“diversity trumps ability”

High tolerance for ambiguity is a critical skill as we live and work in increasingly complex, networked environments. Navigating through turbulent times requires the ability to deal with ambiguity by seeking and making sense through a diverse network of connections of people and knowledge. The broader and deeper our connections, the better we can deal with ambiguity. The ability to Seek, Sense & Share in order to handle the complexity of the networked age is not a ‘nice-to-have’ optional approach to professional learning, it is a necessity. A diversity of connections and experiences increases our ability to deal with ambiguity.

[Associate Professor Andrea] Leung found that the advantages of living abroad accrue to those who are willing to adapt themselves to the ways of their host country: “The serendipitous creative benefits resulting from multicultural experiences,” she writes, “may depend on the extent to which individuals open themselves to foreign cultures.” This openness, she adds, includes a tolerance for ambiguity and open-endedness, a lack of closure and firm answers. —Time 2014-04-29


“we have moved to an era of post-ideology”

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@JohnRobb“Significant philanthropic activity is a good indicator that you live in a dysfunctional society.”

@White_Owly“It’s easy to criticise the system after you’ve made enough money from it to last a lifetime.”

@FearDept“In tomorrow’s digital society you will have no rights but the opportunity to earn many privileges.”

@CognitivePolicy “For everyone watching the political satire that has captured so much attention in recent years, ponder what happens when population pressure is too great — and inequality too severe — for any kind of prosocial behaviors to express at scale. You will see hints of worse to come.” (more…)

complex networks of trust

What is innovation? — it is not so much about having ideas as it is about connecting and nurturing ideas.

“History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive collective effort — not just from a narrow group of young white men in California.”Mariana Mazzucato

Markets do not work in isolation from the public sector. Everything is connected. The lone genius does not exist. Networks of trust are what create value for society. (more…)

our common humanity

In the book Blueprint, Nicholas Christakis identified a ‘social suite’ — a range of eight traits that are common among all human societies, though not always manifested in the same way — based on broad historical and anthropological research.

  1. Individual identity
  2. Family love
  3. In-group bias
  4. Friendship
  5. Cooperation
  6. Egalitarianism
  7. Social networks
  8. Social learning

A similar ethnographic study which examined ethics from 60 societies, across over 600 sources found seven universal rules of morality. (more…)

in spite of the stupid

I have frequently said that leadership today is helping make our networks smarter. Much of what we are is a direct effect of who we know and interact with. Our social networks have significant influence on who we are.

“Most of us are already aware of the direct effect we have on our friends and family; our actions can make them happy or sad, healthy or sick, even rich or poor. But we rarely consider that everything we think, feel, do, or say can spread far beyond the people we know. Conversely, our friends and family serve as conduits for us to be influenced by hundreds or even thousands of other people. In a kind of social chain reaction, we can be deeply affected by events we do not witness that happen to people we do not know. It is as if we can feel the pulse of the social world around us and respond to its persistent rhythms. As part of a social network, we transcend ourselves, for good or ill, and become a part of something much larger. We are connected.” —Connected


bots and spam

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

Not in a box. Not with a fox.
Not in a house. Not with a mouse.
I would not [retweet] them here or there.
I would not [retweet] them anywhere.
I would not [retweet the bots and spam].
I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

We give newspapers a free pass by calling them “the tabloid press”, as if the problem is the format. It’s not. The problem is the ownership. We should call them what they are. “The billionaire press”. @GeorgeMonbiot (more…)

we are the internet

I read the The Cluetrain Manifesto online in 1999, and later purchased the book. Even though the authors stated that it was not a business book, it provided a good lens though which to view our networked world at the time. I did not agree with all the theses but the book was still worth it. What I remember most is the first of the 95 theses — “Markets are conversations.”

One of my favourite paragraphs was in the last chapter. “Fact is, we don’t care about business — per se, per diem, au gratin. Given half a chance, we’d burn the whole constellation of obsolete business concepts to the waterline. Cost of sales and bottom lines and profit margins — if you’re a company, that’s your problem. But if you think of yourself as a company, you’ve got much bigger worries. We strongly suggest you repeat the following mantra as often as possible until you feel better: ‘I am not a company. I am a human being’.” (more…)

solving problems together

Most situations at work can be considered from the perspective of — is this a known problem or not? If it’s known, then the answer can be looked up or the best person can be found to deal with it. The answer may even have been automated or outsourced. Known problems require access to the right information to solve them. This information can be mapped, and frameworks such as knowledge management help us to map it. We can also create tools, especially performance support systems to do the work and not have to learn all the background knowledge in order to accomplish the task. This is how complicated knowledge continuously gets automated.

But if it’s a new problem or an exception, then the worker has to deal with it in a unique way. The main job of most knowledge workers is to solve problems and deal with exceptions. Exception-handling is becoming more important in the networked workplace. While software can handle the routine stuff, people — usually working together — are needed to deal with the exceptions. Exceptions require cooperation and collaboration to solve. (more…)

workplace learning — yesterday, today, tomorrow

Ten years ago — workplace learning in 10 years — I wrote that in 2019 much of the workforce will be distributed in time & space as well as in engagement. I also projected that work and learning will continue to blend while stand-up training will be challenged by the ever-present back channel. I predicted that the concept of personal knowledge mastery will have permeated much of the workplace. This last prediction has gained momentum in the past few years.

My first PKM client was Domino’s Pizza, who wanted to add this sensemaking framework to their leadership development program. I later worked with other companies such as Carlsberg and United Cities & Local Governments. Today, we are using the PKM framework to improve collaboration at a global financial corporation. (more…)

mapping stories

This past week I have been reading interview transcripts for a client. After reading several of these 20-page documents it became clear what was able to hold my attention — stories, especially first person accounts. I also remember the stories much better than the general discussions or advice given. One of the simplest definitions of storytelling is by Jonathan Gottschall in The Storytelling AnimalStory = Character + Predicament + Attempted Extrication. (more…)