working and living

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

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”  — Upton Sinclair – via @jerrymichalski

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” – Mexican proverb – via @LalitBhojwani

“What we want most as free & independent human beings is agency.”@dsearls – via @katrynadow (more…)

the trinity model

Following up on my last post, the network era trinity, I have put together two images to synthesize the multiple concepts behind them. These images are my attempt to create a simple model that explains how networked organizations need to operate differently.

  • Individuals must be supported in interacting with diverse social networks, as part of their work, to enhance the possibility of serendipitous connections. This is the practice of PKM.
  • Communities of practice must be supported as safe places to test out new ideas. This is where HR and L&D departments can play a significant role.
  • Working on complex or creative projects is the realm of human activity in the network era. These teams are effective as temporary negotiated hierarchies that can be reformed as the situation changes.
  • Every worker is involved in all three of these spaces continuously, therefore working and learning are not separate activities.
  • Knowledge flows from implicit personal knowledge and is socialized while learning with communities or working in groups. The organization can curate knowledge from the flows of discussions among its workers and codify it in systems of record.


the network era trinity

Governance, business, and learning models are moving from centralized control to network-centric foundations. For instance, coalition governments are increasing in frequency, businesses are organizing in value networks, and collaborative and connected learning is becoming widespread. In these cases, collaboration (working for a common objective) and cooperation (sharing freely without direct reciprocity) flow both ways.

There are advocates for a dual operating system to deal with the complexity of the networked era: one that is hierarchical and another that is networked. This makes more sense than an elaborate 8-step model but the duality misses an important connection between structured work and cooperative networks. That space is the community of practice, which is neither project team nor professional network. Networks provide new ideas and perspectives from their diverse weak social ties. Work teams often have to share complex knowledge, and this requires strong social ties. Communities of practice are the bridge between these two, where we can test new ideas in a trusted space. This trinity is not three separate operating systems. It is one, that without the others is ineffective. (more…)

you are only as good as your network

I’ve worked as an organizational learning & performance consultant since 1998. Every year I get new challenges but usually I have something in my toolbox that fits the requirement. Then one day in 2012 I was asked to solve a problem for a client that I did not have a clue how to even begin looking at. This involved complex knowledge about information technology, organizational behaviour, knowledge management, and social media. The client required a model to determine how their suite of IT platforms aligned with a newly developed learning & performance model that was being implemented across the enterprise. In short, they asked me “simplify the complexity”.

I was a bit nervous, not knowing where to begin. But I put my faith in my knowledge networks and communities of practice where I had been involved for the past 14 years. I went out to my networks, looking for as wide and diverse opinions as possible. I also checked my collections of social bookmarks and blog posts to see if I had come across anything useful in the past few years. As I found a few models and ideas, I tested them out with some trusted colleagues, including the client team who were keen on solving the problem. Over several weeks, many conversations, and a lot of searching and probing, I developed a working model that the client accepted. It was only through working out loud, learning out loud, and engaging the networks and communities that I had already developed, that I was able to accomplish the objective. In the end, I realized I was only as good as my network. This is the new world of work today. It requires us to not solely focus on our jobs doing regular work and projects. The network era rewards people who can bring their communities of practice and professional networks to bear on complex problems. Nobody’s individual toolbox is big enough. (more…)

co-creating knowledge

The are many ways we can add value to information and knowledge. I have described 14 ways of sense-making as part of personal knowledge mastery. One of these is the use of infographics, such as one on PKM published here. Recently, Tanmay Vora created a visual description of learning and leadership, based on an article by Kenneth Mikkelsen and me.

“One of the crucial leadership skills for today and future is ability to learn constantly from various high quality sources, synthesizing information and collaborating with a community to get a better grasp of the constantly changing reality.” – Leadership, Learning & PKM


a new economy

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

“It is not for me to change you. The question is, how can I be of service to you without diminishing your degree of freedom?” – Buckminster Fuller, via @decasteve

“Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” – Peter Drucker, via @africadean (more…)

leadership archetypes

Ubiquitous digital networks are extending our capacity to listen and speak with others. In a hyperlinked world, we can tap multiple global perspectives and easily push our own views through various free and inexpensive media options. This is making many traditional centres of expertise, like news sites, obsolete. At the same time, access to important contextual knowledge is limited to the few, such as attendees at the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos. With all of this access to information and knowledge, we are seeing a retrieval of storytelling. The TED talks are one example of finely crafted stories, though their impact and the agenda of sponsors may over time reverse into a single or even false narrative, controlled by a few powerful interests. This is how McLuhan’s laws of media can be useful in seeing what kinds of changes digital networks will bring about in how we communicate as a society in the network era. Every new technology enhances some aspect of humanity, obsolesces some previous technology, retrieves something from our past, and can reverse into the opposite of its initial intention. (more…)