first we shape our tools

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@wimleers : “We’re building tools for authoritarianism just to get people to click on a shoe ad” — @zeynep at @DrupalConNA #DCzeynep (i.e. @facebook)

Automation is transforming work and the US isn’t ready, via @scottsantens

‘The latest study reveals that for manufacturing workers, the process of adjusting to technological change has been much slower and more painful than most experts thought. “We were looking at a span of 20 years, so in that timeframe, you would expect that manufacturing workers would be able to find other employment,” Restrepo said. Instead, not only did the factory jobs vanish, but other local jobs disappeared too. Acemoglu and Restrepo say that every industrial robot eliminated about three manufacturing positions, plus three more jobs from around town.’

Alien Knowledge: When Machines Justify Knowledge

“Since we first started carving notches in sticks, we have used things in the world to help us to know that world. But never before have we relied on things that did not mirror human patterns of reasoning — we knew what each notch represented — and that we could not later check to see how our non-sentient partners in knowing came up with those answers. If knowing has always entailed being able to explain and justify our true beliefs — Plato’s notion, which has persisted for over two thousand years — what are we to make of a new type of knowledge, in which that task of justification is not just difficult or daunting but impossible?”


simplifying the complexity

Complex Problems

I like complex problem-solving. Perhaps my most interesting project was when a client gave me a statement of work to ‘simplify the complexity’. I did not have a solution but felt that with my extended networked I would be able to solve their problem. I have explained this project in detail (video) and how I was able to make connections with people in my network as well as access the materials I had curated over the years and saved to my blog and other retrievable media. In this case, ‘chance favoured the connected mind’, as Stephen B. Johnson would say.

In the end I was able to develop a simple lens to evaluate current and future tools against the learning and performance requirements of the company. One advantage of this project was that I had worked with the company previously and understood the context of the work. The image below is an example of how we evaluated each tool in the enterprise. (more…)

the innovation imperative

“It turns out that to develop a ‘cumulative culture’ – technology that constantly ratchets up in complexity and diversity – a species needs to be able to share information very accurately. It doesn’t matter how much novel invention takes place, unless those inventions are replicated accurately then they die out before they can be built upon.” —Prof. Kevin Laland, University of St. Andrew’s

Humans differ from other primates because we share our knowledge and build upon it. Society has advanced because we share that knowledge with a large population. If not, we will cease to progress,  because innovation is a network activity. (more…)

training > performance > social

Thank Goodness It’s Monday! This is my second TGIM post. Mondays for freelancers mean new opportunities. Weekends are often times to get work done when it’s quiet. Mondays are good days to take a day to reflect, as clients are usually busy going through their inboxes and catching up. So happy Monday to everyone.

In my last TGIM post I went through my social bookmarks on PKM. This post looks at resources related to my training-performance-social workshop. (more…)

humility is the new smart

In Humility is the New Smart, the authors put forth a new mental model and management framework, based on extensive research on what the ‘smart machine age’ (SMA) will look like.

“We believe that to truly excel at the higher level thinking and emotional engagement underlying the SMA Skills requires us to engage in four key behaviors: Quieting Ego; Managing Self (one’s thinking and emotions); Reflective Listening; and Otherness (emotionally connecting and relating to others).”

The book explores each of these four skills in depth and provides exercises and questions for reflection. In addition to the four skills are five principles of what the authors call the ‘New Smart’. The second principle is core to my own work: “My mental models are not reality—they are only my generalized stories of how my world works.” (more…)

simply PKM

PKM = personal knowledge mastery

Why is PKM necessary?

Most of us work with others. We cannot do everything alone. We need advice and guidance on complex matters. This requires a knowledge network. We most readily take advice from people we trust. By building a network and getting to know people with expertise we can learn and have access to knowledge beyond ours. Successful people have diverse, but select professional social networks. (more…)

leave the hierarchies to the algorithms

What happens when you connect unthinking computer programs with a culture of obedience and compliance? Algorithms run much of society and business today, from applying for a mortgage to determining which passengers to eject from an overbooked aircraft. Coupled with authoritarianism, algorithms can produce devastating results, says John Robb at Global Guerillas.

“If a corporate algorithm yields a terrible result, smart organizations admit the failure. They admit it didn’t work to both your customers and employees. Algorithms don’t have feelings. They won’t cry if you talk trash about them. Also, smart organizations don’t punish employees for raising the flag on a broken algorithm. One last thought. Smart organizations know what their algorithms are (or that they even exist) and how to fix them. Dumb organizations see the process as inviable. It should be easy to spot the difference between these organizations by the number of disasters seen online,” —John Robb


friday’s good finds

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@curtisogden: ‘Overheard: Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I say repeatedly that ‘Systems eat culture for lunch’.

@katrynadow: “Consulting teaches you are only as good as your last gig, so reputation is critical.”

Twenty Filters that influence the way we see things, by @FSonnenberg

1. Mental filter. Some folks have blinders on. They view situations from one perspective — they’re unable or unwilling to see other viewpoints.
2. Black or white. Some people focus on extremes and exclude everything in-between. They see everything as good or bad, right or wrong, all or nothing.
3. Overgeneralization. Some folks turn a single situation into a sweeping generalization. They assume that because “one teacher is lazy,” the whole school is terrible.
4. Labeling. Some people label a group based on the behavior of a few members.
5. Jumping to conclusions. Some folks reach a conclusion without any evidence to support their claim …


7 essential facets for enterprise knowledge sharing

Most large organizations today have some suite of social tools to share information and knowledge. But how do they know if they have the optimum tools for their context? Too often the tools are selected and then the workers are left to figure out how to use them. Based on work with several clients over the past few years, I have identified seven essential facets for enterprise social networks. The objective of these networks should be to help to capture knowledge, encourage sharing, and enable action. This is the business value proposition implicit in these enterprise social networks: to make better decisions on which to take action.

There are three levels that must be aligned:

  1. empowered individuals
  2. appropriate tools
  3. organizational processes


stories connect knowledge

“Perhaps the most central thrust in KM [knowledge management] is to capture and make available, so it can be used by others in the organization, the information and knowledge that is in people’s heads as it were, and that has never been explicitly set down.” —KM World

Knowledge management is a mixture of explicit and implicit knowledge sharing. It can be as explicit as an organizational knowledge base, or as implicit as the work culture. A lot depends on what the organization wants to preserve. Is it how-to knowledge, like a trade secret formula, or is it certain practices and norms that define the culture? Or is it both? Every organization has to define this for itself.

To be effective, knowledge management has to be part of the workflow. The people doing the work and making decisions how to do it must be involved. This starts with the discipline of personal knowledge mastery (PKM): a set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world and work more effectively. PKM is an ongoing process of filtering information from our networks, creating knowledge individually and with our teams, and then discerning with whom and when to share the artifacts of our knowledge. PKM helps to put our personal knowledge maps out there for others to see. (more…)