liberating meetings

In meetings, bloody meetings I covered some common issues with how meetings are conducted and also provided some ways to address these. Another form is the silent meeting, put forth by David Gasca at Twitter and used at Amazon as well. These meetings are based on the common phenomena that most attendees do not read material in advance and that a slideshow is not the best way to convey complex information. Instead, a ‘table-read’ narrative of not more than 6 pages is presented at the meeting and attendees start by silently reading this document.

This type of silent meeting requires:

  1. An agenda — includes goals, non-goals, suggested timetable, & if a note-taker is needed.
  2. The ‘Table Read’ — the main source of discussion, commenting, & reflection.
  3. A facilitator to synthesize comments & lead discussions.
  4. Commenting silently & then reading others’ comments before engaging in discussion.


hybrid sailors

According to The Atlantic 2019-07, the US Navy has been piloting a new way of manning its Littoral Combat class ships, which are modular by design. The crew are all multi-purpose, with several roles onboard and always learning new tasks. They operate with one-fifth the crew size of a regular ship. Specialization is a thing of the past for these crews. One reason for this is that specialized knowledge has an increasingly shorter lifespan, so generalists who are good learners can make for a more flexible, or agile, crew. This approach also has its downsides, such as fewer redundant positions onboard to mitigate combat losses, and lack of deep knowledge for some complex problems.

The key question from the article is whether this is the way of the future. Is a neo-generalist a better fit for modern workplace conditions? It’s a good question that will only be answered with time.

“Minimal manning—and the evolution of the economy more generally—requires a different kind of worker, with not only different acquired skills but different inherent abilities. It has implications for the nature and utility of a college education, for the path of careers, for inequality and employability—even for the generational divide. And that’s to say nothing of its potential impact on product quality and worker safety, or on the nature of the satisfactions one might derive from work.”—The Atlantic


mindful finds

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

“A writer ought not to be an opinion-machine … The job of the writer is to make us see the world as it is, full of many different claims and parts and experiences.”Susan Sontag

‘Apple: “privacy™️(TM) is a luxury good”
Facebook: “privacy = private comms (terms & conditions may apply)”
Google: “we need strong privacy laws that prevent third-party cookies & tracking because we are the first and only party (and we already have all your data)’
@hackeylawyer (more…)

sixteen years

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
Sixteen Tons

Last week marked sixteen years as a freelancer. I was traveling and I don’t blog much when I am on the road. I focus on spending time with and talking to people. Home is where I reflect and write. (more…)

our mediated lives

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

Can we all please stop using Medium now?

“Just so we are clear. Medium takes your content, rolls it up into a pretty SEO friendly package for themselves and sells it. Oh, and turns us all into seals waiting for someone to throw us a fish in the process. If you are lucky, you might even get a cut. You know. Like the sort of cut artists get on Spotify. Profit share I think the cool kids call it.”

The Atlantic — Social Media Are Ruining Political Discourse

“The politics of flow likely will continue to redefine political discourse in our country. Flow makes video games and social-media sites more engaging, but the phenomenon might already have refashioned political discourse and permanently changed the institutions that depend on reasoned debate. And yet, flow’s engagement is so gratifying for so many, it’s difficult to let it go. Even if the public decided that the civic costs of social media outweigh the private pleasures, it might be too late, and too hard, to turn back. If it triumphs, the best we can hope for is a new breed of media-savvy AOCs with good ideas—and a sensitivity to the cost of expressing them in social-media form.”


the status quo

In understanding the shift, I wrote that as we make this transition — from a market-dominated to a network-dominated society — the confusion of post-modernism clouds our vision of a positive future. The traditional political Right wants to go back to the Pre-modern Era — dogmatic, faith, truth — while the traditional political Left wants to stay in the Modern Era — doubting, science, facts. However, the way ahead is to a Meta-modern Era — seeking, knowledge, combining. This new path may be the most difficult because creating a status quo is more difficult than maintaining an existing one. (more…)

status update on society

Many of the changes we face today are similar to a time when 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 and colonialism followed, which brought not just gold and silver to the coffers of Europe, but new foods such as potatoes, to fuel the Industrial Revolution.

Today the world is dealing with another new communications technology — electric, now in its digital form. It too is and will continue to change a now globally connected society. These changes continue, with the concurrent challenges of natural resource depletion, pollution, over-population, and the effects of climate change. We are now all members of Marshall McLuhan’s “global village”. What happens in one remote location can be felt across the world through our collective digital nervous system. Our senses are overwhelmed.

The impact of the electric revolution, which started with the telegraph, are now evident and reactions vary across societies and cultures. For example, new technologies and scientific breakthroughs show great promise while these new discoveries put into question older scientific work. This is a natural process for scientists but this can be jarring for citizens, many of whom seek solace in certainty from those selling easy answers, such as anti-vaxxers or homeopathic healers. We humans have difficulties dealing with complex answers. (more…)

a decade of finds

I started Friday’s Finds in May 2009 as an attempt to capture what I was finding on Twitter, as I had joined that platform in December 2007. I felt that I was making a lot of connections but at that time it was difficult to search and retrieve tweets.  So I started curating weekly compilations. After a few years these became fortnightly and remain so. Next week marks 10 years of my Friday’s Finds. I now have a decade of links and references that I have found to be of professional or personal interest. I often search these in my ongoing research or for client work. They add to my social bookmarks on Diigo. Last year I compiled a list of the best finds of 2018. You can also go back and see what were the best finds of 2013.

Here are some finds from the previous fourteen nights [a fortnight].

@GeorgeMonbiot “If you asked me: ‘which industry presents the greatest environmental threat, oil or media?’, I would say ‘the media’. Every day it misdirects us. Every day it tells us that issues of mind-numbing irrelevance are more important than the collapse of our life support systems.” (more…)

narcissists at work

The following series of tweets by @HoarseWisperer is an incredibly good examination of how people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) control those who work for them. I am sure many of us have witnessed similar behaviours in toxic workplaces. Naming and understanding these behaviours can help us deal with them. I have expanded some abbreviations and highlighted what I think is the key insight. (more…)

What is innovation?

In writing almost 100 posts on innovation since 2007, it’s time to put the core observations together into a cohesive narrative. Here goes.

Innovation is fifteen different things to fifteen different people.

“An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.”OECD

The Learning Link

As Marina Gorbis concludes in The Nature of the Future, “much new value and innovation will move from commodity-or-market-based production to socialstructed creation.” Innovation today is people making connections. Innovation is dependent on learning in networks. Social learning is about getting things done in networks. It is a constant flow of listening, observing, doing, and sharing. Effective working in networks requires cooperation, meaning there is no fixed plan, structure, or direct feedback. Through social learning we can co-develop emergent practices. Social learning is how we move from transactions to relationships and foster knowledge mobilization.

Innovation is inextricably linked to both networks and learning.  Innovation is not so much about having ideas as it is about connecting and nurturing ideas. Tim Kastelle says that, “Innovation is the process of idea management.” Effective knowledge networks are composed of unique individuals working on common challenges, together for a discrete period of time before the network shifts its focus again. The network enables infinite combinations between unique nodes. For example, better connections enabled a high school student to create a better cancer diagnostic tool. Connected discoveries will be the hallmark of the network era.

The connection between innovation and learning is evident and we cannot be innovative unless we integrate learning into our work. It sounds easy, but it’s a major cultural change because it questions some common assumptions about work —

  1. A JOB can be described as a series of competencies that can be ‘filled’ by the best qualified person.
  2. Somebody in a classroom, separate from the work environment, can ‘teach’ you about a job requirement.
  3. The higher you are on the organization chart, the more you know.