management must move first

This morning I gave a presentation at the IOM Summit on digital work. My topic was — Digital Work is all about human connections. The key messages are ones that have been presented here.


ninety percent of everything is crap

A friend recently shared an article and the title immediately caught my eye — Personal knowledge management is bullshit. Of course I had to read it. The first line immediately stood out, “Personal Knowledge Management (“PKM”) is a trendy new term for techniques and applications designed to manage information.” I was first introduced to PKM in 2004 by Lilia Efimova and later by Denham Gray and Dave Pollard, all of whom had been writing about it for several years at that point. So I am not sure what the definition of “trendy new term” is in this case.

I shifted to the term personal knowledge mastery in 2014 in order to clarify that PKM for me is removed from traditional Knowledge Management (KM) and that it is a discipline to be mastered through practice. My PKM is not connected to any given technology though I have used several over the years. (more…)

passivity makes no sense

Last year I wrote that this pandemic has become a crisis in network leadership because understanding what domain of complexity we are dealing with is now an essential requirement for decision-makers. At its outbreak the pandemic was chaotic and required immediate action. Developing vaccines went from complex to complicated. Dealing with people and how various groups reacted to the pandemic oscillated between ordered and unordered domains but has been mostly complex. Clear and simple communications can help to avoid confusion, though they have seldom been delivered.

I created a framework for learning in the complex domain, including examples of organizations that are designed to handle complexity and chaos. The image below takes the basic PKM model — with teams in blue, communities in red, and networks in green, along two axes — high & low structure, and low & high abstraction. These are split in half — one for the Complex domain, and the other for the ordered domains (Complicated & Clear). The Chaotic domain has unique conditions and requires a different approach.

There are — at least — two modes for each form required to work and learn. (more…)

an understanding of my confusion

Not only is there a lot of junk online — Sturgeon’s Law states that 90% of everything is crap — but there are active measures against our democracies to promote propaganda and disinformation. It’s not just the Russian troll factories either, but organizations like those funded by the Koch brothers in the USA.

• Hillsdale [College] is a conservative Christian institution with ties to the Trump administration. And the scholars behind the academy — Scott Atlas, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff — are connected to right-wing dark money attacking public health measures.

• in March 2021, the dark money fund DonorsTrust spent nearly $800,000 to spread the narrative that the pandemic’s toll was actually due to government interventions

• In June, Mercatus Center, a libertarian think tank at George Mason University heavily funded by the Koch network, began funding a database run by Emily Oster, an economist who has argued that the drawbacks of school closures outweigh the risks of COVID-19 exposure.

• the Foundation for Economic Education, another Koch-funded nonprofit, claimed that “naive government interventions” were responsible for a rise in global malaria cases and a spike in worldwide poverty.

Such anti-public health intervention narratives have had a lasting impact.

How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On COVID



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.

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction and the distinction between true and false no longer exist.”The Origins of Totalitarianism

“Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge … I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.”Ivan Illich

Why do we call them [public health] “restrictions”, anyway? Do you look at a life-jacket and think “there’s my drowning restriction”?@HalifaxEditor (more…)

dare to un-lead

In Dare to Un-lead: The art of relational leadership in a fragmented world Céline Schillinger shares her personal experiences in several work environments and connects this to a framework of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. For example, Céline discusses her time as the Head of Quality Innovation & Engagement at Sanofi Pasteur and the creation of the Break Dengue global community to fight dengue fever. The book refers to a wide variety of management theorists and organizational development professionals who advocate for more freedom in the workplace.

A movement toward more liberty, equality, and fraternity at work starts, as we have seen, with an individual distancing themselves from a dominant model — one inherited from the past, which has become restrictive and counterproductive — with others eventually electing to do the same. At the beginning, there is personal risk-taking and a sense of both refusal and encouragement, even if this sense only takes the form of a voice in the change-agent’s head telling them “no”, partly in disgust at what is, partly in disbelief at what might be, partly in recognition of the rules and norms that constrain them. In The Rebel, an examination of the development of revolutionary thought, Albert Camus wrote, “I rebel, therefore we exist.” That phrase could sum up the essence of this book.


the power of story

Stories are powerful ways of sharing knowledge

In 2006 while the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was fighting in Afghanistan, Professor Anne Irwin observed how soldiers decompressed and learned through storytelling.

When they are out in the field and return from a patrol, the exhausted soldiers relax together in small, tightly-knit groups – Irwin calls them “nesting circles” – and recount the events of the day or the mission.

Each soldier contributes a story, an anecdote or even a joke, adding stock and spice into what becomes a collective stew of experiences, she said. They also playfully insult each other.

The storytelling not only helps forge the individual identity of each soldier, it builds interpersonal relationships that can have a bearing on how well the unit performs on the battlefield.

“Joking is a big part of it, and teasing,” she said. “It is not abuse. If you have been teased harshly it lets you know that you are part of the group.”

—John Cotter, Canadian Press, July 03, 2006

Even though these soldiers had all been formally trained and had worked and fought together, there was still a need to make sense of their continuing experiences. Informal and social learning can be the glue that helps keep them together during tough times. (more…)

writing at electric speed

In my last post on entangled thinking I referred to how the advent of Print almost 600 years ago changed the face of Europe. In 2006, as I was going through the editing and re-writing process for an academic article, I noted how limiting the print medium is, especially when transferring what was originally a series of blog posts to create the basis of the article. Adding hyperlinks was more natural to me than using the APA format, which I had used for many years, but I now viewed as a relic of a bygone era. What originally changed and flowed on my blog became a piece of static content. As a blog post, my article had built on previous posts and was open to comments and additions. With the print article, it seemed as if my learning process had been frozen in time.

We now have the printed word at electric speed which Marshall McLuhan predicted that —“At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential.” On social media, especially Twitter and other short forms of posting, the written word gets pushed to its limit and reverses to a new form of orality. (more…)

entangled thinking

About 500 years ago a new communications technology came along and changed the face of Europe — print. The Protestant Reformation saw the rise of religious wars, which were later followed by the scientific revolution and The Enlightenment. An age of exploration followed, which brought not just gold and silver to the coffers of Europe, but new foods such as potatoes from the Americas, to fuel the Industrial Revolution. These new foods increased the population and in turn brought about the demise of the indigenous people of the Americas.

Did print help to enable democracy, and is that why the founders of the USA put freedom of the press into their Constitution? If print enabled democracy, will the emerging digital (electric) medium destroy it? Yuval Noah Harari thinks this may be the case, “The main handicap of authoritarian regimes in the 20th century — the desire to concentrate all information and power in one place — may become their decisive advantage in the 21st century.”  (more…)

we are on our own

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia highlights how much we are alone in this world. We have not advanced from the 19th century ideal of the nation state. Organizations that focus on our global common humanity, like the United Nations, have been useless in stopping the carnage in Ukraine. The fact that Russia, or any other country, has a permanent seat on the Security Council underlines the UN’s inherent weakness to deal with belligerent states. The weakness of the global order shows how difficult it will be to deal with the impact of climate change.

Most countries today have lifted public health measures to counter the SARS-CoV-2 airborne viral pandemic. Those people who are at-risk or immunocompromised see first-hand how our institutions and markets will help people deal with the impacts of climate change — they won’t. It has become obvious that we are on our own. (more…)