we are the experts

If work is learning, and learning is the work, why do we need experts responsible for managing it? Do we need learning experts in the network era? Hierarchies and experts have a symbiotic relationship. Without hierarchies, no authority can tell us who is the expert. Were people able to learn before there were hierarchies and experts? Would workers be able to learn today without learning experts?

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. But without hierarchy we need to engage with knowledge networks because we are no longer told what to think and do. Our greatest knowledge asset today is our network. Individual expertise is gradually being replaced by cooperative expertise. I have said before that individuals need to take control of their learning in a workplace where they are simultaneously connected, mobile, and global: while conversely contractual, part-time, and local. This is becoming an imperative. (more…)

connected curiosity

Some people seem to be naturally curious. Others work at it, while some just lack interest in learning. You can notice this when traveling. Some people can describe many aspects of their local vicinity while others don’t know anything about why certain features exist. They say that the most interesting people are those who are interested in others.

The primary work skills of the previous century, what I call ‘Labour’, can be summed up as: compliance, diligence, and intelligence. These skills were needed for routine work and standardized jobs. But the new skills required to live in a world dominated by networks and non-routine work requires ‘Talent’: curiosity, creativity, and empathy. The core skill is curiosity. Curiosity about ideas can improve creativity. Curiosity about people can improve empathy, through understanding others. We cannot be empathetic for others unless we are first curious about them. We cannot be creative unless we are first curious to learn new ideas. (more…)

friday’s finds #278

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

@Richard_Florida “The greatest innovation hoax is that somehow a fancy building will help produce them …”

@JeffWeiner “Well said. Why sci-fi author William Gibson likes Twitter: I’m able to wake up, open Twitter & glance across the psychic state of the planet” (more…)

a network perspective

The three overlapping circles of the network learning model – social networks, communities of practice, work teams – have been described by Patti Anklam as three network types – connectivity, alignment, productivity. This makes sense, because in social networks we mostly connect, while in communities of practice we strive to find alignment between ideas and practice, and in our work teams we produce something of value. Patti goes on to describe the key tasks for ‘network builders’. (more…)

implementing a triple operating system

A triple operating system aligns work and learning and has a network perspective. It is based on three interrelated processes, first proposed by Valdis Krebs: Awareness, Alternatives, Action. My perspective is that people in organizations cannot take appropriate action unless they have systems in place to consider alternatives, and are aware of the complex environments in which they operate. While my network learning model [previous post] looks at knowledge flow from the individual’s point of view, the triple operating system is an organizational perspective. (more…)

implementing network learning

In the network era, developing the skills of a master artisan in every field of work will be critical for success. While getting work done collaboratively will continue to be of importance in all organizations, it will not be enough. New ideas will have to come from our professional networks in order to keep pace with innovation and change in our fields. More importantly, a safe place is needed to connect these new ideas to the work to be done. Communities of practice will continue to grow as knowledge artisans need to integrate their work and learning in a trusted space. As the gig economy dominates, communities of practice can bring some stability to our professional development. These are owned by the practitioners themselves, not an association and not an organization. You know you are in a real community of practice when it changes your practice. (more…)

governance, reflection, practice

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

“What’s the point of innovation if you’re not building a better society?”Nils Pihl

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” – Sam Adams, via @JimHays

“Democracy is a market based decision making system. We need a network based decision making system now.”@JohnRobb

Note: Perhaps it’s ‘monitory democracy’: (more…)

sense-making tools

johnny-automatic-tool-box-800pxDaniel Dennett’s Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking begins by presenting a number of tested approaches to sense-making. Here are a few that I would consider practical tools for personal knowledge mastery. He starts by discussing the value of trying to make mistakes.

“I am amazed at how many really smart people don’t understand that you can make big mistakes in public and emerge none the worse for it. I know distinguished researchers who will go to preposterous lengths to avoid having to acknowledge that they were wrong about something … Actually, people love it when somebody admits to making a mistake … Of course, in general, people do enjoy correcting the stupid mistakes of others. You have to have something worth correcting, something original to be right or wrong about … if you are one of the big risk-takers, people will get a kick out of correcting your occasional stupid mistakes, which shows you’re a regular bungler like the rest of us. I know extremely careful philosophers who have – apparently – never made a mistake in their work. Their specialty is pointing out the mistakes of others … but nobody excuses their mistakes with a friendly chuckle. It is fair to say, unfortunately, that their best work often gets overshadowed and neglected …”

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holistic technology

I first came across the work of Ursula Franklin through her CBC Massey Lecture series on The Real World of Technology.

Dr. Franklin died last week and I found this line from her obituary illuminating.

“[Ursula Franklin] distinguished between the holistic technology of creative artisans and the prescriptive technologies of large corporations and bureaucracies that discouraged critical thinking and created a culture of compliance.” – The Globe & Mail

In the book based on the lecture series, Franklin elaborated: “When work is organized as a sequence of separately executable steps, the control over the work moves to the organizer, the boss or manager. In political terms, prescriptive technologies are designs for compliance.” (more…)

we are the media

As we shift from a market-dominated to a network-dominated society, we do not lose our previous tribal, institutional, and market organizational forms. However, their relationships between each other changes. For example, print-based media now operate at electric speed increasing the urge to feel immediate outrage for events not directly connected to us. Short-form social media writing platforms like Twitter push the printed word to its limit and in so doing, reverse it to a new form of orality. A tweet is ephemeral and soon forgotten, like a quick spoken comment.

Social media can extend the emotion of our words, while obsolescing the linearity of long-form writing. They can retrieve the immediacy of oral communication, with the caution that this can quickly reverse into constant outrage. This is a danger when our existing institutions have lost much of their authority with the public.

“When the prevailing mood is anti-elite and anti-authority, trust in big institutions, including the media, begins to crumble.” – Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief Guardian News & Media

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