what it’s all about

Three things are essential for meaningful work in the network era — diversity, learning, and trust.


While there is much talk about information overload, it has never been easier for us to find diverse opinions, experiences, and perspectives. To make sense of any complex matter we cannot rely on a single source. As with the blind men and the elephant, each of us can only see a part of the whole. It’s not just gender balance that we need to cultivate in our social networks but overall intellectual diversity.

“All human systems are connected and connected systems cannot be understood in terms of isolated parts.”Esko Kilpi


Continuous learning is being promoted in all sectors today, from academics, to business leaders, to politicians. Making learning part of our ongoing life practices becomes essential. This is much more than a formal initiative to keep people up to date on something like machine learning. We have to keep sharpening our own curiosity and challenge our assumptions.

“There are no educators, but only people who show others how they can educate themselves.” — «Il n’y a pas d’éducateurs, mais seulement des gens qui montrent aux autres comment ils s’y prennent pour s’éduquer eux-même.»Jean Guitton


Trust is the lubricant that makes work effective. It emerges from human networks that are open, transparent, and diverse. Trusted people can start working together quicker. Some of that trust can be built in professional networks by sharing knowledge. It can be developed in communities focused on learning. We can improve our ongoing sensemaking by connecting networks, communities, and work teams through knowledge-sharing. We are more open to learning from people we trust.

“Filtering is the new search. The next frontier in information management. Search is about Where. Filtering is about Who. It’s about Trust.”Christian deNeef


Self-determination theory (SDT) is based on three innate human requirements: Competence, Relatedness, and Autonomy.

Deci and Ryan [the researchers] claim that there are three essential elements of the theory:

1. Humans are inherently proactive with their potential and mastering their inner forces (such as drives and emotions)
2. Humans have an inherent tendency toward growth development and integrated functioning
3. Optimal development and actions are inherent in humans but they don’t happen automatically

Diversity in our relationships can help to develop relatedness and understand others. We trust people we know. The more diverse our relationships the more open we are to new ideas. Then through continuous self-directed and social learning we can increase our competence. Working in negotiated, trusted relationships gives us the autonomy that authority-based power relationships cannot. Citizen self-determination ensures democracy.

  • Without Autonomy we are Disengaged
  • Without Competence we are Ineffective
  • Without Relatedness we are Aimless

Work is learning & learning is the work

Today marks 15 years of active sensemaking through blogging on this site. These three essential factors, coupled with SDT, encapsulate much of what I have learned. Reflecting on over 3,100 posts, I have been able to distill a good part of my work into this one short summary. If you are interested in ‘the future of work’ or ‘the future of education’, start with these.

  • Diversity
  • Learning
  • Trust
  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Relatedness

5 Responses to “what it’s all about”

  1. Hugh

    Congratulations on 15 years of wonderful work. Your ability to distill complex subject into more easily understood forms is greatly appreciated.


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