the hustle economy – review

More of us are working in a gig economy, where creativity is valued but job stability is rare. In The Hustle Economy, 25 creative people provide advice on how to survive and succeed. They come from various walks of life, though it is definitely a US-centric perspective. I did not agree with all the writers, but there is definitely something to learn for anyone. Overall, the essays get you to think and add perspectives you may not have considered. I would recommend this book for anyone considering going out on their own as a writer, artist, creator, or entrepreneur. The sub-title is “transforming your creativity into a career”, which aptly describes the book.

For me, the best part of the book are Jessica Hagy’s illustrations, based on her well known index card style from ThisIsIndexed. I would suggest that Jessica take some of her drawings from this book and create a business card series for all those hustlers of the new economy, as Hugh MacLeod has done at with inspiration by gapingvoid. (more…)

“modelling is the best way to teach”

When we teach through modelling behaviour, the learner is in control, whereas teaching by shaping behaviour means the teacher is in control. In Western society, shaping has been the dominant mode for a very long time. But in other societies, it has not been the norm. For instance, Dr. Clare Brant was the first Aboriginal psychiatrist in Canada and a professor of Psychiatry at University of Western Ontario. In 1982 he presented Mi’kmaq Ethics & Principles, which included an examination of the differences in teaching between native and non-native cultures.

Now the Teaching; Shaping Vs. Modelling

‘This is a more technical kind of thing. The white people use this method of teaching their children – it’s called ‘shaping’. Whereas the Indians use ‘modelling’. Shaping is B.F. Skinner’s ‘Operant Conditioning’, if you want to look into that one. Say a white person is teaching a white kid how to dress – he uses the shaping method, one way being “rewarding successive approximations” of the behaviour he wants. Some are really complicated; for instance, if a white woman wants to teach her kid how to dress, she puts his sock on halfway and encourages him to pull it up, finishes dressing him and says he’s a good boy having done that much. The next day he learns to pull the whole sock on, then the other sock. Now that process takes about six weeks. But the white mother who does not have all that much to do can take that time to do that sort of thing every morning to teach her kid how to dress. So in this group that we ran, with these young Native people in London, we started to sniff this out, and there is nothing random about this, as a matter of fact. I asked Mary, a Native person, how she taught her kid to dress and she said, “I didn’t, he just did it.” And I said, “Well, what do you mean?” It came to me that she did it until he was four or five years old, and then one day when the kid felt competent, he took over and did it himself. He did it then ever after, unless he was sick or regressed in some way.’


friday’s finds #270

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

@kurt_vonnegut: “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of reward or punishment after I’m dead.”

“He who would travel happily must travel light.” – Antoine de St. Exupery – via @WorldBikeGirl

@umairh: The Infantilization Economy – via @osakasaul

“Infantilization Apps are probably going to make us less capable of changing the world for the better … The planet’s melting down, the economy’s stuck, the young are toast. And the Infantilization Economy is going to make it less possible for us to change it. Not just by making 80 percent of us neoservants. But also by making 20 twenty percent of us overgrown babies. Who, like all babies, cry for the Gigantic Nanny Machine when the monsters come — instead of bravely venturing into the darkness to fend them off.

The Gigantic Nanny Machine won’t save the world. We can’t call on-demand TaskRabbits to fix climate change, economic stagnation, social decay, lost generations. We can’t call an Uber to drive the globe into a better future.”


enabling enterprise social networks

Mark Britz says that, “your organization already has an enterprise social network (hint, it’s people not technology). A platform just exposes it.” But it’s not not about the tools either, as in many cases the medium changes the message. When the AgileBits team found they were using Slack for everything, it became overwhelming, much as email and its inevitable inbox overload, is common in too many organizations.

“Slack was simply too good for us to resist and as a result we preferred using it over all the other tools at our disposal … All of these interactions would happen in Slack, despite there being many other tools that are better suited. Tools like bug trackers and wikis would allow answers to be preserved so future questions wouldn’t even have to be asked but they weren’t as fun.

We all knew how great it would be to have a repository of knowledge for people to find their answers, but Slack was simply too good at providing the quick fix we all needed. Copying these answers from Slack to a permanent location didn’t release the same endorphins provided by Slack, so it seldom happened.” – Curing Our Slack Addiction


complexity in the workplace

In my post on complexity and learning, I said that work in networks requires different skills than in hierarchies. Coordination is making sure things get done effectively and efficiently. Most organizations do this well. Collaboration is working together for a common objective, usually directed through someone in authority. This is still the focus of most management training. But cooperation should be the default behaviour for connected organizations working in the network era.

Cooperation presumes the freedom of individuals to join and participate. People in a network cannot be told what to do, only influenced by their peers. If they don’t like you, they won’t connect. In a hierarchy you only have to please your boss. In a network you have to be seen as having some value, though not the same value, by many others. Organizations need to be open, transparent, and diverse to thrive in networks. Enabling people to cooperate gives organizations the flexibility they will need to engage with complexity. (more…)

story skepticism

I have been thinking about storytelling lately as a lot of people are talking about it as essential for business, leadership, and whatever ails you. I have discussed it a few times over the years and have reviewed these thoughts. It appears that in the network era, storytelling is being retrieved, especially through podcasting and videos. Stories can be the glue, holding information together in some semblance of order, for our brains to process into knowledge.

We are storytelling creatures. Shawn Callahan noted that, “Our memories evolved to hunt, gather & avoid danger. Now we have great memories for places, faces & emotions. Why stories are memorable.” Stories are a key factor in how we learn, especially socially. Roger Schank observed that, “Comprehension is mapping your stories onto mine.” Stories are how we best remember and a story can be thought of as what happens in the gap between expectations and results. (more…)

complexity and social learning

As we transition from a market to a network economy, complexity will increase due to our hyper-connectedness. Managing in complex adaptive systems means influencing possibilities rather than striving for predictability (good or best practices). No one has the definitive answer any more but we can use the intelligence of our networks to make sense together and see how we can influence desired results. This is life in perpetual Beta. Get used to it. Preparing for this will require time, social learning, and new management structures.


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