art of Citizenship.

Here There Be Dragons.


A Tragedy of Trust.

Calm as a Clam.

Three Ways of Settling Conflict.

Regressive and Progressive Conflict.

How Trust Works.

Trust in the Land of Lear.

Better Conflict through Trust.

Here There Be Superdragons.


Presto Change-o.

Poetry in Motion.

The One-Eyed Woman.

Pocket Change.

How Change Takes Flight.

The Dragon Unlearning.

The Three Arts of Unlearning.

The Road to Camelot.




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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    The King would Approve

    King Arthur's Round Table is a thought-provoking, useful, and at times marvelously playful look at the group dynamics that often define and challenge organizations. Well-written and loaded with practical examples and handy 'toolkits' for easy use and reference, this book is a must for anyone working in an organization. Wit and wisdom are in ample supply throughout this highly readable and engaging book.

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