constant outrage

Many of us are getting depressed and pessimistic about  the state of society, whether it be the big one — climate change — or the many smaller problems facing us — populism, extremism, anti-science movements, xenophobia, etc. One of the biggest frustrations is that the various camps just do not talk to each other with any intention of understanding. In addition, social media — the preferred source of news for many people — tend to increase the outrage. The medium is the message, said Marshall McLuhan, and this medium is all about emotion. Often, our self-perception of knowledge acquired through social media is greater than it actually is. Social media have created a worldwide Dunning-Kruger effect. (more…)

beyond government and markets

The key to our transformation toward a network society is citizen sensemaking. The thinking that got us into our current state of affairs will not get us out. Hierarchical leadership, even in democratic governments, is inadequate for the complexity of a networked society. Our governments seem to be completely unprepared to regulate surveillance capitalism, let alone climate change. Leadership on these issues is coming from outside government and in spite of the market. “We want leadership distributed because this is too much weight even for the mightiest of us.”Jennifer Sertl. A new form of cooperative leadership is needed today. It is emerging.

What network organizational models can we develop to address complex global issues? One local/global example is an initiative to adapt our forests to climate change, connecting governments with the market, through a non-profit — Community Forests International. One of the biggest climate change initiatives is being led by a 16-year old student from Sweden — Greta Thunberg. Now is the time to continue experimenting with new models, such as platform cooperativism.

My focus for over a decade has been to help people learn together. I have been a champion of social learning and developed the personal knowledge mastery framework to help people learn in networks, communities, and at work. The reason that learning is the work today is that our existing organizations and institutions do not have the answers. We have to create new ways to address what governments and the market cannot. First we have to be able to describe and discuss them. This kind of learning — making sense of our collective condition — has been ignored by schools and institutions. There is no curriculum to prepare us. (more…)

self-perception of knowledge

Sensemaking does not have to be a complicated affair. I have recently had several conversations with people who have simplified their sensemaking processes — using fewer tools and streamlining processes — quite often accepting the fact they won’t capture everything. I have described personal knowledge mastery made simple to show that you can start without having to learn a whole bunch of practices and procedures. A core part of PKM is adding value — for yourself, and others. If you are not adding value, you are making noise.

It seems that social media are influencing how people read, especially when viewing links and summaries in a news feed. My own experience is that only 0.04% of people who view my Tweets on Twitter click on the link to read the full article. It is reported that 67% of Americans get their news from social media, particularly Facebook [I am not on Facebook], however — (more…)

unintended consequences

“Welcome to Magic School. Here is your schedule.”
“Thanks! But…”
“This is just ‘Ethics’ and ‘Human rights’ and things like that.”
“Correct, that’s the first year curriculum.”
“Do we have to learn all this?”
“Of course! What do you think this is, software engineering?”

  • Some unintended consequences of automobiles are pollution, gridlock, and manslaughter.
  • An unintended consequence of using cement as our primary building material is large CO2 emissions.
  • An unintended consequence of Facebook is false narratives.
  • An unintended consequence of consumer social media platforms is a surveillance economy.
  • An unintended consequence of a digitally mediated society is constant outrage.
  • An unintended consequence of online services like Über is “low-paying work that deliver on-demand servant services to rich people“.


applied imagination

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

@RitaJKing“I advocate for calling AI applied imagination instead of artificial intelligence. We need to start thinking.”

@LynnBoyden“Why is there no place in any car for me to put my purse?”

@WhiteOwl“We think we design jobs for organisations but really we design organisations for jobs.”

@MayaDrøschler“I heard two scientists on the radio discussing men’s and women’s shame. Men’s shame is about being weak, women’s shame is about not being likable. Men must be strong and protective to escape their shame, women must be nice and popular. Both men & women reinforce this structure.”

@rhappe“Why do we need arts, writing, & history education? Because it requires making decisions in ambiguity. Where do I focus? What do I leave out? When am I done? This is a critical skill in a world of information abundance, it requires practice, & it is the only way to make progress.” (more…)

learning as disservice

It is time to revive an insightful comment by a friend and inspiration, David Jonassen — as his Wikipedia entry says, Dave wrote about “learning with media, not from it”.

“Every amateur epistemologist knows that knowledge cannot be managed. Education has always assumed that knowledge can be transferred and that we can carefully control the process through education. That is a grand illusion.” —David Jonassen

Knowledge is personal. Knowledge is human. Knowledge cannot be managed. (more…)

we don’t need another hero

People in leadership positions are very busy — too busy it seems.

“CEOs attend an endless stream of meetings, each of which can be totally different from the one before and the one that follows. Their sheer number and variety is a defining feature of the top job. On average, the leaders in our study had 37 meetings of assorted lengths in any given week and spent 72% of their total work time in meetings.” —HBR 2018-07

But being busy makes them feel important — perhaps even heroic.

“Many of us can get caught up acting like heroes, not from power drives, but from our good intentions and desires to help. Are you acting as a hero? Here’s how to know. You’re acting as a hero when you believe that if you just work harder, you’ll fix things; that if you just get smarter or learn a new technique, you’ll be able to solve problems for others. You’re acting as a hero if you take on more and more projects and causes and have less time for relationships. You’re playing the hero if you believe that you can save the situation, the person, the world.” —Margaret Wheatley

As Margaret Wheatley states, “Heroic leadership rests on the illusion that someone can be in control.” But we don’t need heroes, we need learners. (more…)

toward a network society

Our current triform society is based on families/communities, a public sector, and a private market sector. But this form, dominated by Markets is unable to deal with the complexities we face globally — climate change, pollution, populism/fanaticism, nuclear war, etc. A quadriform society would be primarily guided by the Network form of organizing. We are making some advances in that area but we still have challenges getting beyond nation states and financial markets. (more…)

we all need an inner circle

Work has always been about who you know, more than what you know. That’s why the rich and powerful send their children to elite schools. It’s not about the education but rather the connections. We still fool ourselves that a capitalist economy is a meritocracy — which any marginalized group can attest is false. However, the emerging network era and its democratization of media is giving voice to more of these groups.

I have advocated for retrieving gender balance in our organizations as the controlled linearity of the written and printed word — patriarchal in their essence — will be obsolesced by the connected, electric medium. This connected world requires each of us to develop broad and diverse social networks in addition to trusted communities of practice. Today, this is even more important for women than men, though I think it will be essential for all genders in the near future. Social networks are our professional safety nets.

Professor Brian Uzzi studied hundreds of MBA graduates and noted significant differences in the social networks of men and women. While social networks are important to both, successful women also had an ‘inner circle’ of trusted female advisors. Networks and communities are not the same. Communities are the connectors between diverse networks and work teams. They are essential. We all need an inner circle. (more…)

methods for mastery

I recently came across two methods to implement aspects of personal knowledge mastery. The first, by Angelika Mittelmann, uses my Seek > Sense > Share framework to create a ‘fitness circuit’ which includes warm-up, starting, and sustaining exercises. These are quite detailed but are good for people looking for inspiration to start the PKM discipline. Mittelman concludes, and I agree, “As every person is different, there is no standardized PKM.” (more…)