autonomous workers in learning organizations

The Learning Organization

The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, is one of the seminal management books of the previous 75 years. It is based on four interrelated disciplines unified by the fifth discipline: systems thinking.

Personal Mastery

Mastery comes through deliberate practice. Personal knowledge mastery is the ability to see patterns hidden to the undisciplined eye. It is the sharing and explaining of implicit knowledge in order to push the boundaries of understanding. PKM is very much based on informal learning through communities of practice and professional social networks.

Mental Models

A model is not a map but a compass that can help guide organizations. It takes time to understand these models and use them to inform our work. But they are necessary for complex work and essential as the organization gets larger. (more…)

human capital

“No, people are NOT capital. YOUR ‘human capital’ is what you’ve learned and not forgotten. It’s ‘capital’ each person ‘owns’ themselves; FAR more equally distributed than financial capital. Our economy needs institutions to make learning and earning better for those with less money.” —Byron Auguste

In firms that are ‘human capital-intensive’, “Should employees be shareholders?”

With context-specific human capital, the productivity of a particular individual depends not just on being part of a firm, but on being part of a particular group of people engaged in a particular task.

More importantly, once acquired, knowledge and skills that are specialized are assets that are at risk following the very same logic as that by which financial assets are at risk.

Is human capital then conceptually the same as financial capital and should investors in firm specific human capital also be seen as principals? Should employees be shareholders? Should capitalism accordingly create a much larger number of capitalists? —Esko Kilpi

Our human capital is a combination of our skills & knowledge, reputation, and social capital. This social capital is based on expertise and my relationships. Workers — human capital — are multi-faceted complex social beings who create the real value for creative and knowledge-based organizations. The greatest enemies of human organizations are our accounting methods, as I noted in automation + capitalism = a perfect storm. Our bookkeeping practices and capitalist systems are the main culprits in edging out human labour in favour of technological and financial capital.

The foundation for organizational knowledge is the human capital of each and every worker (expertise & relationships). This is increased as people work together (decisions & processes). What the organization sees and accounts for (events & outputs) is only the tip of the iceberg. (more…)

knowledge filters revisited

The concept of filtering sources of knowledge has informed the personal knowledge mastery framework for many years, as explained here in knowledge filters (2011). Recently, a “CBC News investigation found that a YouTube channel devoted to putting misleading headlines on TV stories from other stations is getting recommended more often than many mainstream news outlets.” Given the current general election in Ontario, this could be a concern for our democratic processes. But the real culprit is that our society — especially elected officials, educators, and businesses — has done little to promote real media literacy. We need better information, knowledge, and opinion filters, and nobody will give them to us. We have to create them ourselves.

Let’s review the five types of filters that Tim Kastelle so kindly shared in 2010. (more…)

capitalist algorithms

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

“The Edge … There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” —Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels, 1966, via @moehlert

@deehock: “Unrecorded thoughts are fragmentary, illusive and evanescent. When recorded they take on permanency, enabling us to give them context, discover error, improve content and refine expression.”

“The law of progress holds that everything now must be better than what was there before. Don’t you see if you want something better, and better, and better, you lose the good. The good is no longer even being measured.” —Hannah Arendt, via @cyetain

@white_owly: “I once completed a psych test for a job I didn’t want (long story). So I self-sabotaged and answered ‘yes’ to ‘are you happier when people fail than when they succeed?’ and ‘no’ to ‘do you consider yourself a team player?’. I then got invited to the final interview.”

“Susan Sontag was asked what she had learned from the Holocaust, and she said that 10% of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10% is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80% could be moved in either direction” —Kurt Vonnegut, via @holdengraber (more…)

no more email subscriptions

There are several ways to subscribe to this blog and I have just removed two: Feedburner (Google), and Webfish.

This will be the last post you receive via email as I am cancelling subscriptions and deleting all subscribers in the next 24 hours.

Update: There is now an email subscription service in the navigation bar. No data is shared with third parties.

Why am I doing this?

1. I do not agree with Google’s business model and how they are a key part of a global surveillance system. In the past year I have deleted Google Analytics from this site and I have moved my email from Gmail to Fastmail.

2. I do not want to share my subscriber list with third parties who may also share this data.

3. Webfish is no longer online, so I do not know what is happening with the data.

4. I know there are better ways to subscribe to blog posts. (more…)

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…)