learning for the next industrial revolution

Jesse Martin has posted a good article on Learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the era many say we are entering. It appears to be an era driven by “cyber-physical systems” . So what will the new learning systems look like in this era?

“I see a learning system that will arise based on the technologies that are forming the basis for the fourth industrial revolution. I believe that learning will play a central role throughout our lives, and the basic foundation will focus almost entirely on the general higher order thinking skills. The skills that teach us how to think, be creative, keep an open mind about what is going on around us, and provide us with the self awareness to know what we need to know and do to succeed.”


work & place

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

“The better the state is established, the fainter is humanity.” —Nietzsche, Notes, 1874, via @surreallyno

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” —W.B. Yeats, via @FishinWaterProd

“When he laughed, respected senators burst with laughter, And when he cried the little children died in the streets.” —W.H. Auden, Epitaph on a Tyrant (more…)

tech career advice

Here are some questions I was asked by the organizers of the Landing Festival in Lisbon, where I will be speaking on 28/29 June 2018.

How do you keep up-to-date with all the changes in the tech market?

I use my professional network to help filter information for me. For example, Valdis Krebs is an expert on social network analysis. Thomas Vander Wal has deep knowledge on enterprise network technologies. Jane McConnell understands the digital workplace in large multinational companies. All three of these people are fellow members of one of my online communities of practice. By engaging in these communities, and developing a diverse network of perspectives on Twitter and LinkedIn, I am able to stay abreast of the tech market, without being an expert myself. I practice personal knowledge mastery — a sensemaking framework for the network era — that I also teach to others. (more…)

top tools 2018

Once again, Jane Hart is asking what are your top tools for learning? You can fill out the survey, write a blog post, or email Jane your list. Check out the link and submit your vote before 21 September.

All of my tools are used for personal/professional development as well as workplace learning. Some of these are not exactly what many people would consider ‘learning tools’ but any tool that gives me more time to learn, or enables learning with others, is in my opinion a learning tool. For me, work is learning, and learning is the work. (more…)

Nordic leadership in times of extreme change

Return of the Vikings

I have had the privilege of working with several Nordic organizations over the past few years — Carlsberg, HR Norge, Implement Consulting, Snow Software, Prime Minister’s Office of Finland. Over the past 14 years of writing on this blog I have advocated for more transparent work, temporary & negotiated hierarchies, and willing cooperation between interdependent workers.

The network era is obsolescing many artifacts of the industrial market era — rigid hierarchies, master/servant work relationships — and retrieving aspects of previous eras — tribal affiliations, oral communication. We can learn from the past and the authors of Return of the Vikings: Nordic Leadership in Times of Extreme Change, provide us with a compass to see our way into an unknown future. It is the same compass that guided the Vikings across the North Sea, to Iceland, and then to North America.

Nordic leadership is based on the Nine Noble Virtues — Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-reliance, Industriousness, and Perseverance. There is a chapter dedicated to each virtue including interviews with people who have exhibited or witnessed these in modern times. While the compass remains steady, each person finds their own path, and in so doing contributes to the collective. Nordic leadership is servant leadership. It can be summed up as — inclusive, trusting, and collaborative. (more…)

ask the difficult questions

“Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.” —Garry Kasparov

The future of work will be humans augmented by machines, and those with the best processes will succeed. In How to Become a Centaur, Nicky Case outlines what machines (AI) are good for and what people are best at.

“So, how do you find the best “+” for humans and AI? How do you combine humans’ and AI’s individual strengths, to overcome their individual weaknesses? Well, to do that, we first need to know exactly what humans’ and AI’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Human nature, for better or worse, doesn’t change much from millennia to millennia. If you want to see the strengths that are unique and universal to all humans, don’t look at the world-famous award-winners — look at children. Children, even at a young age, are already proficient at: intuition, analogy, creativity, empathy, social skills. Some may scoff at these for being ‘soft skills’, but the fact that we can make an AI that plays chess but not hold a normal five-minute conversation, is proof that these skills only seem ‘soft’ to us because evolution’s already put in the 3.5 billion years of hard work for us”.

Basically, “AIs are best at choosing answers. Humans are best at choosing questions.”

If you are looking at how best to change our training and education systems to prepare for an augmented future, then ‘asking better questions’ should be at the top of the list. Those soft (permanent) skills are our secret sauce when it comes to working with ever smarter machine intelligence. (more…)

network management protocols

My principle of network management is an update of the principle of scientific management put forth by F.W. Taylor in 1911.

“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.” —F.W.Taylor

Based on this format, I have proposed the following principle for work in a post-industrial network society.

It is only through innovative and contextual methods, the self-selection of the most appropriate tools and work conditions and willing cooperation that more productive work can be assured. The duty of being transparent in our work and sharing our knowledge rests with all workers. (more…)


An understanding of the research on how and why groups of people change can lead to better ways of organizing as a society or an organization. For instance, small groups of committed individuals who want to influence society need a significant presence to make that change happen: twenty-five percent.

“When a minority group pushing change was below 25% of the total group, its efforts failed. But when the committed minority reached 25%, there was an abrupt change in the group dynamic, and very quickly the majority of the population adopted the new norm … “And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.” —Science Daily 2018

However, if the people have an unshakeable belief, such as religious zealots or fervent believers, then you need fewer committed people: ten percent. (more…)

artificially intelligent

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

@Tom_Peters: “Networks increase your ability to get things, especially complex things, done. Period. And if well developed, they do make you more powerful. Period. Like anything else on earth, they can be used for good or for ill.”

Enabling adaptive space, by @sonjabl

“Pressure and crisis tend to open up adaptive space naturally – I often hear stories of how cross-silo collaboration happens spontaneously when a crisis occurs. The problem is our natural tendency to impose order when under pressure. Organisations that have healthy adaptive processes respond from a complex paradigm and enable adaptive space where the tension between exploration and exploitation is productive even in the midst of external and internal pressures.”

Will AI replace KM?

“Also AI and Big Data still only work in the realm of documents, information and data, and in the processes of analysing and retrieving; they don’t help with the transfer and creation of knowledge through conversation, or with tacit knowledge. So AI will be a massively powerful tool in the KM toolbox, but it won’t replace the toolbox. We will need the roles and the processes and the governance to interplay with the technology. KM shifts up a gear, but still will be needed.”


fifteen years

Today marks fifteen years of self-employment. After two years I had noted that my business was good enough for some cheeses but still too young for most wines. Today I’m a very old chunk of cheese but a much better wine, I hope.

By the four-year mark I had experienced clients not paying me and one going bankrupt before paying me. I had many slow periods which I attributed to my location and the lack of face to face meetings. I would say this is still the case. On marking my fifth anniversary I noted that I now had a great international community of bloggers, from whom I keep learning, though the comments on our blog posts are much less frequent today.

At the seven-year point I took a full-time job but kept the business open, with some blogging and a web conference or two. I also gave some freelancing advice. That job lasted six months and then it was back to the financial roller coaster of ups & downs which continues to this day. Once I hit 10 years, in 2013, I decided to write a compilation of my thoughts here. Seeking Perpetual Beta was the first of the perpetual beta series which now counts five volumes. I followed this with a quick summary of 10 thoughts in 10 years.

On my 13th anniversary I reiterated my commitment to democratic workplaces in democratic societies. I wrote that interconnected and engaged citizens are our hope for a better future. We need to learn how to navigate the emerging network era. People have to take control of their learning: being connected, mobile, and global while conversely contractual, part-time, and local. (more…)