The perpetual beta working model is just that: a working model about working. I have developed several models that inform my professional practice, such as the network learning model that shows how work and learning have to be connected. The triple operating system describes how organizations can connect three types of networks. All of these models are founded on individuals taking control of their learning and professional development while actively engaging in social networks and communities of practice. This is the personal knowledge mastery (PKM) framework and the Seek > Sense > Share model.
In a recent conversation I was asked if there was single model that could explain all of these in a simple way to provide not a map, but a compass, to direct organizational change for the network era. The perpetual beta working model is the result of that conversation. It is based on the principle of strong networks, consisting of three overlapping types: Connectivity, Alignment, and Productivity.
Each network type must be strengthened to ensure knowledge flow and learning. Connectivity networks can be strengthened by weaving relationships to remove bottlenecks and gatekeepers and build a diverse knowledge-sharing network. Alignment networks can be reinforced by facilitating conversations and connections between practitioners in professional communities. Productivity networks can develop the skills necessary to support the other network types. For example, an organization can devote resources to train community facilitators and network weavers so that these larger networks become resilient sources of innovation, inspiration, and knowledge.
Another principle is temporary, negotiated hierarchies. This already occurs between contractors and freelancers as they take on new projects. When collaboration is required, then constraints are necessary to get work done. This takes the work to the complicated level, with objectives, tasks, and responsibilities. Meanwhile, outside the work teams, members are still engaging with complex systems and cooperating as they share knowledge. This is the dance all network era workers will need to master. It is a key aspect of PKM.
The perpetual beta working model can guide an organization transitioning to the network economy. It provides a metaphor and a conversation accelerator to ask better questions.
- How can we increase awareness of what is happening outside the organization?
- How can we test alternatives to learn new practices?
- How can we take action based on new knowledge?
- What are the barriers between the three network types?
- How can we optimize each network type for our context?
- What skills are necessary to ensure knowledge flow between network types?