making your education

When I first encountered the web I was certain it would change the world. Today there is little doubt that networked society is developing into a very different world than the pre-internet days. My personal knowledge mastery (PKM) framework developed out of a need to master the exponentially growing information flows and personal connections enabled by digital networks. I developed my own ways to Seek > Sense > Share information, knowledge, and experiences. This framework is now used by many other people around the globe. I created my PKM methods out of necessity 14 years ago. Today, sensemaking frameworks are needed by everyone. As Steven B. Johnson says, “Chance favours the connected mind”. This has never been more true in our connected world.

The writers of Age of Discovery say that we are living in a period similar to the Renaissance of the early 1500’s. “I am still learning,” Michelangelo said in his eighties. He and Leonardo da Vinci epitomized the Renaissance, pushing against traditional boundaries and expanding knowledge and understanding. The Renaissance brought wonderful new discoveries (universities, astronomy, print) as well as new challenges (the pox, war, mass slavery). Our age is bringing similar discoveries (nano materials, gene therapy, artificial intelligence) and new threats (Ebola, extremism, climate change). (more…)

agile sensemaking

“Complex environments represent a continuous challenge for sensemaking in organizations. Continuous ambiguity exerts continuous pressures on organizations to modify their patterns of interaction, information flow and decision making. Organizations struggle to address situations that are precarious, explanations that are equivocal and paradoxical, and cognitive dilemmas of all kinds. This creates a demand for innovative approaches in sensemaking. Since agility is what is required in navigating complexity, we can call these new approaches ‘agile sensemaking.'” —Bonnita Roy

Working in complex environments requires constant sensemaking, connecting outside the organization with the work being done inside. Increasing awareness of new ideas, methods, and processes often comes through serendipitous encounters outside the workflow. Radical innovation can appear here. Radical innovation only comes from diverse networks with large structural holes, according to Steve Borgatti. This is why our social networks cannot also be our work teams, or they become echo chambers. In our work teams we can focus on incremental innovation, to get better at what we already do. This is collaboration. Communities of practice then become a bridge on this network continuum. (more…)

connected coaching

“Teaching and coaching are fundamentally about helping making other people better. Learning to do this can’t be done via shortcuts. It requires a willingness to be patient, to take your time and have a deep desire to develop your craft.” —@IamSporticus

My work over the past several decades has confirmed that the best leaders are constant learners. The essence of leadership or management in organizations today is helping make your networks smarter, more resilient, and able to make better decisions. Those in leadership positions need to be good learners. (more…)

the new luddites

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

@Rhappe“So much data. So little insight.”

@deewhock“An intelligent, motivated person in a bureaucracy is like a long haired hunting dog in a patch of cockle burrs. Energy and capacity are diverted from the hunt to removal of the impediments.”

@lukewsavage“Billionaires like Bezos and Musk are obsessed with space travel because it helps them maintain the illusion that they’re technological prometheans at the vanguard of civilizational progress, rather than greedy plutocrats who happen to own expensive bits of paper.”

@jatodaro — “So you’ve got a huge campus where employees can roam around and find a comfortable space to work. No one can locate you and everyone uses Slack to communicate, Zoom to talk, and Dropbox to share files. You’re already working remotely, you’re just driving to an office to do it.” (more…)

chaos and order

chaordic [kay-ordʹ-ic], adj., fr. E. chaos and order. 1. The behavior of any self-organizing, self-governing, organ, organization, or system that harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2. Patterned by chaos and order in a way not dominated by either. 3. Blending of diversity, chaos, complexity and order characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature. —Dee Hock

Our institutions and markets are failing us. We need new structures and the return to tribalism currently manifested as populism will not save us. As the advent of the printing press helped usher in an age of inquiry, first in the Christian religion and later in the enlightenment and scientific revolution, so we have to engage in creating new organizational and governance structures for a global network era. (more…)

self-determination ensures democracy

Self-determination theory (SDT) is based on three innate human requirements: Competence, Relatedness, and Autonomy.

Deci and Ryan [the researchers] claim that there are three essential elements of the theory:

1. Humans are inherently proactive with their potential and mastering their inner forces (such as drives and emotions)
2. Humans have an inherent tendency toward growth development and integrated functioning
3. Optimal development and actions are inherent in humans but they don’t happen automatically

If we change our operating models we can change the world. Models premised on SDT will serve the needs of everyone, not just management or the shareholders.

“Psychological self-determination is expressed in three different dimensions. In the first dimension people want to live their lives the way they choose to live it. This is the sense of sanctuary. The second way people express their psychological self-determination is in the widespread desire for voice: we want to be heard and we want our voices to matter. The third way we want our psychological self-determination to be expressed is in our desire to be connected: we want to be part of communities.” —The Support Economy


the new networked norm

Our societies have grown from a collection of tribes, added institutions, and later developed markets. These aligned with revolutions in communications: from oral, to written, to print. The network era began with the advent of electric communications, though it is by no means completely established.

Each type of societal structure has required different types of leadership. Alexander the Great was probably one of the best tribal leaders. He led his armies from the front and created an enormous empire. After his death, some of his generals created long-lasting institutions not based on military tactics. Ptolemy’s library at Alexandria is one example. Later, institutions like the Catholic Church dominated more through soft institutional power, rather than wielding swords. Others did that for them when necessary. As a market society developed, new types of economic and financial power were exercised by the Fuggers and the Hanseatic League in Europe. Later, captains of industry in America, such as Andrew Carnegie, would dominate in their markets, often circumventing existing institutional power.

As we enter the network era we see companies like Apple dominating, often ignoring Wall Street pundits. With network effects, Google can control the online advertising market, making market competition almost irrelevant. Power shifts as a society’s organizing principles change. In almost all organizations today, positional power is alive and well. For some managers, this is all the power they have, and they are at the mercy of the organizational hierarchy. If they lose their position, they lose their power. More effective leaders influence people through their social leadership abilities. This is what most modern leadership training programs focus on developing. In the network era, effective leaders also have to build their reputational power through connected leadership. (more…)

business schools are a technology of the last century

Our dominant models of how we organize and work as a society are fundamentally changing as we transition from an Information-Market economy to a Creative-Network economy. Charles Green succinctly explained the order in which this transition happens:

“Ideas lead technology. Technology leads organizations. Organizations lead institutions. Then ideology brings up the rear, lagging all the rest—that’s when things really get set in concrete.”

I broke this down in detail in a post on the new business ideology. This was further explained in Adapting to Perpetual Beta, my volume on leadership in the network era. (more…)

social finds

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

@BenRiseman: “W.E.B. Du Bois, in his last speech in 1957 said, ‘Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life. The only possible death is to lose belief in this truth simply because the great end comes slowly, because time is long.’”

@White_Owly: “The fact that many who attended elite schools include it in their profiles decades later says more about social than intellectual capital.” (more…)

out on the edge

Last month in Berlin I gave a keynote at the Landing Festival entitled, It’s your Network, Stupid. I explained that to find new ideas and information, loose social networks are best. Weak social ties enable us to find a wide variety of information and ideas, often relatively quickly using networked technologies. In this way a diverse social network can yield a lot of information. (more…)