As we enter the network era, the dominant technology is the internet and working knowledge is distributed through professional communities, many of which are hosted online. Compare this to the last 75 years where the company was connected to a factory and knowledge was delivered from business schools. Tangible goods, best practices, and standardization are being replaced by intangible assets, emergent practices, and transparency. In the network era, business is changing.
In the networked knowledge triad, I tried to show how real value creation today happens outside the organization. Therefore professionals should develop value creation networks that connect to the world, beyond the current workplace. These networks are the modern equivalents of degrees and certificates. They are the value we bring to our work teams and organizations. As the life expectancy of organizations decreases, we can no longer depend on employers to provide stability for our working lives. That stability now comes from our networks.
Here is my own example, after working on a long-term project with a client.
“What the Internet Time Alliance brought to the table in our engagement, in the person of Harold Jarche, was not only his extensive experience and network, but also the expertise of the rest of the Alliance and their networks as well. While we in our organization have networks of our own, the quality and extensiveness of the ITA network added a value that we would not have been able to tap alone, and led us to a superior solution that will better serve our customers.” —Corporate University Manager within Fortune 500 Health Insurance company
Today, you are only as good as your network. In my PKM Workshops, the first activity is to map your network. You have to visualize it to understand it. Then you have to understand how to be a contributing member of knowledge networks in order to continuously learn. As David Williamson Shaffer says, “A professional is anyone who does work that cannot be standardized easily and who continuously welcomes challenges at the cutting edge of his or her expertise.” This is the reality of a digital economy that is continuously automating routine, standardized work, leaving only non-routine, creative, and unique work for us humans.
The networked knowledge model (below) integrates the PKMastery Seek > Sense > Share framework within a value creation perspective. As organizations get decentralized and work teams more dynamic, individuals need a long-term approach for their professional development and knowledge sharing. They cannot rely on the increasingly temporary nature of companies. Today, all professionals need large and diverse knowledge networks. In addition, they have to find and engage with professional communities of practice in order to continuously change their practice to deal with a fluid external environment. If not, they will fail to create value.
Work is learning, and learning is the work. Failure to integrate these into our daily lives may render us redundant in a time when many traditional jobs are getting automated. Consider that 43% of senior executives have the ‘robotic automation of processes‘ as their priority for 2017.