beta conversation 2017-04-05

I will be hosting the next Beta Conversation on Wednesday, April 5th at 15:00 UTC. The subject will be understanding the effects of technology. It will focus on examining pervasive and emerging technologies from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan’s media tetrad as well as other perspectives (see image at bottom). (more…)


Thank Goodness It’s Monday. Now that’s something we freelancers appreciate 🙂 As part of the wonder of Monday, I am starting a series of posts, similar to Friday’s Finds, but posted on the best day of the week: Monday. I have no intention of making this a regular feature but from time to time on Monday, I will share something I think may be useful. This week I am sharing some of my social bookmarks that relate to personal knowledge mastery. Just look below the cartoon … (more…)

digital literacy for the arts

Last week I attended the Arts in a Digital World Summit in Montréal. The event launched the four-year funding program of $88.5 million aimed at amplifying “the quality, scale and sharing of Canadian art through digital technology”. One aspect of this fund that gives me confidence is the desire to fund many small projects of around $10,000 and also the willingness to invest in risky projects. Given the complexity of the challenge, using a probe-sense-respond approach only makes sense.

The presentation by Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform, was a highlight for me. Astra stated that the digital advertising model, which is the force behind platform capitalism, only reinforces economic inequity. She urged the audience to ‘occupy the internet’ especially since artists are those with the power to change society. (more…)

networked knowledge creates value

As we enter the network era, the dominant technology is the internet and working knowledge is distributed through professional communities. Compare this to the last 75 years where the company was connected to a factory and knowledge was delivered from business schools. Tangible goods, best practices, and standardization are being replaced by intangible assets, emergent practices, and transparency. In the network era, business is changing.

In the networked knowledge triad, I tried to show how real value creation today happens outside the organization. Therefore people should develop value creation networks that connect to the world, beyond the current workplace. These networks are the modern equivalents of degrees and certificates. They are the value we bring to our work teams and organizations. But as the life expectancy of organizations decreases, we can no longer depend on employers to provide stability for our working lives. That stability now comes from our networks. (more…)

power, control, literacy

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

@Kasparov63: “To play the victim despite holding power, one needs dangerous enemies. If they don’t exist, they must be created or their threat inflated.”

@kevin2kelly: “Humans are experts at inefficiency. All art, discovery, innovation, creation, are inherently inefficient. Efficiency is for robots, not us.”

We didn’t lose control – it was stolen, HT @josemurilo

“Let me state it plainly: Google and Facebook are not allies in our fight for an equitable future – they are the enemy.

These platform monopolies are factory farms for human beings; farming us for every gram of insight they can extract.

If, as Tim [Berners-Lee] states, the core challenge for the Web today is combating people farming, and if we know who the people farmers are, shouldn’t we be strongly regulating them to curb their abuses?”


networked knowledge triad

There are three structures that exist in all organizations, with three different sources of power, and three types of leadership required for each structure. This is the thesis that Niels Pflaeging puts forth in Organizational Physics.

  1. Formal Structure – Hierarchy – Compliance Leadership
  2. Informal Structure – Influence – Social Leadership
  3. Value Creation Structure – Reputation – Value Creation Leadership


gaining insight through social and informal learning

Organizational performance improvement is comprised of reducing errors and increasing insights, according to Gary Klein. For the past century, management practice has focused very much on error reduction, with practices such as Six Sigma, especially in manufacturing.

“Fifty-eight of the top Fortune 200 companies bought into Six Sigma, attesting to the appeal of eliminating errors. The results of this ‘experiment’ were striking: 91 per cent of the Six Sigma companies failed to keep up with the S&P 500 because Six Sigma got in the way of innovation. It interfered with insights.” —Gary Klein

Learning and development (L&D) practices reflect this priority on error reduction. Subject matter experts are interviewed or observed, good practices are noted, and then training programs are designed to develop the skills that make up some or all of a job. Anyone with the requisite abilities, as quantified in the job description, can then be trained. (more…)

gamers, artists, and citizens


Learning is the new literacy. Personal computers are just one example. We buy new ones every few years. Operating systems change. Programs change, get replaced, or become obsolete. But we often continue with the same habits until something goes wrong. Few of us do the equivalent of ‘looking under the hood’. We learn enough to get our work done, but often do not take time to understand the underlying systems and logic.

By not being active learners we lose the agility to react quickly to changing situations. We have to take the time to keep learning. It’s an effort that too many of us avoid. When was the last time you learned a new computer program? How many books do you read? When did you try to master a new skill? These are things we need to make a priority. If not, we risk becoming obsolete before our time. Aiming for retirement is not a bad thing, but what happens when it is forced on us and we are not ready?

“Statistics Canada estimates 158,400 people aged 55 to 64 were handed permanent layoffs in 2015. Is there any hope of a comfortable retirement for those folks?” – CBC News


art and monopolies

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

“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”—Nina Simone, via @PENamerican

“It seems my latest hobby is finding interesting artists to follow on Instagram. Art as a refuge etc.”Hugh MacLeod

“I studied critical thinking for my PhD thesis. What we’re missing in the world isn’t critical thinking as much as it’s listening and empathy.”@Bali_Maha (more…)

mastery and models

Personal Knowledge Mastery

Harvard Business Review described The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, as one of the seminal management books of the previous 75 years. The five disciplines necessary for a learning organization are:

  1. Personal Mastery
  2. Mental Models
  3. Shared Vision
  4. Team Learning
  5. Systems Thinking (which integrates the other four)

These disciplines have influenced my professional work which is based on individuals taking control of their learning and professional development and actively engaging in social networks and communities of practice. In this article I want to focus on the first two disciplines: Mastery and Models.

Personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is a framework I have developed over the past 12 years. It is an individual, disciplined process by which we make sense of information and our interactions with people and ideas. While it is an individual discipline, PKM is of little value unless the results are shared by connecting to others, and contributing to meaningful conversations. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts as we build on the knowledge of others. As knowledge workers or citizens, PKM is our part of the social learning contract. Without effective PKM at the individual level, social learning has less value. (more…)