Using Mentoring and Coaching for Knowledge Management LO30276

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 06/18/03

Replying to LO30256 --

Dear Organlearners,

Nugroho HP <> wrote:

>I received this topic in my inbox, then I wondering what kind
>of mentoring that really make different in our learning. Refer to
> AM de Lange wrote:
>"Mentoring is also not a modern practice. It was practised
>commonly in ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian and
>even African civilisations. In medieval times it was made the
>cornerstone of many a university's educational program."
>So, it was perform by our 'granny' in their circumstances. If
>that so... I am sure that might be any specific pattern or formula
>in our literatures. Basically, I'm not quite familiar with mentoring.
>Is this different with leadership patterns, and what we have to
>prepare? Also, in our personal mastery, how to build
>competencies to match with mentoring skills?

Greetings dear Nugroho,

The history of mentoring began with Greek mythology some 2500 years ago.
In Homer's "Odyssey" Mentor was the name of the teacher of Telemachus, the
son of Odysseus. Homer described Mentor as a "wise and trusted counselor".
When Odesseus went on long voyages, Mentor also had to look after
Odysseus' household and act as father to Telemachus. Mentor was thus more
than a teacher. He was the union of both path and goal.

What then is the difference between a teacher and a mentor. A friend once
summarised it as "A teacher is a paid servant while a mentor is a
benevolent master". In this saying i think that he has tried to articulate
that there is a spontaneous counseling between the wise teacher and the
mentee which cannot ever be bought by money. Actually, it is more than
counseling. The mentee does not only seek for advice, but also shares
his/her accomplishments with the mentor.

Thirty one years ago, soon after I began to teach, my own mentor (also a
teacher) cautioned me that many pupils will visit me, asking for advice.
But some will visit me to set up a mentor-mentee relationship in which i
had to act as their adult companion in their own course to adulthood. They
will want from me attention, help, advice, information, encouragement,
support, feedback, compassion and friendship. This sort of summarises all
kind of mentor-mentee relationships. The mentor has the greater
experience, knowledge and wisdom. This does not make the mentor superior,
but only shows that he/she is further on the path of learning. Differences
in age, culture, religion and such things play no role mentor-mentee
relationships. It is rather things of character like trustworthyness,
empathy, respect, ethics patience and integrity which play major roles.

What drives the formation of a mentor-mentee relationship? The natural
desire to share knowledge in a symbiotic manner. In this the goal of the
mentee is to evolve as the mentor did in terms of complex adaptation
(Kauffman), irreversible self-organisation (Prigogine) and autopoiesis
(Maturana). The goal of the mentor is to enjoy the spontaneous symbiosis.

Mentorship is not leadership. The mentor allows the mentee to explore
freely his/her own path of learning rather than stipulating with detail
which path has to be followed. The mentor stays at the side of the mentee
rather than going in front. Here the task is to optimize the personal
mastery of the mentee, but never in a prescriptive and formal manner.
Leaders may abuse their authority, but mentors avoid this like pest.
Leaders may want to clone themselves, but mentors allow each mentee to
develop in a unique personality.

I think that that the following two criteria are also essential to mentorship.
* Profound observation using as much senses (see, hear, ..) as possible.
* Deep understanding of constructive creativity in all walks of life.

As for Knowledge Mangement (KM), i am not fond of it because almost all of
it is actually information management. However, the closest we can get to
KM is in a mentor-mentee relationship. Here the mentor should avoid acting
as most managers do. Trying to get into the mind of a mentee and managing
what is going on there is about the worst thing to do. Rather observe
carefully what the mentee is telling in words and body language. Then
adjust oneself so as to provide a richer environment for the mentee to
>Thanks for enlightening.

It is a pleasure.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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