power, sex, laws, and empathy

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

Leadership is a serious meddling in the lives of others. Managers/leaders with poor self-awareness and not knowing how their behaviour affects staff do not get the best out of their teams.”@shauncoffey

Was humanity simply not ready for the internet? via @monk51295

No matter how stupid and powerless we have been led to think of ourselves, we have at our fingertips — in our pockets, even — access to the near-totality of human knowledge and capacity.

It’s not too late to rise to this occasion. Omniscience requires good filtering. We may have gotten access to every piece of real and fake information ever produced but without the ability to discriminate between them. We got the intimacy of universal connectivity but without social skills to navigate it. We got perfect memory but without the necessary corresponding compassion for one another’s past missteps and failures.


the workflow of learning

I was asked today about my sensemaking routine. I try not to talk too much about how I do things because I believe that a practice — like personal knowledge mastery — has to be personal, or it will not last. But perhaps I can give some details to help others find there own way. The question was asked during the current PKM Workshop and the next one starts on 13 January 2020.

One of the things I’m trying to figure out is the most efficient workflow for moving from reading >> notes >> sensemaking >> drafts >> publishing articles. Right now, the pieces feel really disconnected for me, and I don’t see many people talking about their process in detail.

In my own case, I collect (seek) information through my social networks and then collate them in my social bookmarks or my blog posts, especially my Friday’s Finds. These blog posts over time may get connected into longer articles or updated posts. Since 2014 I have written e-books which are edited and revised collections of blogs posts. I write about one a year now, with the latest in December 2018 — Life in Perpetual Beta. Small pieces gradually become bigger ones and then some may congregate as more polished works. For me, it is easier to write smaller pieces, and then later connect and edit them into a coherent framework and story. But as they say in automobile advertising — your mileage may vary.


seeing the value of cooperation

Nancy Dixon tells a wonderful story about ‘Researcher’s Square’ and the hallway of learning. The whole story is well worth your time. It describes how a diverse group of mostly independent researchers who worked in their individual offices were able to cooperate and even collaborate due to a change in the built architecture. A central hallway was placed in the middle of 20 offices so that everyone had to 1) use the same café area, and 2) use the only available large table & whiteboard, which were visible to everyone, for group meetings. In addition, copies of everyone’s published research was on display in this central area. While most researchers felt this would not change their work behaviours, it did. (more…)

paying for online freedom

Back in 2007 I suggested that the first step to take in online sensemaking is to free your bookmarks. Social bookmarks reside online, not in your browser, so they can be accessed from multiple devices and easily shared. My own journey went from Furl, to Magnolia, to Delicious, and most recently to Diigo. Today I decided it was time to make another move — to Pinboard. This is a paid service and adds to several others that I now pay for, such as 1Password, Fastmail, Zoom, and Tweetbot.

Paying for online services makes for a healthier web, in my opinion. It means that service providers are not motivated to sell advertising and/or user tracking. A recent thread on Twitter by the founder of Pinboard gave me the impetus for this move. It was about the flawed business model of Medium, a ‘free’ blog hosting site that I used for a short time and then left. (more…)

mapping healthcare

This past year my wife and I have spent a fair bit of time in hospitals and doctors’ offices, helping friends navigate the healthcare system. One thing we have noticed is the siloed nature of medicine here. When you get limited time with a healthcare professional and they have limited time to get up to date on the patient, a lot of information and context slips through the cracks. Add in the fact that many of these professionals do not regularly communicate with each other, and the patient becomes responsible for closing these gaps. This is impossible with patients suffering from dementia or other cognitive challenges. In addition, many family members do not know what information is important and are not able to be effective patient advocates. For example, some information — such as the recent death of a spouse — does not get transmitted and the physician’s diagnosis is based only on the visible symptoms as presented at the time.

This example reminded me of a project we did for a healthcare client in 2004. We conducted an elearning and community of practice initiative for a hospital system as part of the transition to a new nursing care model — from the Henderson to the McGill model. The Province of Québec (healthcare is the responsibility of each Province in Canada) was moving from a patient-centric to a learning-centric nursing framework. As part of our project, we developed software for visual mapping to support the standard patient charts and records. The software was used to create visual models of the patient’s family (genogram) and the patient’s community relationships (ecomap). (more…)

from tweets to the blog

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

When Francis Harwood, anthropologist, asked a Sioux elder why people tell stories, he answered, “In order to become human beings.” She asked, “Aren’t we human beings already? He smiled, “Not everyone makes it.”Laura Simms, via @SophiaCycles1

First they said they needed data about the children to find out what they’re learning. Then they said they needed data about the children to make sure they are learning. Then the children only learnt what could be turned into data. Then the children became data.@MichaelRosenYes

“If you worked every single day, making $5000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. No one works for a billion dollars.”@_Floodlight

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that the post-industrial revolution will be a moral revolution, or it will not be at all.@EskoKilpi (more…)

reflecting on the future of knowledge

I started my independent consulting practice in 2003 and one of the first books I purchased was — The Future of Knowledge: Increasing Prosperity through Value Networks by Verna Allee (2002) Butterworth-Heinemann (ISBN: 0750675918). The topic of value network analysis and the leading role that Verna Allee played came up in some recent discussions in one of my online communities of practice. So I decided to re-read the book that planted so many ideas in my mind. Here are some of the highlights, almost 20 years after Verna started writing The Future of Knowledge.


One of the primary requirements for supporting knowledge work is to ensure that people have the tools and information they need to complete their everyday tasks. But, another equally important goal is to provide appropriate technologies for collaborative work in a complex global environment. The more complex modes of knowledge cannot be turned over to databases and automation. They are accomplished by people through active and immediate conversation and interchanges. Connective technologies enable us to link up with our peers so that we may weave the threads of our understanding together into new synthesis and insights.


the relationship era

“In the agrarian age of the 19th century, when schools meant one-room rural schoolhouses, teaching morality and morals and character was all important. That’s because society needed, and so demanded, good moral character.”Nineshift

Not so long ago “gee’ was an offensive word in the USA. It was considered to be short for Jesus. But a focus on morality shifted to a focus on responsibility, as we entered the factory era, where timeliness was necessary to keep the machines moving. We are nearing the end of this era, but its influence is still in our schools.

So today “responsibility” means:
* Being present, not absent.
* Showing up on time.
* Handing in your homework on time.


more on meetings

I listened to a podcast recently where Steven Rogelberg was interviewed about his 2019 book — The Surprising Science of Meetings. I think that meetings are prime areas of opportunity for workplace performance improvement. For example, optimizing meetings can make time for learning. So I reviewed Rogelberg’s web page that provides links to podcasts, interviews, and references in various media. Here are some of the highlights.

Why meetings?

“In many ways, meetings are the building blocks and core elements of our organizations. They are the venues where the organization comes to life for employees, teams, and leaders.”Steven Rogelberg

Meeting managers

“The people who love meetings are the managers who run them.”Quartz 2019

“In 1973, Canadian business management expert Henry Mintzberg was among the first to examine the problem [frustrations with meetings]. His book ‘The Nature of Managerial Work’ found that more than half of managers’ time in his sample was spent in meetings.”CNBC 2015

Making meetings better


making time for learning

For over a decade I have promoted the idea that work is learning & learning is the work. It seems the idea has now gone mainstream, as it’s even noted in Forbes that, “Work and learning will become analogous”. It is much easier to just say that workflow learning is essential rather than putting in the structures and practices that can enable it. There are many structural barriers to learning in the workplace that have been established and embedded over the past century. (more…)