empathy opportunities

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

@Tom_Peters: “Average unicorn coder’s goal today: Destroy my privacy to sell me more crap so that founders can add another billion to their net worth … Make no mistake: Google’s animating goal is to destroy my privacy by knowing more about me than I do. The rest is details.”

@dria: “Search results are decreasingly reliable because of SEO polluting top results with junk. I’m going directly to known-good sites more & more.”

Why Theater Majors Are Vital in the Digital Age via @CreatvEmergence

“The aptitude called ‘foresight’, which is the talent to envision many possible outcomes or possibilities, was present in all theater workers (playwrights, directors, designers, actors). When actors try out various line readings or interpretations of a scene, when they improvise or create backstory, they are using foresight … But foresight would be impossible without empathy. The actor’s ability to envision multiple outcomes or motivations in a play must be based on the character’s circumstances, not the actor’s.”


automate work, not people

Standardized work continues to be automated, by software and machines.  The re-wiring of work is essential for every part of our economy. The challenge is to identify what work can be automated and focus people on being more creative, both in dealing with complex problems and in identifying new opportunities. Human creativity is a limitless resource. Too often, it is wasted in our organizational structures.

“The family farm is an example of automation being used to free people to do what they do best. As one farmer said, it’s difficult to hire people who want to milk cows everyday at 4:00 am.

While automation is one of the reasons there’s been so many job losses in manufacturing — taking over repetitive tasks, experts in the field says it’s to time to  re-think the point of jobs themselves.

Despite automation, the Shantz family says cows still need personal attention. And although some farmers are skeptical of robots are taking over jobs, experts in the field say that with technology forging ahead it’s time to re-think the point of jobs themselves.” – The Current, CBC


bring your own network

The day when a single person can work alone, without any help from others, is fast disappearing. Some individuals may still be able to freelance and work alone from time to time but most of us will have to work with others in order to get anything done in a networked society. About five years ago I worked for a large company with my Internet Time Alliance (ITA) colleagues, and this comment was written by our client at the end of the project.

“What the ITA group brought to the table in our engagement, in the person of Harold Jarche, was not only his extensive experience and network, but also the expertise of the rest of the Alliance and their networks as well. While we in our organization have networks of our own, the quality and extensiveness of the ITA network added a value that we would not have been able to tap alone, and led us to a superior solution that will better serve our customers.”Corporate University Manager within Fortune 500 Health Insurance company


rewiring work

“Machines that learn (limited AGI) will obsolete ‘jobs’ FASTER than entrepreneurs can make them and people can retrain to fill them.”John Robb

We need to rewire how we work. The machines are getting much better at the old world of work than we can ever be. Automation is the driver. Offshoring and outsourcing are temporary conditions until all routine labour gets replaced by software and machines.

“Since the processes of automation and offshoring will most likely continue, it is expected that the disappearance of routine jobs in the U.S. will also continue. Understanding the impact of polarization on the labor market is important and remains an active topic of economic research.” – Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis


learning and leadership thoughts

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

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” ― Leonardo da Vinci, via @gfbertini

“Millennials: the landless peasants the founders warned each other would happen.”@girlziplocked

“Blessed are the weird people …  for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”@JacobNorby (more…)

leadership in an age of pervasive networks

Leadership can be examined from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan’s famous media tetrad. Using the tetrad, explained by Derrick de Kerkchove, co-author of McLuhan for Managers — every technology has four effects:

1. extends a human property (the car extends the foot)
2. obsolesces the previous medium by turning it into a sport or a form of art (the automobile turns horses and carriages into sports)
3. retrieves a much older medium that was obsolesced before (the automobile brings back the shining armour of the knight);
4. flips or reverses its properties into the opposite effect when pushed to its limits (automobiles, when there are too many of them, create grid lock) (more…)

sense-making with social media

“Tweeting during a conference helps me consolidate my thoughts and capture key insights. Facebook helps me share resources. LinkedIn is a useful professional tool. However, it is blogging, such as this post, that is by far my strongest form of learning, as it involves a number of things that are all supported by researched learning theory, and which improve memory and recall:

  1. Reflection
  2. Generation
  3. Elaboration
  4. Retrieval
  5. Interleaved and varied practice
  6. Spaced practice
  7. Imagery
  8. Archiving”

Donald Clark

What do you do to make sense of your learning? As Donald notes, sharing and posting on social media are weaker forms of learning than longer form blogging can be. However, low utility activities like retrieval and archiving can provide the fodder for higher utility sense-making skills such as generation and elaboration. Mastery comes through varied and spaced practice, supported by reflection. Using social media for learning requires an understanding of how each tool or platform can support your own sense-making. (more…)

social learning for complex work

“Carnegie Mellon’s Robert E. Kelley … says the percentage of the knowledge you need to memorize to do your job is shrinking rapidly:

  • 1986: 75%
  • 1997: 15-20%
  • 2006: 8-10% estimated

Knowing how to get the answers you need is more important than storing those answers in your head, especially with the shorter lifespan of knowledge these days. What you find when you look something up is probably current. What you already know is more and more likely to be out of date.

A vital meta-learning skill: how to find the answer you need, online or off.”

Jay Cross (2006)

Where are we in 2016? How do we find the knowledge we need? Is it in our organizational filing systems and intranets, or rather on the Web or in our professional social networks? It’s a question of complexity. (more…)

a half-baked idea

“I’m thinking of doing some coaching in a few years and helping people make decisions around food and nutrition”, I was told the other day by a young man working in a shop. My advice was to start a blog: now. While he had no intention of freelancing for the near term, he needed to get his thoughts in order. A blog is a good place to do this over time. You can start slow. The process builds over time. My early blog posts were pretty bad but they helped me see what ideas I could revisit and build upon. And it took time. (more…)

the future of human work

People can never be better at computing than computers. We cannot become more efficient than machines. All we can do is be more curious, more creative, more empathetic. The fact that automation is taking away jobs once designed for people means that it is time we focus on what is really important: our humanity. Service delivery will gradually improve as machines take it over. Accidents will diminish with self-driving cars. Errors will be reduced with robotic surgeries. Many human jobs will fade away.

Just as few people do work that requires pure physical labour today, soon few of us will do routine, procedural, standardized knowledge work. As DeepMind beat the world Go champion in their first three games this week, we should take a serious look at what this means for the long term. Machines that can teach themselves may be better teachers for humans as well. (more…)