When “hope and history rhyme”

When the pandemic began — it’s not over — I stopped reading dystopian fiction, some of which I had recommended in Summer science-fiction a couple of years before. The last one I had read was Station Eleven, which I am glad I did so before March 2020. My first read this Summer has been Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future — here is Bryan Alexander’s final instalment from his book club.

The Ministry for the Future can be called speculative fiction, and in this case provides a wide array of methods and processes that we might collectively use to get us through the current climate catastrophe. As fiction, it is more persuasive than any research report or white paper. It opens with a heat wave in India with temperatures above 38C and 60% humidity. Millions of people die as a result. Well, the 2022 heat wave in Pakistan and India hit 49.5C! (more…)

telling stories

On the last Friday of each month I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Proposal to stop referring to the pandemic in the past tense and climate change in the future tense.”@BethSawin

That you tried your damndest
only to fall ill now
is no reason to feel shame
after so many months
of masks and social distancing
of shots and canceled plans
it is not that you failed
but that your society failed you.


The shame should rest
Where the blame does rest
Yet those who should hang their heads,
abashed at the unexpected harvest their actions did sow
Do not see the ripples in the pond,

while, those who bobbling in the wake,
hear the peal of memory,
“I made a mistake.”

@Bitsy15CS (more…)

stupid is as stupid does

Three years ago, in confronting the post-truth machines, I wrote that we cannot let the algorithmic overlords control the conversation. Education on the nature of disinformation is essential. This is what new media literacy should focus on, not just understanding the latest tools and platforms.

Meanwhile, in Canada, we observe that conspiracy theories abound in the public mind.

New Abacus Data polling reveals some pretty sobering findings on the state of the Canadian political landscape. According to the survey, 44 percent of Canadians now believe that a secret group of elites is controlling elections, recessions and wars. Thirty-seven percent are inclined to believe the racist “white replacement theory”. The poll also found that 13 percent think Bill Gates is tracking us with microchips, while another 21 percent are unsure if he is actually doing it but believe such things are possible. —Policy Mag 2022-06-18


managing to lead in complexity

The military is beginning to understand that some of its leadership practices need to change as its challenges increase in complexity. Future warfare will increasingly move toward the complex domain.

“Complex contexts cannot be solved; they can only be managed. In a context with variables and relationships that are constantly shifting, leaders are unable to assess the situation and apply the appropriate solution. Instead, they must begin by intentionally probing the environment and conducting small, experimental actions to generate insights they can then analyze for patterns.” —Modern War Institute at West Point 2022-06-15

Major Heloise Goodley, UK army chief of general staff’s research fellow at Chatham House, says that new skills are needed for the modern, machine-augmented battlefield.

“The proliferation of automation and artificial intelligence has not decreased the requirement for a human component in war, but it is changing the decision making and cognitive skills required of those soldiers. The army needs soldiers who have the intellectual and psychological aptitude to work in an increasingly automated operational environment, the very computer skills Generation Z have become derided for.” —The Independent 2019-01-05


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. (more…)

one personbyte is not enough

Nick Milton refers to an interesting knowledge management concept — “‘personbyte’ – the amount of knowledge one person can reasonably learn in a lifetime. In the craftsman economy of 100 years ago, a personbyte was enough knowledge to create an impressive artefact — a steamboat, a canal, or a suspension bridge. Nowadays one personbyte is nowhere near enough to create modern products, or deliver modern services.”

So why do we have individual performance appraisals? (more…)

there is no public in the global market

Two years ago, just after the pandemic was declared, I suggested that we need to go beyond civil society, governments, and markets — toward a commons or noosphere — to deal with the entangled complexities facing us. My assumptions at that time have not changed much to date.

  1. The three organizing forms for society, chronologically — Tribes, Institutions (Governments), Markets — are widely applicable across history.
  2. Each form builds on the other and changes it.
  3. The last form is the dominant form — today that would be the Market form (market volatility today is increasing inequality and turmoil)
  4. A new form is emerging — Networks (Commons)‚ and hence the T+I+M+N model.
  5. This form has also been called the noosphere.
  6. I have found evidence that what initiated each new form was a change in human communication media — T+I (written word), T+I+M (print), T+I+M+N (electric/digital).
  7. I believe we are currently in between a triform (T+I+M) and a quadriform (T+I+M+N) society, which accounts for much of the current political turmoil in our post-modern world.
  8. This model can help inform us how to build better organizational forms for a coming age of entanglement.


the coherent organization

Several years ago, the team at Innovisor asked — Why Do Organizations Led by Women Perform Better?

The new study puzzled Innovisor. Why do organizations led by women perform better?

Since we already established that the women on an individual level were not collaborating more than men, we decided to look somewhere else in our data.
Also because Innovisor had previously established that there was a correlation between organizational coherence and performance.

We decided to look into if organizations led by women were more coherent.

And they were! —Innovisor 2018-07-18

I have noticed similar other indicators, such as the observation that we collectively understand that what are considered ‘feminine’ traits are what leaders need today, as shown in this 2013 Inc. magazine study. (more…)


For over two years we have increasingly seen this term in social and mainstream media — Do Your Own Research (DYOR).

“The words imply a fundamental distrust in authority, and thus a shift to complete self-reliance. In the case of crypto, where there may be rewards but there are definitely massive risks, you should want to rely on your own judgment rather than someone else’s, who might be paid for their endorsement or simply be a fool.” —Ross Dawson 2021-05-31

Ross warns us that that not trusting experts could lead to massive trust issues in society and, “How this plays out will be a fundamental factor in shaping our future society”. I agree.

For the most part, the lack of trust has been brought on by the institutions and those within their hierarchies. Let’s just look at this pandemic and the medical guidance put forth by experts. This has been my sensemaking experience and my journey of doing my own research. (more…)


On the last Friday of each month I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

B of E: The route back to 2% inflation − speech by Michael Saunders

“The share of the 16-64 population who are outside the workforce and do not want a job because of long-term sickness is a record high, with an especially sharp rise among women. I suspect much of this rise in inactivity due to long-term sickness reflects side effects of the pandemic, for example Long Covid and the rise in NHS waiting lists.”

“There’s a saying: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. There’s not one that says: ‘Adequate, properly scheduled time is the mother of invention’. I know. I looked.”@SimonHeath1 (more…)