real learning is not abstract

Are we entering an era that heralds ‘The End of Reflection’, as this NY Times article suggests?

“Mr. [Nicholas] Carr observed that, for decades, Rodin’s 1902 sculpture “The Thinker” epitomized the highest form of contemplation: a figure with an imposing physique staring abstractly downward, hunched over to block out distraction, frozen because it’s a statue, of course, but also because deep thinkers need time and don’t fidget. It’s hard to imagine a postmodern update called “The Tweeter” being quite so inspirational.” Teddy Wayne, NYT

Is reflection solely the realm of sitting and thinking on one’s own? Or is it the ebb and flow of conversations and making meaning through discourse? If it is the latter, then Twitter can be one place where we can make sense of our complex world by engaging with others. Time for silent reflection is undoubtedly beneficial, but can it enable us to understand other opinions and new ideas, or will it lead to narrow egocentric thinking instead? (more…)

ideas in perpetual beta

I was discussing my work with a friend and was asked what were the main themes I talked about when I was on the stage. It made me think about how to present these core ideas in the simplest way. It’s probably too complicated for a series of tweets, but let’s see if these can be encapsulated in a blog post. If not, a major paper will have to be developed. After some ‘object oriented playing around’, here is what I have come up with. (more…)


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

The future of work is beginning to look increasingly like the past – via @WillRich45

“For centuries, the workforce comprised a host of artisans who had been apprenticed to a trade and learned their skill on-the-job. These people would typically include stonemasons, cabinetmakers and blacksmiths and they earned a living in their local area carrying out work for local businesses, farmers, gentry etc. They were predominantly self-employed, but often shared workshops and tools and sometimes teamed up with others to take on larger or more complex tasks. They relied on word of mouth and reputation to provide them with a steady stream of work and had a range of loyal and satisfied customers.

Much of these same principles apply in today’s so-called gig economy.”


knowledge catalysts add value

In the article, The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex, Sean Blanda says the main interest of too many writers and pundits “is not in making the reader’s life any better, it is in building their own profile as some kind of influencer or thought leader”.

“The bullshit industrial complex is a pyramid of groups that goes something like this:

Group 1: People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.

Group 2: People writing about group 1 in clear, concise, accessible language.

[And here rests the line of bullshit demarcation…]

Group 3: People aggregating the learnings of group 2, passing it off as first-hand wisdom.

Group 4: People aggregating the learnings of group 3, believing they are as worthy of praise as the people in group 1.

Groups 5+: And downward….

The Complex eventually becomes a full fledged self-sufficient ecosystem when people in group 4 are reviewing books by people in group 3 who are only tweeting people in group 2 who are appearing on the podcasts started by people in group 3.”


reflecting on freedom and democracy

Today marks my 13th anniversary of freelancing. It was a situation I was forced into, getting pushed out of the company where I worked, but I do not regret. The only downside to freelancing, in my experience, is the uncertain financial situation. Perhaps that’s a small price to pay for freedom.

I have been traveling these past few weeks and not blogging much. This will continue through June with more travel planned. A few ideas have been percolating in my ‘to be blogged’ notes and I plan to expand upon them over the Summer. (more…)

a note to business ‘leaders’

Would you still be a leader if you lost your positional authority? How would you know? In networks, your authority is derived from your reputation and the value of your connections to others in the network. Value and authority come from engagement with a network, usually over a long period of time. It’s the sum of many small interactions. So what would happen if you suddenly lost your positional authority? (more…)

collecting broken images

Do you remember that piece of research that informed your thesis 18 years ago? I do, it’s called the SPATIAL model and is no longer online, except on this blog (part of it).

I was asked by a friend if I could recommend some online resources for students to help with research and studying. It took me one click: my social bookmarks on Student Resources.

Could you write a 10,000 word paper, with citations, on a subject you know fairly well: in the next 24 hours? I can and I have done it for clients. I can do it on Leadership, Social Learning, Innovation, and several other topics. I have thousands of half-baked ideas that can be transformed into a coherent narrative, given a serious editing effort with a clear objective.

Could you quickly recommend the core people who are influential in one of your professional areas? I can, with my Twitter list of people who talk about the New World of Work.

These examples show how PKM is a discipline that makes my professional life easier and my work more effective. As Stephen B. Johnson says, “chance favors the connected mind”. We all have the tools available to create our outboard brains and offload some of the cognitive load of the network era, or as Dion Hinchcliffe recommends, “let the network do the work”. (more…)

PKM in the Summer

This is the third year of conducting my Personal Knowledge Mastery 40-day online workshops. The idea was to provide enough structure to get started on developing a PKM routine, some guided support, and time for reflection. Several people have found 40 days too little time and have taken the workshop more than once. This Summer I am initiating an experiment to see if a longer period of time makes a difference. The PKM in the Summer workshop will be 60 days, starting on 27 June 2016. There will be two activities per week, over nine weeks. This should accommodate any conflicting work and vacation schedules. As this is an experiment, the workshop is offered at a special price of $(US) 279.

We have had participants from around the globe over the past two years: AU, BE, CA, CH, CN, DE, ES, FR, IE, IN, IT, KR, NL, NO, UK, US, & ZA. Given time zone issues, having more time between activities may help people stay up to date. I find it valuable for everyone to get different cultural and geographic perspectives from the varied cohorts. My experience has also confirmed that doing these activities as a cohort is more effective than an individual self-paced program. (more…)

improvise for complexity

The premise of A Useful Idea is that improvisation acting principles can help with the creation of something new, and perhaps innovative. The five principles are:

  1. Assume complexity and only control process choices, not the outcome
  2. Nourish ‘ensemble’ to let go of safety and dive in with openness [improv activities help]
  3. Design skillful rehearsals & adaptive performances [perpetual beta]
  4. Tap into source [half-baked ideas]
  5. Think publicly [learn out loud]

I would strongly recommend this video and the approach it promotes. (more…)

“We made up these rules, and we can change them”

Now is the time for a serious rethinking of how we organize in our society: from businesses, to schools, and as communities. We need to base all of our organizations on the principle of temporary, negotiated hierarchies. In this way, citizens can freely cooperate and from time to time, as required, collaborate to get things done. This requires a new approach to organizing work, abolishing the separation of employer & employee, as well as the artificial and unequal division between labour and financial capital. Simultaneously, our educational systems need to phase out teachers and curriculum and focus on everyone becoming a better learner.

Top down leadership, including teaching, is no longer necessary in the network era. As Donald Clark notes, “We have fetishised ‘Leadership’, we’re all leaders now, rendering the word meaningless”. I have noted before that smart cities need smart citizens. The smart citizen is connected: to communities of practice, extended social networks, the community, and society. In the network era rigid hierarchies are counter-productive, as they shut off opportunities for serendipity and innovation, which is why self-organization must be the basis of new organizational models. The market era is ending. The emerging network era needs new operating principles. Now is the time to create these. (more…)