more than mere digital transformation

Is the automation of what has traditionally been human work inevitable?

I know what you’re thinking – there’s some things that robots can do well, but there’s a lot of things that they can’t, and it will be a long, long time before they can match or outperform humans in these tasks. Construction, food preparation, agriculture, mining, manufacturing… while many of these jobs can be automated, my job absolutely cannot be taken by a robot. I’m safe.

Sorry, but that argument is deeply flawed. Thanks to accounting conventions and tax laws dating back centuries, a robot doesn’t need to be better – or more efficient – than a human being at a task to make a business more profitable. It just needs to be 34% as good, or 11% as good, depending on that business’s accounting and amortization policies. —Hatcher Blog

It seems that our bookkeeping systems, developed hundreds of years ago, are the main culprit in edging out human labour in favour of technological capital. John Sharp, Partner at Hatcher, thinks part of the solution is a guaranteed universal income. I agree that this is part of it, but we also need to radically change our education and training systems. This cannot come soon enough, as 43% of senior executives see the “robotic automation of processes” as a high priority over the next two years. As difficult as it has been to earn a decent wage, in spite of rising productivity for the past several decades, it seems it will get even tougher. (more…)

filter failure is not acceptable

Fake news. PR hype. Content marketing. Advertorials. Click bait. Propaganda. Doublespeak. Newspeak. Yellow journalism. Shock jocks. Post-truth. Spam. Phishing.

Digital information comes from all directions, and much of it from dubious sources or with the intent to misinform. Today, it is just too easy to create, replicate, and share digital information. As a result, we are enveloped in it. This is why ad blockers on browsers have become so popular. It’s why everyone needs spam filters for their email. Filter failure is not acceptable in the digital workplace. But neither is living in an information bubble.

The challenge for any organization dependent on knowledge is to ensure that implicit knowledge from those closest to customers and the external world informs the explicit knowledge that is shared throughout the company. Knowledge flow has to continuously become knowledge stock. Individuals practising personal knowledge mastery have to be an intrinsic part of organizational knowledge management. Knowledge comes from and through an organization’s people. It is not some external material distributed through the chain of command. (more…)

beta conversation 2017-07-20

I will be hosting the next Beta Conversation this Thursday, July 20th at 14:00 UTC [07:00 PDT, 10:00 EDT, 15:00 BST, 16:00 CEDT]. The subject will be Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and leadership. The Harvard Business Review article, The Best Leaders are Constant Learners, gives a general idea of the themes to be discussed. Participants can add their own questions in advance.

The session will be 90 minutes long. For participant confidentiality, these sessions will not be recorded.

The format of each session is as follows:

  1. Presentation of the key themes by Harold
  2. Discussion of any questions provided by participants in advance
  3. Open discussion

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understanding systems

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

“We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.” —Ellen Ullman, via @CodeWisdom

@Eric_Weiner: “All travel is time travel. We journey in order to transport ourselves to another era or, better yet, change the rhythm of our lives.” (more…)

freedom inc. review

In these times, can you afford to continue stifling the vast majority of your people instead of giving them a chance to help your business? —Freedom Inc.

If you liked the book Reinventing Organizations (2014) then you will like Freedom Inc. written in 2009. If you have not read Frédéric Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations, read Freedom Inc. instead. Freedom Inc. has many case studies from the same companies that are in Reinventing Organizations but the former are more comprehensive. Carney & Getz definitely have done their homework as they delve into what creates a liberating company. They are much less prescriptive than Laloux in what they learn about corporate liberation and instead focus on finding core principles. They understand that in complex human systems all contexts are different. They offer insights from a wide variety of companies and industries.

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Jay Cross Memorial Award 2017

The Internet Time Alliance Jay Cross Memorial Award is presented to a workplace learning professional who has contributed in positive ways to the field of Real Learning and is reflective of Jay’s lifetime of work.

Recipients champion workplace and social learning practices inside their organization and/or on the wider stage. They share their work in public and often challenge conventional wisdom. The Jay Cross Memorial Award is given to professionals who continuously welcome challenges at the cutting edge of their expertise and are convincing and effective advocates of a humanistic approach to workplace learning and performance.

We announce the award on 5 July, Jay’s birthday.

Following his death in November 2015, the partners of the Internet Time Alliance (Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn) resolved to continue Jay’s work. Jay Cross was a deep thinker and a man of many talents, never resting on his past accomplishments, and this award is one way to keep pushing our professional fields and industries to find new and better ways to learn and work.

The Internet Time Alliance Jay Cross Memorial Award for 2017 is presented to Marcia Conner. (more…)

our simply complex world

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

@ScottSantens: “Our problem is not that jobs are going away thanks to technology. It’s that we require jobs for income, and believe 40 hours is ‘full-time'”.

@Richard_Florida: “Cities need to be places of chance encounter and eccentricity, rather than exclusivity and segregation.”

What are the lessons people most often learn too late in life? by @dsearls

“Humans are learning animals, and among the things we all learn eventually—or should—is that knowledge is provisional, truths are opinions, and our first calling is to learn more and keep our mind open, even though that gets harder as experiences accumulate and prejudices with them.”

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soft skills are permanent skills

Are soft skills the new hard skills? I asked this question six years ago. I would now suggest that hard skills are really temporary skills. They come and go according to the economy and the state of technology. Today, we need very few people who know how to shoe a horse. Soft skills are permanent ones. In a recent New York Times article the company LinkedIn had identified a number of currently in-demand skills.

HARD SKILLS
Cloud Computing Expertise
Data Mining and Statistical Analysis
Smartphone App Development
Data Storage Engineering and Management
User Interface Design
Network Security Expertise

SOFT SKILLS
Communication
Curiosity
Adaptability
Teamwork
Empathy
Time Management
Open-Mindedness

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a liquid stream of facts

“Ironically, in an age of instant global connection, my certainty about anything has decreased. Rather than receiving truth from an authority, I am reduced to assembling my own certainty from the liquid stream of facts flowing through the web. Truth, with a capital T, becomes truths, plural. I have to sort the truths not just about things I care about, but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can’t possibly have any direct knowledge. That means that in general I have to constantly question what I think I know. We might consider this state perfect for the advancement of science, but it also means that I am more likely to have my mind changed for incorrect reasons.” —Kevin Kelly

This is perhaps the most succinct rationale for disciplines like personal knowledge mastery (PKM). We can no longer rely upon traditional gatekeepers of information and knowledge. Each of us must engage with others and develop trusted knowledge networks. None of us are smart enough to handle all the connections in our digital lives on our own. We need to use both our human networks and our machines in concert. Let me give just two examples. (more…)

Antigonish 2.0

There is a tradition of using public broadcasting for debate and public education in Canada. Two  popular programmes on CBC radio in the 1930’s and 1940’s were the Citizens’ Forum and the Farm Radio Forum.

“Farm Forum innovations included a regional report-back system, whereby group conclusions were collected centrally and broadcast regularly across Canada, occasionally being sent to appropriate governments. In addition, discussion – leading to self-help – resulted in diverse community ‘action projects’ such as co-operatives, new forums and folk schools. Farm and community leaders claimed that the give-and-take of these discussions provided useful training for later public life. In 1952, UNESCO commissioned research into Farm Forum techniques. Its report was published in 1954, and consequently India, Ghana and France began using Canadian Farm Forum models in their programs.” —Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Even though radio is a one-way medium, innovations such as programme guides by mail one week in advance, local discussion groups, and national feedback on individual responses kept people actively involved. Imagine a group of farmers gathering at a neighbour’s house, bringing food for a communal supper, and then discussing issues of great social relevance,  like the possibility of medicare. Today, the CBC produces programmes such as Cross-Country Checkup and the Radio Noon Phone-In for similar purposes. (more…)