In 2003 I was suddenly unemployed, jettisoned shortly before the learning technology company where I was CLO went bankrupt. Look where I live, in Sackville. My network in 2003 was quite small and mostly Canadian. So how did I get to Sydney, NSW today? How did I learn to do what I now do? The same way everyone will be learning as the network era emerges. I learned by doing; but mostly through sharing, especially on this blog. Today at the Amplify Festival I spoke about this journey and discussed how learning is becoming something we may not even be talking about in the future, as everyone will be doing it as part of their work.
Only people can enable knowledge, trust and credibility to flow within and between markets and companies. The human brain is the only interface we have that can deal with complexity. Many of our work systems, like departments and hierarchies of control, are artifacts of a time when information was scarce and connections were few. In Organize for Complexity, Niels Pflaeging writes, “Complexity can neither be managed, nor reduced. We can only confront it with human mastery”. Sense-making skills, like personal knowledge mastery, are becoming essential for the complex work that more people have to deal with, as automation handles the routine and standard things.
The core skills needed by customer-facing workers are based on working & learning out loud, which create knowledge artifacts that can be shared. Collaborative skills get work done, but even more importantly today, cooperative skills connect people by building trust. Cooperation creates the bonds that can enable knowledge to flow between markets and companies, through a multitude of human relationships. The challenge for organizations is to let go of control so that employees and customers can cooperate. The challenge for individuals is let go of control so they are open to learning. Learning is making connections, and so is working in the network era.