a breath of fresh air

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

“Yes. It’s really only since wireless networks got fast enough to stream pictures to portable devices that everything changed, & enabled each individual person to live twenty-four/ seven in their own personalized hallucination stream.” ―Neal Stephenson, Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell

We’re in a guerrilla information war and everyone is a participant.

Here are pertinent rules that apply to the current moment —

a) every single physical event, is won or lost online.

b) this is an asymmetric conflict.

c) you can’t participate if you can’t connect.


retrieving the cooperative imperative

The biggest challenges facing us today are climate change and environmental degradation. The current pandemic is a symptom of these situations. These are complex issues without simple answers or explanations, because with complex problems the relationship between cause and effect is only seen after the fact. As H.L Menken stated, “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” Thinking in terms of neat and plausible answers only feeds the post-truth machines.

The best way forward is through cooperation and the engagement of a diverse set of human abilities. Cooperation is freely sharing among equals in order to benefit the greater whole. Hierarchies, such as those found in most institutions and organizations are useless in the face of complexity. As Yaneer Bar-Yam explains in Complexity Rising, hierarchies have diminishing usefulness as complexity increases. (more…)

overcome by events

I wrote the following in 2009 —

Workplace learning in 2019

  • Much of the workforce will be distributed in time & space as well as in engagement (part-time, full-time, contract mix).
  • More learning will be do-it-yourself and gathered from online digital resources available for free and fee. More workers will be used to getting what they need as they change jobs/contracts more frequently but remain connected to their online networks (online/offline won’t matter anymore).
  • Work and learning will continue to blend while stand-up training will be challenged by the ever-present back channel. Successful training programs will involve the learners much more – before, during and after.
  • Conferences, workshops and on-site training will become more niche and fragmented (smaller,  focused & connected online) as travel costs increase and workers become more demanding of their time.
  • The notion of PKM will have permeated much of the workplace
  • These changes will not be evenly distributed.


moving beyond training

Working smarter means that everyone in an organization learns from experience and shares with their colleagues as part of their work. Training is not enough — see the missing half of training. We cannot know in advance and prepare formal instruction for everything that people need to learn on the job today.

The 70:20:10 framework shows that learning at work is based, generally, on these ratios:

  • 70% from Experience
  • 20%: from Exposure
  • 10% from formal Education


an assumption of knowledge

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

“Word of the day is ‘sequaciousness’ (17th century): the blinkered, unreasoning, and slavish following of another, no matter where it leads.”@suzie_dent

“As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” —Albert Einstein

“What we learned in 2020? That oil is worthless in a society without consumption. That healthcare has to be public because health is public. That 50% of jobs can be done from home while the other 50% deserve more than they’re being paid. That we live in a society, not an economy.” @mhdksafa (more…)

our crisis in network leadership

This pandemic has become a crisis in network leadership.

Last June, I wrote — our wake-up call

On 6 June 1944 the First Canadian Army landed at Normandy. It had never been tested in battle as a formation. The complications of drills in England had been replaced by the complexity of war and the chaos of battle. By the end of August, two brigade commanders and five commanding officers had been removed as they were deemed unsuitable.

“[In Normandy] There still remained, however, that proportion of officers who were not fully competent for their appointments, and whose inadequacy appeared in action and sometimes had serious consequences.” —Breakout at Falaise

How many organizational leaders today are in the same situation as those inadequate officers in the Canadian Army — unfit for the post-invasion reality? (more…)

best finds of 2020

Here are some of the best of my fortnightly Friday’s Finds of 2020. Happy New Year 2021!

“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”Maya Angelou

“The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last it and not be smashed by it.” —Ernest Hemingway

“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”20 Lessons on Fighting Tyranny (more…)

carol of the masks

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds and these are the last ones for 2020, a year few of us will forget.

So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in strands afar remote.
Henry IV

“A friendly reminder: Your inability to understand science is not an argument against it.”@Konfytbekkie (more…)

sometimes perfection is the enemy of the good

While many of our professions and organizations can deal with some complexity, few are adapted to deal with chaos on a large scale. Chaos — violent political action, climate change, pandemic — require structures that promote curiosity and resolve. With frequent chaotic events to deal with we have to organize in temporary, negotiated hierarchies that can quickly form and re-form in order to test novel practices. The ability to do this requires diverse thinking, open structures, and trust among those doing the work. So I concluded in our wake-up call in June.

Six months later and what have most Western democracies learned? Not much. In the USA, EU, and Canada, half-measures continuously get added to already complicated and difficult-to-understand protocols. Instead of stopping the ship-of-state and taking it into dry-dock for a refitting to deal with a viral sea, we are haphazardly patching the vessel and missing what is below the water line. (more…)

let’s stop the war of words

A November 2019 article in the British Medical Journal showed how difficult it is to change peoples’ minds, especially with regards to vaccinations. Facts don’t change peoples’ minds.

Lesson 2: don’t bring a fact to a narrative fight

Experts and health professionals can arm themselves with white papers, peer reviewed studies, and symposia; but if these are our only weapons, we will only ever get so far. In an era in which experts are increasingly distrusted, the “we know best” mindset is counterproductive.

Those wishing to encourage vaccination need to identify and amplify the stories that emerge from the real lives and lived experiences of people in their communities (to start, they need to listen for them). It is no coincidence that the most effective climate advocacy in the world right now comes from the improvisations and stories of a 16 year old girl rather than the strategic plans of a generations old institution. —BMJ: New Power versus Old

For example, a mandatory education class in Ontario, Canada — complete with videos and health care professionals to advise — has been useless in getting parents to accept vaccinations for their children. (more…)