The great thing about a blog is that it gives a view of my thinking and how it has progressed or changed over time. This year marked 15 years of freelancing and one new initiative was the perpetual beta coffee club — a community of professionals focused on work & learning in the network era — which now numbers over 50 members. A community is not a network and I am seeing more demand for safe community spaces online. Our community of practice has become a place to share ideas and have deeper conversations in a trusted space with an international group of professionals.
Speaking of changing practices, I decided to get rid of Google Analytics on this site because I did not want to be part of the growing surveillance economy. I also stopped using Google’s Feedburner service for email subscriptions. As a result I lost over 500 subscribers. Later I found the IceGram service, which does not track subscribers. You can sign up on my Contact Page. This year it also became obvious that vanity metrics — views, likes, retweets, etc. — are of little business value, so it’s best to just ignore them. I am.
John Kellden told me last year that what I provide as a professional service are actionable insights on work and learning. This has now become the overall descriptor of my work.
Some of my posts resulted in conversations with a global audience, such as — business schools are a technology of the last century — which were initially created to meet the demands of new corporations to train middle managers. They no longer meet the requirements of managers and business owners to deal with the complexity of business in the network era. Instead, well-managed professional communities of practice with a good vision and a compass for the future can provide a trusted environment for making these connections.
In discussing leadership in the network era, I came across the example of Risto Siilasmaa at Nokia, who is not only a proactive learner but a knowledge catalyst and adds value to what he has learned in order to speed the spread of knowledge throughout the company. In this case it was how machine learning affects all workers at Nokia. He has given his presentation based on months of learning, available online as a video, to “… the full Finnish cabinet, many of the commissioners of the European Union, a group of United Nations ambassadors, and 200 teenage schoolgirls to get them interested in science“.
Another example of integrating learning and work is Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple, who gave a lecture on how important it is to shift between curiosity and resolve several times a day. This will be the mark of successful professionals in any creative, networked workplace. Professionals in the network era have to feed their curiosity, support learning in community, and resolve to solve problems together.
Finally, and most importantly, current events make it obvious that we all need to get involved in saving democracy and strengthening our institutions and workplaces. As computers take over much government work we cannot turn a blind eye to how they make decisions. We have to connect our humanity and knowledge. Not only do we have to focus on human work, we must keep a careful eye on what the machines are doing, why they are doing it, how they are making their decisions, and who is programming them. Our future is connected, and in perpetual beta.