Ten years ago — workplace learning in 10 years — I wrote that in 2019 much of the workforce will be distributed in time & space as well as in engagement. I also projected that work and learning will continue to blend while stand-up training will be challenged by the ever-present back channel. I predicted that the concept of personal knowledge mastery will have permeated much of the workplace. This last prediction has gained momentum in the past few years.
My first PKM client was Domino’s Pizza, who wanted to add this sensemaking framework to their leadership development program. I later worked with other companies such as Carlsberg and United Cities & Local Governments. Today, we are using the PKM framework to improve collaboration at a global financial corporation.
When I became a freelancer in 2003, remote work was not the norm, but being located in rural Atlantic Canada I had little choice unless I wanted to move to a metropolitan area. I have toyed with that idea over the years and entertained a few offers but no job could compare with my lifestyle, in spite of the financial roller coaster. I get to ride my bike or ski almost every day the weather permits. Anyway, PKM — introduced to me by Lilia Efimova in 2004 — became my sensemaking framework in order to stay professionally current and to connect with a global knowledge network.
My situation in 2003 has become more the norm. More people are working remotely and virtually. Most of my meetings today are via videoconferencing. Digital information flows are growing and getting polluted with misinformation, much as spam makes up the majority of email traffic today. Sensemaking is a critical skill for more knowledge professionals. The easy stuff keeps getting automated.
So is it possible to make predictions about workplace learning ten years from now?
I think the major change will be in communities — of practice, of interest, of mutual support. As social networks lose their utility due to spam, bots, and gaming the algorithms, safe spaces for learning will become essential. Learning in communities of trusted human relationships will be the main way professionals will keep up. If I were a young instructional designer today, I would start developing community management and support skills. As Verna Allee wrote in 2002, “Communities of practice emerge in the social space between project teams and knowledge networks”.