learning is the work, redux

Ten years ago I wrote — work is learning, and learning is the work. I have been asked to speak about this topic at the LernOS Convention on 5 July, which I will present online. Let’s see what has transpired in a decade.

The first paragraph is even more pertinent today, especially given the global experiences of distributed work — We have come to a point where organizations can no longer leave learning to their HR or training departments. Being able to understand emerging situations, see patterns, and co-solve problems are essential business skills. — where social learning becomes critical in knowledge sharing and learning in the complex domain.

This is how I described the situation ten years ago, with notes added underneath from the present perspective.

  • Our world is getting more complex as everything gets connected
    • The idea of The Entanglement is that the world has become so complex and interconnected that the individual disciplines developed during The Enlightenment — like medicine — are no longer adequate to help society in our collective sensemaking, especially during global crises.
  • Complex problems require more implicit knowledge
    • What do the terms implicit, explicit, and tacit knowledge mean? It seems that many in the knowledge management discipline do not — the codification of knowledge.
  • Implicit knowledge can only be shared through conversations & observation.
    • Sensemaking’s secret weapon“It is not being in the know, but rather having to translate between different groups so that you develop gifts of analogy, metaphor, and communicating between people who have difficulty communicating to each other”
  • Collaborative and distributed work is the norm.
  • Knowledge-sharing and narration of work make implicit knowledge more visible.
    • Working collaboratively & learning cooperatively — Social networks can provide inspiration but sensemaking requires the resolve to solve problems. This means the integration of learning and working. Flipping from learning to working is a continuous process on a daily basis.
  • Transparent work processes foster innovation.
    • Knowledge flows at the speed of trust — Openness enables transparency and knowledge-sharing, which fosters diversity of opinions, and these reinforce social networks. It is only over time that trust emerges.
  • Learning is part of work, not separate from it.
    • Yes — Work is learning, and learning is the work.


learning is the work

Image: Red42

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