an unstoppable force for change

I presented the McLuhan media tetrad last week in South Africa. [see ‘a world of pervasive networks’ for background on these laws of media]. Societies change their basic organizing structures when the primary mode of communication changes [T+I+M+N]: from oral, to writing, to print, and now to electric (digital). As we shift our dominant communications medium from print to electric, our organizing methods must change as well. We no longer organize as tribes in ‘developed’ countries, but we still have strong cultural and familial bonds. Our institutions have not disappeared but they are inadequate for many of the modern challenges facing us. Faith in markets is declining, as they are found to be inadequate to share wealth in any equitable fashion. We are seeing an increase in cooperation among many agents in the networked society as they try to create new ways living together and exchanging value. (more…)

leadership and learning

The best leaders are constant learners is the subject of a recent post in the Harvard Business Review, written by Kenneth Mikkelsen and myself. This is resonating with many readers who realize that the network era is changing the nature of all organizational relationships.

As we attempt to transition into a networked creative economy, we need leaders who promote learning and who master fast, relevant, and autonomous learning themselves. There is no other way to address the wicked problems facing us. If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning. In a recent Deloitte study, Global Human Capital Trends 2015, 85% of the respondents cited learning as being either important or very important. Yet, according to the study, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to address this challenge.


Friday’s Late Finds

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds [due to my travel and work schedule in South Africa this week, I am a day late].

“Money is the wealthy person’s curtain which hides all their defects from the world.” – Anon – via @RogerFrancis1

@Orgnet – “You need both strong ties and weak ties for a successful professional network”. More: Professional Social Graphs (more…)

leadership is learning

About 10 years ago I worked on a project with nursing staff as they changed their basic care model from one that was patient-centric to a model where “nurses engage the person/family to actively participate in learning about health”. The McGill Model of Nursing is learning-centric. This fundamental shift in focus is a prime example of the major organizational change required from both our education systems and our management models, as we transition into a networked creative economy. In an era of ubiquitous connectivity, leadership at all levels and all sectors must be about promoting learning. There is no other way to address the many wicked problems facing us. If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership at work should be all about promoting learning. (more…)

step aside for network era democracy

Verna Allee says that in states of ‘complex unorder’, loose hierarchies and strong networks are necessary. This point was driven home this morning as I listened on CBC radio about the closure of a rural school in Nova Scotia and how the option of turning it into a ‘hub school’ was beyond the comprehension of the school board and department of education. These are strongly hierarchical organizations, while the community has been strengthening its networks between multiple actors in the region and beyond. The community understands it is dealing with a state of complex unorder, while the bureaucrats still think it is merely ‘complicated order’, as the departmental guidelines on hub schools attest.

“The neo-liberal argument is that the demand for school space is down and surplus inventory should logically be discarded. School sites are just property, a disposable public asset, and a potential public liability if they do not yield a return on their investment. By this logic fewer school children mean fewer schools. Schools have no place in neighbourhoods too small to supply a large enough clientele to make them ‘viable’. Market forces and market thinking trump democratic ideals for local communities.” – The School as Community Hub