“the future of work will be based on hacking uncertainty”

In spite of the criticism about social media, I still learn a lot from a platform like Twitter. The passing of Esko Kilpi this week has me reviewing some of his wise words, and there were many. This is a series of his tweets from 2012.

Unlike mechanical systems, human systems thrive on variety and diversity.
An exact replication of behavior in nature would be disastrous and seen as neurotic in social life.
The Internet changes the patterns of connectivity.
The Internet transforms our understanding what “local” is, makes possible wide participation and new enriching variety in interaction.
All human systems are connected and connected systems cannot be understood in terms of isolated parts.
The unit of analysis is now communication and emergence, not entities.
The perspective of network science views knowledge as socially created and socially re-created.
Management literature typically emphasizes individuals and locates explanatory power in their personal properties.
The potential of social media cannot be realized without a very different epistemological grounding, a relational perspective.
Independently existing people and things then become viewed as co-constructed in coordinated networked action.

Esko said that in order to develop the necessary emergent practices to deal with complexity you need to first cultivate diversity and by this I would say the autonomy of each learner. You also need rich and deep connections, but these are not enough if you don’t also have meaningful conversations, which can be enabled through social learning. If you look at most training and education, including micro-learning or whatever is the latest fad, this counsel is often ignored.

The best advice from Esko — in my opinion — was to hack uncertainty and hedge risks.

“The future of work will be based on hacking uncertainty and hedging risks through post-blockchain smart contracts, learning, and social capital.

The main question is perhaps not what skills we should have in the future, but how we hedge the risks that are inbuilt in our world, our unique knowledge assets, the know-what, the know-who and know-how of our life.” —Esko Kilpi

The social safety net used to be in our workplaces and is now shifting to our social networks. This is already the current state of affairs for many freelancers. We can hedge our work futures by engaging  in collectives and communities to create a wide and diverse web of connections and relationships so that we can take advantage of flash opportunities for work — on our own terms. Esko saw and promoted this positive future of work. It’s all about connecting people

“The network design principles successful organizations follow are: ( 1 ) shortening the distance between two randomly picked files/nodes/people. ( 2 ) getting more people who you personally know to know each other.” —Esko Kilpi

A lot of Esko’s thoughts are combined in a book released by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra in August 2016 — Perspectives on new work: Exploring emerging conceptualizations. It is a comprehensive read on the future of work. I wrote a synopsis of the highlights which includes a link to the 132 page PDF.

I do not use the term ‘thought leadership’ lightly, but that is what Esko provided to many of us around the world. He will be missed.

In conversation with Esko Kilpi 2017 (Photo by Riitta Raesmaa)


One Response to ““the future of work will be based on hacking uncertainty””

  1. Sebastian

    Dear Harold, Thank you for sharing this. A true humanist has left us way too early and, yes, he is missed. Already. So much work to do.


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