understanding systems

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

“We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.” —Ellen Ullman, via @CodeWisdom

@Eric_Weiner: “All travel is time travel. We journey in order to transport ourselves to another era or, better yet, change the rhythm of our lives.” (more…)

freedom inc. review

In these times, can you afford to continue stifling the vast majority of your people instead of giving them a chance to help your business? —Freedom Inc.

If you liked the book Reinventing Organizations (2014) then you will like Freedom Inc. written in 2009. If you have not read Frédéric Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations, read Freedom Inc. instead. Freedom Inc. has many case studies from the same companies that are in Reinventing Organizations but the former are more comprehensive. Carney & Getz definitely have done their homework as they delve into what creates a liberating company. They are much less prescriptive than Laloux in what they learn about corporate liberation and instead focus on finding core principles. They understand that in complex human systems all contexts are different. They offer insights from a wide variety of companies and industries.

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Jay Cross Memorial Award 2017

The Internet Time Alliance Jay Cross Memorial Award is presented to a workplace learning professional who has contributed in positive ways to the field of Real Learning and is reflective of Jay’s lifetime of work.

Recipients champion workplace and social learning practices inside their organization and/or on the wider stage. They share their work in public and often challenge conventional wisdom. The Jay Cross Memorial Award is given to professionals who continuously welcome challenges at the cutting edge of their expertise and are convincing and effective advocates of a humanistic approach to workplace learning and performance.

We announce the award on 5 July, Jay’s birthday.

Following his death in November 2015, the partners of the Internet Time Alliance (Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn) resolved to continue Jay’s work. Jay Cross was a deep thinker and a man of many talents, never resting on his past accomplishments, and this award is one way to keep pushing our professional fields and industries to find new and better ways to learn and work.

The Internet Time Alliance Jay Cross Memorial Award for 2017 is presented to Marcia Conner. (more…)

our simply complex world

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

@ScottSantens: “Our problem is not that jobs are going away thanks to technology. It’s that we require jobs for income, and believe 40 hours is ‘full-time'”.

@Richard_Florida: “Cities need to be places of chance encounter and eccentricity, rather than exclusivity and segregation.”

What are the lessons people most often learn too late in life? by @dsearls

“Humans are learning animals, and among the things we all learn eventually—or should—is that knowledge is provisional, truths are opinions, and our first calling is to learn more and keep our mind open, even though that gets harder as experiences accumulate and prejudices with them.”

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soft skills are permanent skills

Are soft skills the new hard skills? I asked this question six years ago. I would now suggest that hard skills are really temporary skills. They come and go according to the economy and the state of technology. Today, we need very few people who know how to shoe a horse. Soft skills are permanent ones. In a recent New York Times article the company LinkedIn had identified a number of currently in-demand skills.

HARD SKILLS
Cloud Computing Expertise
Data Mining and Statistical Analysis
Smartphone App Development
Data Storage Engineering and Management
User Interface Design
Network Security Expertise

SOFT SKILLS
Communication
Curiosity
Adaptability
Teamwork
Empathy
Time Management
Open-Mindedness

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a liquid stream of facts

“Ironically, in an age of instant global connection, my certainty about anything has decreased. Rather than receiving truth from an authority, I am reduced to assembling my own certainty from the liquid stream of facts flowing through the web. Truth, with a capital T, becomes truths, plural. I have to sort the truths not just about things I care about, but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can’t possibly have any direct knowledge. That means that in general I have to constantly question what I think I know. We might consider this state perfect for the advancement of science, but it also means that I am more likely to have my mind changed for incorrect reasons.” —Kevin Kelly

This is perhaps the most succinct rationale for disciplines like personal knowledge mastery (PKM). We can no longer rely upon traditional gatekeepers of information and knowledge. Each of us must engage with others and develop trusted knowledge networks. None of us are smart enough to handle all the connections in our digital lives on our own. We need to use both our human networks and our machines in concert. Let me give just two examples. (more…)

Antigonish 2.0

There is a tradition of using public broadcasting for debate and public education in Canada. Two  popular programmes on CBC radio in the 1930’s and 1940’s were the Citizens’ Forum and the Farm Radio Forum.

“Farm Forum innovations included a regional report-back system, whereby group conclusions were collected centrally and broadcast regularly across Canada, occasionally being sent to appropriate governments. In addition, discussion – leading to self-help – resulted in diverse community ‘action projects’ such as co-operatives, new forums and folk schools. Farm and community leaders claimed that the give-and-take of these discussions provided useful training for later public life. In 1952, UNESCO commissioned research into Farm Forum techniques. Its report was published in 1954, and consequently India, Ghana and France began using Canadian Farm Forum models in their programs.” —Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Even though radio is a one-way medium, innovations such as programme guides by mail one week in advance, local discussion groups, and national feedback on individual responses kept people actively involved. Imagine a group of farmers gathering at a neighbour’s house, bringing food for a communal supper, and then discussing issues of great social relevance,  like the possibility of medicare. Today, the CBC produces programmes such as Cross-Country Checkup and the Radio Noon Phone-In for similar purposes. (more…)

the discerning mind

“I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.” —J.K. Rowling (attrib.)

In the PKM framework of Seek > Sense > Share, the latter may seem easy but it does not always equate to helping others make sense. Some people are good at recognizing all the contextual signals in the workplace, making implicit connections, and then identifying something that might be useful to share. It usually takes time and practice to be a discerning sharer of knowledge. Sometimes an idea is not ready to share. Sometimes it helps to share a ‘half-baked idea’. It depends. PKM requires a discerning mind. (more…)

look for disconfirming data

Adam Kahane hosted a webcast this week to discuss his new book, Collaborating with the Enemy. I thought his first book, Solving Tough Problems, was an excellent read so I attended. What follows are from my notes. The quotes are as I wrote them down and may not be Kahane’s exact words.

Kahane opened the session with an observation from his research that “collaboration is often difficult and painful and doesn’t work”. He described collaboration as the fourth option, usually after these three are discarded: adapt, exit, and force. It is often when forcing our position is not possible that we realize we must collaborate. Kahane cited the case of our relationship with the United States, in that Canada has no choice but to collaborate with the USA. Canada cannot exit North America, adapt its borders, or force its way with our larger neighbour.

Kahane stated that the conventional model of collaboration implicitly means control, it is constricted, and cannot succeed in complex situations when both parties do not want to collaborate. The book describes a process Kahane calls ‘stretch collaboration’. It is an open process and often makes participants feel uncomfortable as they lack control over what will transpire. Stretch collaboration is based on three fundamental assumptions:

  1. We are not one team or whole, and we have a multiplicity of interests. We have to embrace conflict as well as connection.
  2. We are probably not going to agree on either the problem or the solution, so the only way to find out is to try one step at a time, and to experiment.
  3. The only thing you can change is yourself.

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learning cities

Is tribalism a reaction to our concerns about the emerging network era, which is putting into question our existing institutions and markets developed in previous eras?  Jalaja Bonheim wrote about this phenomenon in Why We Love Trump and describes a potential counteracting force: “A new consciousness is awakening that recognizes our oneness as a global community.” But David Ronfeldt thinks there are smaller scale efforts that do not require such global engagement.

“In any case, I am struck so far that many readings about tribalism end up recommending ways to improve interpersonal relations, and/or ways to foster global consciousness. Yet there are intermediate levels that, so far, have been neglected by those who discuss malignant tribalisms.

Consider, for example, ideas about our needing a new social compact, or social contract, or national covenant. As I’ve often argued from a TIMN [Tribes + Institutions + Markets + Networks] perspective, getting the tribal form right is essential for a healthy society. The obvious elements are families and communities. Yet the bright side of the tribal form is also found in social compacts, contracts, and covenants that political philosophers and historians like to discuss.” —David Ronfeldt

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