Sensemaking and the power of the humanities

What is Sensemaking?

Christian Madsbjerg, in Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm, describes sensemaking as an interaction with fellow humans in the real world.

“Sensemaking is practical wisdom grounded in the humanities. We can think of sense making as as the exact opposite of algorithmic thinking: it is entirely situated in the concrete, while algorithmic thinking exists in a no-man’s land of information stripped of its specificity. Algorithmic thinking can go wide — processing trillions of terabytes of data per second — but only sense making can go deep.” —Christian Madsbjerg, Sensemaking, p. 6

Why Sensemaking?

“Too many of the top cadre of leadership I have met are isolated in their worldview. They have lost touch with the humanity of their customers and their constituents and, as a result, they mistake numerical representations and models for real life. Their days are sliced and diced into tiny segments, so they feel they don’t have time to wander around in the mess of real-world data. Instead, they jump into a problem-solving process and a conclusion without understanding the actual question.” —Christian Madsbjerg, Sensemaking, p. xiv


friday’s urban finds

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

“Cars are like pharmaceuticals. There’s a legitimate place for them, but we resort to them too much.” —Peter D. Norton, via @grescoe

“And then you automate it, and it makes that same mistake hundreds of millions of times.”@eskokilpi (more…)

blogging break

No, I have not stopped blogging, though my lack of recent posts may have given that impression. I have decided to take a bit of a Summer break, continue my reading and observations on social media, and take time for cycling. I recently completed a 4-day trip to Cape Breton, enjoying the slow pace of life and the time to watch the world go slowly by. (more…)

lies & damn lies

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

@white_owly : “Lies, damn lies and people who purport to understand blockchain.”

@zeynep : “Silicon Valley still mostly run like they are legos for grownups; once something cool is assembled, the real business, people, are ignored.”

@alaindebotton : “Academia: an invention of genius to keep the brightest, most enquiring minds from tampering with the status quo. Paddocks for intellectuals.”

“Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.” —Bertrand Russell, via BrainPickings

the complexity of capitalism

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

@alaindebotton: “Academia: an invention of genius to keep the brightest, most enquiring minds from tampering with the status quo. Paddocks for intellectuals.”

Is Teal the new Black? Probably Not

“I suspect that the clean, uncomplicated notions put forward in the book [Organizing for Complexity, by Frédéric Laloux] will be undone by context, the actual details of implementation and to a large extent power-dynamics (for example, autocratic ‘Teal’ leaders making ‘non-Teal’ people do things they don’t want to do). In other words, I’m not sure I actually believe Teal even exists. I’m not sure I believe any of the ‘stages of development’ actually exist.

I believe the colour schema is an instrument, a not very accurate map. And like all instruments it appeals to a certain instrumental logic, one that craves a simpler world and shies away from complexity. In my opinion, this cognitive style mostly serves to distract from the important questions of who we are and what type of organizations we want to be creating.”


future of work influencers

I don’t put much stock in lists and ‘best of …’ rankings as they rarely tell you the methodology behind the system. When Antonio Santo (@akwyz) shared a list of the top 50 influencers on ‘the future of work’, I asked about the methodology. Vishal Mishra (@vmishRRa), CEO of Right Relevance,  kindly obliged.

“The Right Relevance score of an influencer for a TOPIC represents the authority within the social community for that topic, say for e.g. ‘machine learning’, of that influencer. It is a normalized score ranging from 10 to 100. This numeric influence is then inductively applied to the topical content curated by that individual for measuring relevance.

The process is fully algorithmic and leverages ML, semantic analysis and NLP on unstructured data at scale. It is primarily graph based and involves performing a 2-level proprietary people rank”
Influencers Topic Scores & Rankings

I use Twitter as a medium to teach people how to find experts and how to build a knowledge network. This is a core part of my PKM Workshop. Understanding the algorithms behind search results and rankings is an important network era literacy, and I am glad that Right Relevance (RR) shares some of this. (more…)

oz-friendly beta conversation 2017-08-01

I will be hosting the next Beta Conversation on Tuesday, August 1st at 10:00 UCT. This time is to accommodate all those Australians suffering through their Winter, while we enjoy the fruits of Summer in the northern hemisphere 😉

The subject will be Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and leadership. The Harvard Business Review article, The Best Leaders are Constant Learners, gives a general idea of the themes to be discussed. Participants can add their own questions in advance. (more…)

more than mere digital transformation

Is the automation of what has traditionally been human work inevitable?

I know what you’re thinking – there’s some things that robots can do well, but there’s a lot of things that they can’t, and it will be a long, long time before they can match or outperform humans in these tasks. Construction, food preparation, agriculture, mining, manufacturing… while many of these jobs can be automated, my job absolutely cannot be taken by a robot. I’m safe.

Sorry, but that argument is deeply flawed. Thanks to accounting conventions and tax laws dating back centuries, a robot doesn’t need to be better – or more efficient – than a human being at a task to make a business more profitable. It just needs to be 34% as good, or 11% as good, depending on that business’s accounting and amortization policies. —Hatcher Blog

It seems that our bookkeeping systems, developed hundreds of years ago, are the main culprit in edging out human labour in favour of technological capital. John Sharp, Partner at Hatcher, thinks part of the solution is a guaranteed universal income. I agree that this is part of it, but we also need to radically change our education and training systems. This cannot come soon enough, as 43% of senior executives see the “robotic automation of processes” as a high priority over the next two years. As difficult as it has been to earn a decent wage, in spite of rising productivity for the past several decades, it seems it will get even tougher. (more…)

filter failure is not acceptable

Fake news. PR hype. Content marketing. Advertorials. Click bait. Propaganda. Doublespeak. Newspeak. Yellow journalism. Shock jocks. Post-truth. Spam. Phishing.

Digital information comes from all directions, and much of it from dubious sources or with the intent to misinform. Today, it is just too easy to create, replicate, and share digital information. As a result, we are enveloped in it. This is why ad blockers on browsers have become so popular. It’s why everyone needs spam filters for their email. Filter failure is not acceptable in the digital workplace. But neither is living in an information bubble.

The challenge for any organization dependent on knowledge is to ensure that implicit knowledge from those closest to customers and the external world informs the explicit knowledge that is shared throughout the company. Knowledge flow has to continuously become knowledge stock. Individuals practising personal knowledge mastery have to be an intrinsic part of organizational knowledge management. Knowledge comes from and through an organization’s people. It is not some external material distributed through the chain of command. (more…)