innovation in perpetual beta

The perpetual beta working model tries to show how work and learning are related as we negotiate various types of networks to get new ideas, test them out, and innovate how we work. We  seek, sense, and share knowledge in different social circumstances, sometimes with strangers and other times with close and trusted colleagues. Our social networks can help us increase our awareness of new ideas. We can test alternative models and concepts between trusted members in communities of practice, if we have the luck or foresight of being actively engaged in one. Then in our workplaces we take action on the new knowledge we have developed from our looser-knit networks. (more…)

best finds of 2016

Every second Friday I review what I’ve noted on social media and post a wrap-up of what caught my eye. I do this as a reflective thinking process and to put what I’ve learned on a platform I control: this blog. Here are what I consider the best of Friday’s Finds for 2016.


@Tom_Peters: “Presidents rarely get good advice. Every ‘presenter’ presents a totally biased solution–often suppressing competing evidence.”

@atduskgreg“Machine learning is automated bureaucracy. It spits back the systemic biases we feed it in feature vectors, training sets, reward functions.”

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” —H.L. Mencken, via @normsmusic

@HughCards: “As the Internet makes everything cheaper, access to real networks (Harvard, Wall St., Silicon Valley etc) gets even more expensive.”

“Power not only corrupts, it addicts.” —Ursula Le Guin, via @ndcollaborative

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” —Marcus Aurelius — via @MickFealty (more…)

the secret of freedom

“Le secret de la liberté est d’éclairer les hommes, comme celui de la tyrannie et de les retenir dans l’ignorance.” —Maximilien Robespierre (1758 – 1794)
Translation: “The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

Is there more ‘fake news’ today than in previous decades, especially before the web? I think there is probably more only because there are more sources of information. It used to be that you bought a newspaper to get some depth of reporting, complete with advertisements, or watched television to get ‘up-to-the-minute’ news. Of course it was all edited and curated. As time goes on we find out many of the truths we were told in the past were ‘well-massaged’ by the power elites. But if we are in a post-truth moment then we need to understand the tools we have at hand to deal with falsehoods. (more…)

friday’s visualizations

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

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” —Stephen Biko, Speech in Cape Town, 1971, via @marick

“We talk and we share and we point out what is true. The answer to bad speech is more speech” on TechCrunch

Visualization for understanding is a powerful way to communicate complex or new ideas. Used effectively and openly, visualization can help us progress in our collective understanding.

Here are some examples of visualizations for understanding that I have recently found through my professional social networks. (more…)

pkm 2016

“Any man who reads too much and uses his brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” —Albert Einstein

Personal knowledge mastery is the ability to make sense of our digital and physical surround. It is a discipline that effectively filters ‘fake news’ and counters the trend to a ‘post-truth’ era. PKM puts us in charge of our learning. The PKM framework shows the need to develop a knowledge network and connect with mechanical and human filters, curators, and aggregators of information. From this diverse source of information and knowledge each person must develop appropriate sense-making methods. These are many and varied and there is no one correct method. While seeking information, through reading and other methods, is fine, one must do something with it. This is sense-making. It takes time, effort, practice, and reflection.

Validating, synthesizing, and customizing our thoughts are one way to make sense for ourselves. By sharing these thoughts and ideas as concrete artifacts we expose ourselves to criticism, but also provide the opportunity to build upon our knowledge. Sharing openly and as widely as possible increases the opportunities for serendipitous connections that may lead to innovation.

PKM is based on the premise that work is learning, and learning is the work. (more…)

understanding our tools

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”Father John Culkin (1967) in  ‘A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan’.

If every medium influences communication, then what effect does that have on our own learning as well as how we help others to learn? We choose our tools, and then they take is in a certain direction, of which we may not be conscious.  Knowing which tool to select becomes critical, especially in communications. Email can be terse, while Twitter is short and lacks nuance. The printed word does not have the emotion of the spoken word. Video can be all emotion and little substance. Consider the power of Riefenstahl’s 1934 film, Triumph of the Will for Nazi Germany. It was all about emotion and imagery, with almost no narration. (more…)

working to learn

This is an extract from Learning to work and working to learn by Ronald Barnett, published in 1999. It is even more relevant seventeen years later.

“In this chapter, I shall suggest that, in understanding their relationships in the contemporary era, work and learning can profitably be placed against the background of wider societal and even global shifts. I shall suggest that we live in an age of supercomplexity. That is to say, we live in an age in which our very frameworks for comprehending the world, for acting in it and for relating to each other are entirely problematic. We live in a world characterised by contestability, challengeability, uncertainty and unpredictability.

My argument is that, under conditions of supercomplexity, work has to become learning and learning has to become work. These imperatives – as they have now become – arise out of the fragility of the supercomplex environment in which we are all placed. We cannot escape the conditions of supercomplexity which face us in ‘the global age’ (Albrow 1996). As a result, learning in work takes on a new urgency. Equally, learning has itself to be seen as work, as a set of activities which stand, to some extent, outside of individuals and which yields value beyond that of the individuals’ efforts. Only through taking work and learning seriously in these ways can we begin to address the age of supercomplexity in which we find ourselves.”


friday’s factual finds

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

“Purposeful play. Play equals trust. A space where we can take risks. Only by taking risks do we get to learn about ourselves & each other.”@ImSporticus

“Most metrics ignore: Collaboration, Relationship-building, Capacity-building, Knowledge generation, and Kindness”@4KM

“Remember when people thought the Internet, social media, twitter, etc. would strengthen democracy & undermine authoritarians? Oh well.”@StephenWalt

“You know it is a tribe when it only learns to protect itself or profit, not to civilise.”@gpetriglieri

“‘Fake news’ is lazy language. Be specific. Do you mean: A) Propaganda B) Disinformation C) Conspiracy theory D) Clickbait”@7im (more…)

closing the learning-knowledge loop

For 10 years Jane McConnell has been researching organizations in the digital age. The latest report surveyed 311 people from 27 countries, representing a variety of global companies from 18 market sectors. Participants responded to an in-depth online survey of over 100 questions. I was a member of the Advisory Board.

I would like to focus on one finding that Jane discussed recently on LinkedIn Pulse.

11. Learning is easier than remembering.

Learning in the natural flow of work is becoming easier. E-learning, real-time access to experts and communities of practice facilitate learning while working. 56% now say it is easy, compared to 23% three years ago. Responsibility for learning lies primarily with people themselves, rather than their manager or the HR department.

Remembering, or retaining knowledge and know-how when people leave the organization is extremely difficult. In the last three editions of the report, fewer than 15% of organizations expressed confidence in retaining knowledge and know-how when people leave. These organizations differ from the others in several ways, but two primary distinctions are that people tend to work out loud and leadership styles in the organization are open and participatory.

Learning in organizations seems to be easy, while remembering and using knowledge is hard. This highlights the difference between the disciplines of ‘Organizational Learning’ and ‘Knowledge Management’. (more…)

designing the emergent organization

In The Rise of Emergent Organizations, Beth Comstock, Vice Chair at GE, provides some rules of thumb to guide organizational design for the emerging network era. It is wonderful to see a large corporation putting into practice the recommendations I, and many others, have been making on organizational design for more than a decade. I have taken five of these rules of thumb and annotated them with images from my last book in the perpetual beta series: Working in Perpetual Beta. With such an example set by GE, more organizations should be able to convince their executives that a serious redesign of how they work is essential. The alternative does not look good.

“The Elephant in the Room: Our current approach to business and employment (two crucial drivers of the economy) are designed to screw and take advantage of far too many people in the workforce. Extensive changes are required to fix this, much faster than most leaders are willing to admit, talk about, or address.

The elephant in the room is the future of work and every person’s place in that future.”

Bill Jensen