prisoners of our own device

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

“We simply ask that you be innovative without mistakes while working as a team to achieve individual performance goals.”@DocOnDev

“Here’s a helpful logic tree to decide if work should be paid or unpaid:
Is work performed?
Yes – Paid
No – Unpaid
Hope that helps.”

@WeLearnedToday“Students only learn when they have a good relationship with a teacher. Stronger relationship = more learning.”
@hjarche (me) — So having one bad teacher for a whole year in elementary school can be devastating to a child. That child is basically in prison.
@CMWRawcliffe“Yup. I’d say a teacher in my son’s first year at school affected his confidence in his learning for the next 9 years. His personality changed in his first term. I queried that and was told ‘boys find school hard’ by the person keeping him prisoner. Horrid.” (more…)

horses for courses

The phrase comes, of course, from horse racing. Some horses are good at boggy ground, some prefer the going to be firm underfoot. Put the right horse on the right track, and they will prevail. This neat rhyme proved to be so popular around racetracks that it took on a life of its own, with the first recorded use being in 1898, and even by then it was fairly well established. —BBC America

The statistician George Box said that — essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful — I have to say that some very useful models have helped me in my work. The 70:20:10 model is a useful model I have used for many projects.  (more…)

nature favours large social groups that network their information

Knowing how to get the answers you need is more important than storing those answers in your head, especially with the shorter lifespan of knowledge these days. What you find when you look something up is probably current. What you already know is more and more likely to be out of date.

A vital meta-learning skill: how to find the answer you need, online or off.

Jay Cross (2006)

Knowledge is evolving faster than can be codified in formal systems and is depreciating in value over time. One of the ways to deal with this knowledge explosion is to use what we have — our humanity. We have developed as social animals and our brains are wired to deal with social relationships. By combining technology with our brainpower, we can figure things out. We are naturally creative and curious. (more…)

trust emerges over time

Imagine a research-intensive organization where scientists should be sharing what they learn, and the official company policy is to share information and expertise among public and private partners. However, the company is ‘downsizing’ and layoffs are based on performance reviews. If one scientist helps a peer develop a patented product, and as a result the peer gets a better annual review, then the former may end up losing their job during the next round of layoffs. This was the situation I found myself in a decade ago.

Sharing knowledge was not a good personal strategy in this work environment even though it was official policy and was the focus of our project. We could not achieve our project objectives because systemic barriers pitted workers against each other in order to remain employed.

In this case, financial rewards for patents impeded learning, and in the end halted any knowledge sharing. In complex systems, the solutions are never simple, but our only hope is learning how to learn better and faster — individually, in teams, as an enterprise, and as a society. If we want to promote learning through knowledge sharing we should first look at what is blocking it. (more…)

fishing through the noise

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

Historical Note: On 19 February 2004, states of emergency were declared in Atlantic Canada after a prolonged blizzard, later named White Juan, dumped as much as 100 centimetres of snow. Many roads were impassable, blocked with snow drifts of up to 4 metres. On that same day, 17 years ago, I started this blog.

“If you give someone a fish they’ll eat for a day. But if you teach someone to conduct workshops on how hungry people can practice self-care then you dodge the question of why people are hungry while also cutting the fish budget and the savings can be passed on to the shareholders.”@n_hold (more…)

Working Smarter Field Guide

Note: The Working Smarter with PKM Field Guide is available as a PDF. Here it is as a web page.


Working Smarter with Personal Knowledge Mastery

The Changing Nature of Human Work

For the past several centuries we have used human labour to do what machines cannot. First the machines caught up with us and surpassed humans with their brute force. Now they are surpassing us with their brute intelligence. There is not much more need for machine-like human work which is routine, standardized, or brute. But certain long-term skills can help us connect with our fellow humans in order to learn and innovate — curiosity, sensemaking, cooperation, and novel thinking. (more…)

subject matter networks

We live in a networked world. Is it even possible for one person to have sufficient expertise to understand a complex situation such as this pandemic? So do we rely on one subject matter expert or rather a subject matter network?

I have noted many discrepancies between advice from our Chief Medical Officer of Health as opposed to a network of experts who I follow on Twitter. Our CMOH has been responsible for producing some of the most complicated public health guidelines and even our local CBC radio station staff could not come to an understanding of the concept of a ‘steady ten’ — Do these circles overlap? How long can they last? What about children going to school in contact with others? Talking with other people I have noticed that everyone interprets it differently. This is a failure to communicate. (more…)

a decade of digital transformation

With a focus on improving collaboration, sensemaking, and knowledge sharing in teams, communities and networks, I have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of clients.

Ten years ago I tried to convince senior federal public servants of the importance of social media and how they would have to change their relationship with citizens. This presentation fell on deaf years. I had much more success working with Dominos in incorporating personal knowledge mastery into their leadership training.

Other companies like Cigna, AstraZeneca, and ING Bank were open to changing their approach to supporting learning in the workflow and enabling cross-departmental cooperation. Carlsberg added PKM and social learning to their year-long global leadership program. More recently I worked with Citi to develop a global social learning program based on PKM. (more…)

the moral minority

The elites in charge of organizations and institutions like to think they take into account the opinions of experts, but as this pandemic has shown, that is often not the case. The pandemic response in many countries is political, not guided by the best public health knowledge.

“On any particular issue, people at the bottom can usually claim the most expertise; they know their job best. And when someone at the top has to make a difficult decision, they usually prefer to justify it via reference to recommendations from below. They are just following the advice of their experts, they say. But of course they lie; people at the top often overrule subordinates … Elites like to pretend they were selected for being experts at something, and they like to pretend their opinions are just reflecting what experts have said (“we believe the science!”). But they often lie; elite opinion often overrules expert opinion, especially on topics with strong moral colors.” —Overcoming Bias

If there is a moral aspect to the decision, elites feel even more justified in their decisions for doing the ‘right’ thing in spite of contrary evidence. (more…)

connect, challenge, create

Education won’t counter populism — changing education might

Slovakia’s president, Zuzana Caputova, was elected in March 2019, and surprisingly showed a way out of the populist quagmire that many countries find themselves in. The tribal affiliations retrieved by the previous corrupt government, particularly via social media, were what Caputova had to counter in order to get elected.

She addressed these tribes not by creating a new tribe, but by discounting the tribal perspective and focusing on the population’s common humanity instead. In this case, it worked. Understanding The Laws of Media, especially the retrieval quadrant gives us a tool to counter the negative effects — or potential reversal — of new technologies like social media. This is real media literacy. (more…)