a conversation on leadership in the network era

I write about leadership frequently, especially how leadership in a network requires different skills and abilities than positional leadership provided by the inherent power structure of an organization or institution. In networks, influence comes through reputation. In this online presentation/discussion, we will discuss how perspectives, and demands, on leadership are changing in a networked society.

In networks, we have to move away from traditional metaphors of the ‘great man’ military theories of leadership and look for more fluid models, such as cycling, because — the best leaders are constant learners.

“Pelotons are able to operate in the way that they do because learning and experience is embedded within them. Young riders are mentored by seasoned professionals. They learn through imitation, trial and error, developing both instinct and intuition, daring to experiment when the occasion presents itself. The sport is all about life lessons acquired on the road, the knowledge gained from numerous failures as relevant as that acquired through the occasional success. Teamwork provides firm foundations. But autonomy within loose frameworks, decision-making and accountability are all encouraged from early on. It is this crucial combination – individual action contextualised in relation to the collective – that the modern corporation, government agency and charity now need to learn.” —Richard Martin

Discussion Topics

  • Make your network smarter
  • A compass to steer by
  • Diversity
  • Learning & Leadership

Live conversation Wednesday, 14 November at 13:00 UTC*
07:00 CST, 08:00 EST, 13:00 GMT, 14:00 CEST, 15:00 EEST

Format:

  • 90 minute online video conference
    • 60 minute presentation on core topics
    • 30 minute discussion
  • Session will be recorded and available for registered participants
  • Online chat during session

Participants also receive a one-year membership in the Perpetual Beta Coffee Club to continue the conversation. Registration Closed. (more…)

first we kill the jobs

Donald Clark shows how WildFire, a machine-augmented instructional content development system, saved significant time and money to develop a global training program.

“We used an AI tool to deliver a project to a large multinational (TUI) with £16 billion in revenue. The project delivered 138 modules on the locations for its holidays, flights, airport codes and so on. Recognising that they could never have produced content on this scale and timescale, as the estimated costs for external development were just under £500,000, and it had to be delivered in weeks not months, they opted for WildFire. This uses AI to create content in minutes not months, along with supplementary curated content, also selected by AI. —Donald Clark

The future of work will more and more be human creativity augmented by the diligence of machines. New business processes will be developed to take advantage of both people and software. If you are not looking at ways to augment what has traditionally been human work, you and your business will likely be left behind. Businesses have to embrace automation and foster creativity.

“Creativity is a conversation — a tension — between individuals working on individual problems and the professional communities they belong to.” —David Williamson Shaffer

(more…)

not the news

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

@white_owly“If you’re looking for obscene wealth it can usually be found right beside obscene poverty.”

The Most Important Survival Skill for the Next 50 Years Isn’t What You Think — via @titiabruning

“Basically: technological innovation and artificial intelligence are going to accelerate at a pace we’ve yet to really comprehend. (Fifteen years ago, Facebook wasn’t even around. Now it’s so efficient at micro-targeting that it helped sway a democratic election. Imagine what it might be capable of in another fifteen years.) That means automation will likely disrupt your current job (and your next one, and the one after that), and you’ll be the target of attention-grabbing, behavior-modifying algorithms so exponentially effective you won’t even realize you’re being targeted.

The best defense against that? An emotional flexibility that allows for constant reinvention, and knowing yourself well enough that you don’t get drawn into the deep Internet traps set for you.”

(more…)

creative economy entrepreneurs

The co-founders of Creative Startups have published a book that is a guide for anyone interested in the creative economy at any level — Creative Economy Entrepreneurs. This book is a good read but it is more of text book, sprinkled with anecdotes and data, than a single narrative. I would recommend it for anyone working in economic development today. The authors share their 25 years of experience and compile a lot of information in an accessible form.

The premise of this book is that the fourth industrial revolution is changing the nature of work and the economy.

“Now, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, economies are evolving to handle and process our enormous mass of accessible information. With so much information available and so many methods of analysis, access to knowledge is no longer the challenge. Everything is connected, and these connections happen instantly. The challenge for the Fourth Industrial Revolution becomes interpretation, reflection, and innovation. How do we create new value out of our hyperconnected knowledge?”

(more…)

podcasts

I have been encouraged by several people over the years to start podcasting. So far, I prefer blogging as my main public sense-making platform, but I am open to be interviewed or have a discussion on other people’s podcasts. Two podcasts done in the last year were:

  1. Teaching in Higher Ed
  2. Pushing Beyond the Obvious

Tom Palmer recently interviewed me for his Wired Roots podcast.

“In this conversation, Harold and I talk about how his 21-year career in the Canadian military influences his work as a consultant, how Amazon excels in team learning, and how L&D professionals can break through organizational short-sightedness by becoming skilled networked learners and gaining personal knowledge mastery.”

(more…)

understanding the shift

“If you want a natively digital nation, or a state, or a city, or whatever, my message today is you actually need to be bold enough to create some new institutions; institutions that are of the internet, not on the internet.” —Making Government as a Platform Real

None of our institutions, and not even our markets were designed for the network age. This is the major tension of our times. We are between a societal form where markets, and to a lesser degree institutions, are the dominant way of organizing and now we are evolving into a network-centric society. What type of network society will be up to us — centralized or distributed?

As we make this transition, the confusion of post-modernism [background post on societal forms] clouds our vision of a positive future. It seems the traditional Left is focused on the Modern era, while the traditional Right yearns for a time even further back to the Pre-modern era. Few have a coherent vision for an emerging meta-modernity based on the network form. Understanding networks is the first step for governments to become ‘digital nations’. I would say it’s not a digital, but a networked society that should be government’s focus. (more…)

helping make the network smarter

In what is likely the best example of my mantra that ‘work is learning and learning is the work’, Nokia’s CEO Risto Siilasmaa describes how he learned about machine learning because everyone was talking about it but he still did not understand it enough to describe it. Frustrated, he was acting like many of his fellow CEO’s.

“I spent some time complaining. Then I realized that as a long-time CEO and Chairman, I had fallen into the trap of being defined by my role: I had grown accustomed to having things explained to me. Instead of trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of a seemingly complicated technology, I had gotten used to someone else doing the heavy lifting.” —HBR 2018-10-04

The result of what Siilasmaa learned is an excellent example of the integration of learning and work, a necessity in the network era workplace. (more…)

adapting to constant change

Perpetual Beta

The future of [human] work is perpetual beta: adapting to constant change while still getting things done.

“Basically: technological innovation and artificial intelligence are going to accelerate at a pace we’ve yet to really comprehend. (Fifteen years ago, Facebook wasn’t even around. Now it’s so efficient at micro-targeting that it helped sway a democratic election. Imagine what it might be capable of in another fifteen years.) That means automation will likely disrupt your current job (and your next one, and the one after that), and you’ll be the target of attention-grabbing, behavior-modifying algorithms so exponentially effective you won’t even realize you’re being targeted.

The best defense against that? An emotional flexibility that allows for constant reinvention, and knowing yourself well enough that you don’t get drawn into the deep Internet traps set for you.” —GQ Interview with Yuval Noah Harari

(more…)

learning as we work

In an essay on cognitive coaching, Gary Klein recommends six mind shifts that trainers can use to help improve cognitive skills.

  1. From criticism to curiosity
  2. From following procedures to gaining tacit knowledge
  3. From getting through the material to encouraging curiosity
  4. From providing thorough explanations to providing focused explanations
  5. From explaining to discovering
  6. From evaluating to training

In section 2, seeing the invisible, Klein recommends several strategies to improve tacit thinking.

  1. Subtle cues
  2. Hindsight perspective
  3. Anticipating
  4. Shifting focus
  5. Fixation
  6. Hypothesis Testing
  7. Workarounds

Klein’s essay is written as advice for trainers but do we really need trainers or coaches to implement these recommendations? I have shown how the discipline of personal knowledge mastery, AKA agile sensemaking, can help people gain better insights and even help see contradictions by seeking disconfirming data. These are based on Klein’s book, Seeing What Others Don’t. (more…)

post-modernity: a way-station to the future

The TIMN Model describes how people have organized through history — first we lived as Tribes, then Institutions (church & state) dominated, and now Markets reign supreme. Each new form did not obsolesce the previous ones, but did change them. For example, tribes and clans have less influence over global markets than stock exchanges do. But families are still powerful bonding units between people. T+I+M is what David Ronfeldt calls a triform society, which we are currently in. T+I+M+N is when the Network form becomes our main way of organizing society. This will be a quadriform society. We are not there yet but can already see examples of what could be our future with  — networked warfare, networked cryptocurrencies, and networked social movements. (more…)