The proverbial shit has hit the fan. Were you ready? Did you have a knowledge network that you could depend upon to make sense of your digital world?
“When the shit hits the fan you want your inside information flow to be at least as fast as what is happening outside. In most organisations this is not the case … If you have a big enough, mature enough, fast enough set of internal conversations taking place then you will be better able to work out what is happening and what to do about it.” —Euan Semple 2020-03-17
For the first time ever, most students in schools in many countries are learning at a distance [850 million out of school as of today]. For the first time ever, in some countries, more people are working remotely than going to a place of work. The network era starts in 2020. Everything before was a prelude.
The new normal, when it comes, will be different. Teaching will be turned upside down. So too will curricula, academic disciplines, and their institutions.
Work will change. Consider that at this moment our essential workers are cooks, cleaners, delivery drivers, and front desk staff. Non-essential personnel like executives, analysts, marketers, and programmers, can stay home.
Many of us have seen this coming. I have been writing about the changes to network era work and learning over the past 16 years. But now everyone can see it. We can reduce commuter congestion by 50% through distributed work. This will reduce carbon emissions as well. There was only one thing stopping it from happening before — management. A microscopic virus took care of that.
Now that management is no longer in charge, every worker has to take charge of their own learning. It won’t come from a program that HR will deliver, after 12 months of development. The standard 20th century training and education model, AKA ‘shaping’ — “Shaping is B.F. Skinner’s ‘Operant Conditioning’, if you want to look into that one” — is dead. Mastery comes from modelling. It is how the apprentice becomes a journeyman and in time a master. It is not done in isolation. Modelling happens in networks, communities, and teams. Shaping may have worked when our environments were complicated, but not after the shit has hit the fan. Who has the base knowledge to do the shaping for the current state of complexity and chaos anyway?
The way forward is to cooperate and collaborate through Strategic Doing. It starts by building safe spaces for deep and focused conversations, not developing a plan or a curriculum. It continues as we learn by doing the work, one step at a time. Don’t wait for orders from above, because in a network there is no above or below. In a network society we are all connected. We can all make our networks smarter, able to make better decisions, and more resilient. In a network society, we are all leaders.