sensemaking in turbulence

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

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence — it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” —Peter Drucker

“Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.”Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook (more…)

working smarter 2020

In 2010 we conducted a project to cultivate a fully engaged, high performing workforce through rapid, collaborative, informal, & self-directed learning at a US-based health insurance company of about 20,000 employees. It is summarized in the working smarter case study.

Jump ahead a decade and similar issues continue to face large organizations.

My recent client challenge in 2019/2020 can be summed up as — How do you improve collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and sensemaking in a much larger globally distributed company? (more…)

walking the leadership talk

I was a speaker at Amazon’s Global Learning Day in 2016 and one thing that struck me was how often one of the 14 principles of leadership would crop up in regular conversations I had during my three days in Seattle. As this event was focused on learning, someone made up stickers for principle #5 — Learn and Be Curious.

“This is perhaps the most important Amazon leadership principle as it sets the foundation of the entire business structure. Leaders are never satisfied with their product, the word, ‘perfect’ is not in their dictionary. It’s curiosity which helps them to achieve new feats. They are never done learning and always look to improve themselves. They are curious to know all the possibilities and acts to explore them. They are never satisfied at any point in their business development which makes them interesting. Some example questions from amazon leadership principles in this regard are: Tell me about a time when you:

Solved a problem through just greater knowledge or observation?
Influenced a change by only asking questions?
Went through that changed your way of thinking?
Curiosity helped you make a smarter decision?


Tell me about the most significant and imperative lesson you learned in the past year from your experience?”
Louis Carter


six ways to make sense

One of the big consultancies is promoting ‘six ways’ to make sense of these complex times, or words to that effect. If you believe you are getting leading-edge thinking from these types of businesses, think again. Here is a story about a major consulting company, from one of its own.

“Despite having no work or research experience outside of MIT, I was regularly advertised to clients as an expert with seemingly years of topical experience relevant to the case. We were so good at rephrasing our credentials that even I was surprised to find in each of my cases, even my very first case, that I was the most senior consultant on the team …

I got the feeling that our clients were simply trying to mimic successful businesses, and that as consultants, our earnings came from having the luck of being included in an elaborate cargo-cult ritual. In any case it fell to us to decide for ourselves what question we had been hired to answer, and as a matter of convenience, we elected to answer questions that we had already answered in the course of previous cases — no sense in doing new work when old work will do.” —The Tech 2010-04-09

Is this what clients really want? (more…)

nursing care performance analysis case study

This was a presentation I gave to the Canadian Society for Training and Development in 2005.

e-Learning and Communities of Practice in Healthcare

During 2003 to 2004, we worked with a Montreal area hospital to implement online learning for nurses as they adopted the new McGill nursing care methodology, as well as the creation of virtual communities of practice for social workers. From the initial performance analyses conducted on the hospital wards, to the implementation of the open source Moodle and Mambo technology systems, the consultants worked closely with the hospital staff in the development of their knowledge base, using domain ontologies.

  • Learn about the need to conduct a performance analysis prior to recommending any e-learning intervention

  • Learn how ontologies can help with the creation of shared professional knowledge bases

  • Learn about the benefits of using open source software for workplace performance support


a breath of fresh air

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

“Yes. It’s really only since wireless networks got fast enough to stream pictures to portable devices that everything changed, & enabled each individual person to live twenty-four/ seven in their own personalized hallucination stream.” ―Neal Stephenson, Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell

We’re in a guerrilla information war and everyone is a participant.

Here are pertinent rules that apply to the current moment —

a) every single physical event, is won or lost online.

b) this is an asymmetric conflict.

c) you can’t participate if you can’t connect.


retrieving the cooperative imperative

The biggest challenges facing us today are climate change and environmental degradation. The current pandemic is a symptom of these situations. These are complex issues without simple answers or explanations, because with complex problems the relationship between cause and effect is only seen after the fact. As H.L Mencken stated, “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” Thinking in terms of neat and plausible answers only feeds the post-truth machines.

The best way forward is through cooperation and the engagement of a diverse set of human abilities. Cooperation is freely sharing among equals in order to benefit the greater whole. Hierarchies, such as those found in most institutions and organizations are useless in the face of complexity. As Yaneer Bar-Yam explains in Complexity Rising, hierarchies have diminishing usefulness as complexity increases. (more…)

overcome by events

I wrote the following in 2009 —

Workplace learning in 2019

  • Much of the workforce will be distributed in time & space as well as in engagement (part-time, full-time, contract mix).
  • More learning will be do-it-yourself and gathered from online digital resources available for free and fee. More workers will be used to getting what they need as they change jobs/contracts more frequently but remain connected to their online networks (online/offline won’t matter anymore).
  • Work and learning will continue to blend while stand-up training will be challenged by the ever-present back channel. Successful training programs will involve the learners much more – before, during and after.
  • Conferences, workshops and on-site training will become more niche and fragmented (smaller,  focused & connected online) as travel costs increase and workers become more demanding of their time.
  • The notion of PKM will have permeated much of the workplace
  • These changes will not be evenly distributed.


moving beyond training

Working smarter means that everyone in an organization learns from experience and shares with their colleagues as part of their work. Training is not enough — see the missing half of training. We cannot know in advance and prepare formal instruction for everything that people need to learn on the job today.

The 70:20:10 framework shows that learning at work is based, generally, on these ratios:

  • 70% from Experience
  • 20%: from Exposure
  • 10% from formal Education


an assumption of knowledge

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

“Word of the day is ‘sequaciousness’ (17th century): the blinkered, unreasoning, and slavish following of another, no matter where it leads.”@suzie_dent

“As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” —Albert Einstein

“What we learned in 2020? That oil is worthless in a society without consumption. That healthcare has to be public because health is public. That 50% of jobs can be done from home while the other 50% deserve more than they’re being paid. That we live in a society, not an economy.” @mhdksafa (more…)