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.

Awareness of New Knowledge (social networks)

The primary perspective in social networks should be empathetic. Human networks connect through empathy. From this perspective of trying to understand others, our actions in these networks should be driven by curiosity. We should constantly look for the new and different. In return we contribute to our networks through cooperation, sharing freely, with no expectation of direct compensation. It is from these serendipitous encounters that we are exposed to new knowledge

Alternatives to create Competitive Knowledge (communities of practice)

As we become aware of new knowledge, we need to test it out, but not take ourselves too seriously at this point. Playfulness, cleverness, and exploration constitute essential parts of creativity. But creativity requires an ongoing commitment. We cannot merely take creative time. It has to be part of our working flow. David Williamson Shaffer says that we need to make space for conversations in order to be creative, “Creativity is a conversation – a tension – between individuals working on individual problems and the professional communities they belong to”.

Organizations need to nurture and support communities of practice, to let alternatives be discussed away from the confines of the established hierarchy. Organizations cannot control communities but they need their competitive knowledge to inform organizational actions. Communities of practice are cooperative in nature, as membership is voluntary. Here members can work collaboratively on experiments and side projects that may not fit in with their paid work. Communities filter knowledge from social networks and work teams, fueled by new knowledge and providing competitive knowledge.

Action, leading to Lessons Learned (work teams)

In work teams, a primary perspective is one of sharing. This is where working out loud is essential. As we take action, we need to know what others are doing so we can work in concert. Working out loud is one way of connecting to others. Connecting people and ideas in the context of taking action is how work gets done in the network era. This is informed collaboration, between self-governing individuals who have agreed upon temporary hierarchies in order to get work done. The principle of wirearchy succinctly describes this as, “a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology.”


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