post-modernity: a way-station to the future

The TIMN Model describes how people have organized through history — first we lived as Tribes, then Institutions (church & state) dominated, and now Markets reign supreme. Each new form did not obsolesce the previous ones, but did change them. For example, tribes and clans have less influence over global markets than stock exchanges do. But families are still powerful bonding units between people. T+I+M is what David Ronfeldt calls a triform society, which we are currently in. T+I+M+N is when the Network form becomes our main way of organizing society. This will be a quadriform society. We are not there yet but can already see examples of what could be our future with  — networked warfare, networked cryptocurrencies, and networked social movements. (more…)

from modernity to meta-modernity

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

“I should have followed Ni Kuang’s process for doing work. Get paid first, deliver on time but absolutely no rewrites. That’s your business. Genius.”@ActivateLearn

“Freelancing is a tightrope act of sharing and protecting your wares.”@White_Owly

“The beauty of science hugely outranks the charms of superstition. Nature is miraculous enough.” —Christopher Hitchens via @Hitch_Slapping

“Question authority. No idea is true just because someone says so. Test ideas by the evidence gained from observation and experiment! If a favorite idea fails a well-designed test, it’s wrong!” —Richard Feynman via @ProfFeynmam (more…)

continuous learning for collaboration

For the eleventh consecutive year, Jane Hart has polled thousands of respondents and asked what are their Top Tools for Learning. I contributed my own list of tools once again this year. In addition to the extensive list, complete with Jane’s observations and insights, she provides an interesting look at ten of the emerging trends. I find two of the trends of significant interest.

  • Learning at work is becoming personal and continuous.
  • Team collaboration tools support the real social learning at work.

Learning at work

One of the primary reasons to promote learning at work is because it is directly linked to innovation. Gary Klein examined 120 case studies and in, Seeing what Others Don’t, identified five ways that we gain insight.

  1. Curiosity
  2. Connections
  3. Coincidences
  4. Contradictions
  5. Creative Desperation


toward distributed governance

Last year I wrote a post — cities & the future of work — as an introduction to my session with the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland. I have been invited back to Helsinki this year to further discuss some issues around reforming the government’s operating practices particularly moving toward a more collaborative culture.

In the emerging network era, leadership is helping communities and networks become more resilient. Government agencies can focus on creating more human organizational structures that enable self-governance. Leadership becomes an emergent property of a network in balance. Depending on any one person to be the leader only dumbs-down the entire network. Viewing all of our work and learning from a network perspective may in the long-run create a better society. One role of government in the network era is to enable knowledge-sharing and curate the knowledge of all citizens. It can start by doing this internally. Countries, regions, and cities should be designed to enable more and better connections between citizens. Learning and innovation are more about making connections than having unique ideas. Increasing connections makes for a more innovative country.

In Finland the government is looking at a cross-sectoral and phenomenon-based approach, which ensures that a phenomenon like youth social exclusion is understood and addressed by government departments together, before individual budgets and projects are initiated. I liken this to agile sensemaking, where these ‘situation rooms’ (work teams) are based on temporary, negotiated hierarchies, that can be re-organized to address different phenomena as they appear. (more…)

staying alive in the modern world

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

“I’m convinced that people think freelancers have their lives funded by some kind of freelancing fairy, and that invoices are therefore an exercise in comedy.”WhiteOwl

“AI makes us more powerful. It doesn’t make us wiser.”@joi

“The impact of technology on our lives — and on the future of meaningful work — is the result of research, investment, regulatory, and business model choices that are made by people.”Byrone Auguste

a personal learning model

The Seek > Sense > Share framework of personal knowledge mastery was the result of many iterations over almost 15 years. It is simple to understand but under it are many layers. You can keep digging for a lifetime as each part reveals deeper aspects — algorithms, heuristics, complexity, critical thinking, media literacy, cognitive load management, network analysis, etc.

Many people have shared their PKM routines and it is great to see variations on the theme, as there is no lock-step method or recipe to mastery. We must each find our own path as we likely will not keep to another person’s path over time. PKM is personal.

Clark Quinn has taken my Seek > Sense > Share framework and added a layer that makes it easier to understand. It is not too detailed but gives extra value. Clark has ‘added value‘, a key part of PKM. (more…)

complexity & chaos — the new normal

A major challenge I have had in my organizational change work is getting people to understand that complicated environments are different from complex ones, and the latter are almost always the situation when people are involved. Generally it means that in complex situations there is less reliance on pre-planning and analysis and a greater emphasis on continuous experimentation coupled with good observation and tracking. Reinforce successful projects and learn constantly in complexity.

According to the Cynefin framework we should Probe > Sense > Respond when dealing with complexity, as opposed to Analyze > Sense > Respond when the situation is complicated. Mechanical systems are complicated, but most human systems are complex. It means that we cannot overplan, though planning itself prepares us to deal with what emerges as we probe complex situations and environments. In complicated conditions we can rely on established good practices, but in complex ones we need to continuously develop our own emergent practices.

This is my 200th post on the topic of complexity. But I have not paid much attention to chaos. In Chaos: A User’s Guide, Bruno Marion concludes that the world today is chaotic.

“Never in the history of humanity has a single human being had so much power. Never in the history of humanity have YOU had so much power!

Optimistic or pessimistic, it is like being a spectator of a film of which we seem to know the ending, whether happy or unhappy. Today one must cease to be a passive spectator but an actor in this fast-changing world.”


autonomy, competence, relevance

If we seek diverse or divergent views, will the opinions of others change our minds? A recent study seems to indicate that paying attention to views opposed to our own may actually harden our existing perspectives.

“In a study that was published last month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, my colleagues and I [Christopher A. Bail, Duke University] did just that. We surveyed more than 1,200 Twitter-using Republicans and Democrats about their political views. Then we paid half of them to follow for one month a bot we created that retweeted messages from elected officials and other opinion leaders from the other political party.

Instead of reducing political polarization, being exposed to opposing ideas increased it. Republicans who followed a Democratic bot for one month expressed social policy views that were substantially more conservative at the conclusion of the study. Democrats who followed a Republican bot exhibited very slight increases in liberal attitudes about social issues, but those effects were not statistically significant.” —New York Times 2018-09-08


the agile sensemaking model

“Research shows that teams will organize themselves in different ways in response to how different types of complexity strains their sensemaking capacities. In order to increase their sensemaking potential, teams will reorganize their relationships in recognizable ways. We can think of these as emergent patterns of collective sensemaking.” —Bonnitta Roy

The increasing complexity of work is a result of automation, such as AI & robots, who are taking away any repetitive tasks, leaving barely repeatable tasks for humans. In addition to this automation of any work that can be described in a flowchart, we also have a larger number of human connections to deal with and humans by nature are complex. Robin Dunbar showed that we are only able to have a maximum of about 150 real human relationships before our cognitive capabilities are maxed out. Note that 150 is the size of an infantry company, a standard size that has stood the test of battle and time. But I, and many others, have thousands of connections on social media platforms like LinkedIn. How can we make sense of these? (more…)