free cities attract creative individuals

Why have certain cities fostered creativity over time?

“First, the protection of personal and economic freedoms changed the local culture, making it more receptive to innovations and new ideas. Second, the new institutions also changed incentives, through a more meritocratic and inclusive social environment, but also by encouraging works of art and innovations that would enhance the prestige of the city. Third, free cities attracted talented and creative individuals who escaped censorship and persecution elsewhere, and this created role models and facilitated social learning, breeding new generations of innovators.” —VOX 2018-01-06

This study of European city development showed that first the space must be amenable to creative individuals and then people can flourish. This is similar to the conclusions of Eric Weiner in The Geography of Genius who identified diversity, disorder, and discernment as keys to creative genius. (more…)

co-learning is better than marketing

Work is learning, and learning is the work. Marketing, for the most part, is about learning. What’s interesting is that ” … the content developed by most marketing departments is used in less than 7 percent of all buying decisions”, according to McKinsey, as cited in The Hypersocial Organization. So it’s not about the content. It’s all about the human connections.

As the Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) began with its first of 95 theses, “Markets are conversations”. Cluetrain continued with thesis #11 — “People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.” We learn best from each other in trusted relationships. (more…)

friday fuel

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

“The secret of the demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience so they believe they are clever as he.”Karl Kraus

“They are playing a game.
They are playing at not playing a game.
If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
R.D. Laing via @flowchainsensei


sensemaking in a liquid world

The printing press changed the world. It introduced new forms of expression and enabled better and faster information sharing. Print enabled individual interpretation of the bible and resulted in the questioning of the established Christian church and later the Protestant Reformation. Written manuscripts became obsolete luxury items. A new public discourse was enabled by print and the ensuing literacy of more people. Of course the dark sides of printed works include propaganda, jingoism, and xenophobia. (more…)

PKM in action. Part 3

In his book, Never Stop Learning, Bradley Staats describes eight elements that make up ‘dynamic learning’. Here are the highlights from a Knowledge at Wharton interview.

1. “a willingness to try things, have them not work out, but learn from that and move on”
2. “if we don’t focus on the process, we’re never going to get to a good spot”
3. “we should be pulling ourselves back to ask questions”
4. “taking time to reflect and to think”
5. “Recognize this need to not be a poor imitation of others, but to be ourselves to learn”
6. “we need to play to our strengths”
7. specialization & variety — “we have a depth of knowledge in certain topics” but “we’re also willing to appreciate breadth”
8. “Others educate us and provide valuable knowledge”

As Staats describes WHAT we need to do, personal knowledge mastery is a framework that describes HOW to never stop learning. For example, here is how François Lavallée describes his personal process. (more…)

hoary myths and mindfulness

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

“It is sobering to realize that words written long ago in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, based on opinion, intuition, and prejudice, can so overwhelmingly outweigh scientific observational evidence and the logic and language of mathematics.”Geoffrey West

‘My father always told me, “Son, make sure you always align on what buzzwords the high level thought leaders are utilizing to operationalize excellence throughout the organization.”‘@MeetingBoy

My old man (84) is coming down from Scotland by train — he can get a deal in 1st class, cheaper than 2nd Class — but says “You never meet anyone interesting in First Class …” He has a point.@DonaldClark

Critical Thinking: “Misology is the fear or hatred of knowledge, rational thought and argumentation. Agnotology is the cultural production of ignorance. Both problems seem to be getting worse.” —via @telliowkuwp

leadership beyond capitalism

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.” —Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Our families and local communities keep us connected, but they can make us myopic. Our outward view from here can be as binary as ‘Us and Them’. Millennia ago, with the new technology of the written word, we were able to form ways of organizing society on a larger scale with institutions like kingdoms, religions, and later nation states — reducing tribal rivalries but too often creating cross-national conflicts. Later, markets and trading were extended with the printed word, and trade helped to reduce conflict in order to increase profits. Currently the market form dominates, to the detriment of society as a whole, as the profit motive in the long run will impoverish the earth. For example, Canada tried to use the market to handle its waste, which has recently backfired. We need new ways to deal with global issues, and neither an institutional nor a market approach can deal with them. (more…)

more than re-skilling

Here is the advice of the co-founder of Degreed on a ‘workplace self-training paradigm‘.

First, encourage them to think of reskilling as a game — one they now have more control over winning …

Next, help workers manage their skills with regular checkups to evaluate their current expertise against market conditions …

Finally, work with employees to pinpoint opportunities to put their new skills into action.

It reminded me of advice that Lilia Efimova gave fifteen years ago — on which I based I my own PKM framework — which is a broader approach to workplace learning than merely looking at work from a training or re-skilling perspective. (more…)

PKM in action. Part 2

In PKM in Action Part 1 I gave a few examples of how people practice personal knowledge mastery. A good way of looking at PKM is as a method to improve serendipity, or fortuitous chance encounters. Anne Adrian shared her journey of going online to seek, make sense, and to share knowledge.

“Yet, the most important development of being online and placing myself in unlikely circles is where I have gained the most value … Hearing diversity in thought can give clarity. Listening and conversing with people who are not like me and who think differently than I and who have many different experiences helps me grow in understanding … Putting myself into places (online and physical places) where serendipitous discoveries can happen is not efficient, and of course, cannot be planned. Serendipity helped me discover people, concepts, and ideas that I would have never known before. Relationships–online, physical, mixed, new and old–and time and space are not easily planned. Serendipity does not map to set goals or plans. Instead serendipity has surprised me with energy, thoughts, knowledge, ideas, concepts, realizations, experiences, and relationships.”

Two of my regular practices are simple but add value over time — my book reviews and my Friday’s Finds. The former are my impressions of books that I have found interesting, useful, or inspiring. I only write positive reviews, so many of the books I have read do not get a review. Friday’s Finds are my bi-weekly summaries of interesting things I have found online and now comprise more than a decade of searchable resources on a wide variety of subjects. Both book reviews and resource summaries are something anyone can do. PKM practices do not have to be difficult. (more…)

PKM in action. Part 1

Getting started with a sensemaking practice can be daunting. While the Seek > Sense > Share framework is simple to understand, putting it into an everyday context can be difficult. Let’s get some advice from people who have been using the personal knowledge mastery conceptual model. For example, Nadia von Holzen likens seeking to fishing, sensemaking to cooking, and sharing to inviting people to dinner. It’s a great metaphor. (more…)