chaos and order

chaordic [kay-ordʹ-ic], adj., fr. E. chaos and order. 1. The behavior of any self-organizing, self-governing, organ, organization, or system that harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos. 2. Patterned by chaos and order in a way not dominated by either. 3. Blending of diversity, chaos, complexity and order characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature. —Dee Hock

Our institutions and markets are failing us. We need new structures and the return to tribalism currently manifested as populism will not save us. As the advent of the printing press helped usher in an age of inquiry, first in the Christian religion and later in the enlightenment and scientific revolution, so we have to engage in creating new organizational and governance structures for a global network era.

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networked knowledge creates value

As we enter the network era, the dominant technology is the internet and working knowledge is distributed through professional communities, many of which are hosted online. Compare this to the last 75 years where the company was connected to a factory and knowledge was delivered from business schools. Tangible goods, best practices, and standardization are being replaced by intangible assets, emergent practices, and transparency. In the network era, business is changing.

In the networked knowledge triad, I tried to show how real value creation today happens outside the organization. Therefore professionals should develop value creation networks that connect to the world, beyond the current workplace. These networks are the modern equivalents of degrees and certificates. They are the value we bring to our work teams and organizations. As the life expectancy of organizations decreases, we can no longer depend on employers to provide stability for our working lives. That stability now comes from our networks.

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the arts in perpetual beta

Next month I will be facilitating a workshop at The Arts in a Digital World Summit, hosted in Montreal by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Among other things, the summit will be a chance to share knowledge, mobilize – and possibly even incubate projects. We’ll consider our digital reality as an opportunity to:

  • develop innovative approaches
  • re-imagine how artists and arts organizations engage with citizens
  • seed collaborations within the arts community, and with other sectors.

It will bring together over 250 artistic and administrative leaders, digital experts, and strategic thinkers selected by the Canada Council to represent the vast diversity of the sector and to contribute to the testing and understanding of its new Fund for the arts in a digital world. The event will be by-invitation however many parts of it will also be accessible online.

My workshop is entitled The Arts in Perpetual Beta. This is how I describe the 90 minute session: We live in a networked world. Automation and connectivity are changing how we work and learn. How does the digital surround affect how human knowledge and creativity are shared? Join this workshop to discuss some key trends, understand knowledge networks, and critically examine the technologies we use.

I intend to focus on network thinking, machine augmentation, and the tetradic effects of technology. I’ll also talk about learning like an artist.

I would be interested in the perspectives of anyone working in or with the arts. I am especially curious how their work has changed in the past decade or so as a result of automation or connectivity.

  • Has the internet been a positive force for your art?
  • What do you see as major challenges to do your art or to get it known?
  • Do you have a generally positive or negative outlook on the future of your art?

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network era km

I developed the network learning model from various sources over a decade as a way to describe the need to connect outside our workplaces in order to stay current in our professions and to be open to new and innovative ideas. The triple operating system is an organizational perspective on this relationship. In the network era, we need to understand the three network types that enable knowledge to flow: Connectivity Networks, Alignment Networks, and Productivity Networks. Organizations need to support the connections between these three network types, by Weaving, Facilitating, and Coordinating: both inside and outside the firewall. This is network-centric work & learning.

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to retrieve or to extend

It seems that ‘millennials’ in America do not have a lot of confidence in their institutions and markets. According to a 2016 Vox survey, corporate America, governors, and news agencies ranked the lowest. The status quo is not faring well. This is not surprising if we look at the major shift in how we humans are organizing, which is only the fourth in history. The TIMN model shows how each shift created a new dominant form of organizing people: first in tribes, then through institutions, and later in markets. And now we are beginning an age of network dominance.

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seek > sense > share for cities

Two years ago, a number of members from UCLG (United Cities & Local Governments) participated in a personal knowledge mastery workshop. This was part of the organization’s search for “practical solutions to fulfill the citizen’s demand” acknowledging that “learning cannot be conducted alone but has to be part of partnerships”. One result was an initiative between Mozambique and Brazil that embraced my seek > sense > share framework in a unique way (PDF pp. 44 – 47).

“The methodology used throughout the project and the role of partners is described using Harold Jarche’s ‘Seek, Sense, Share’ learning framework as it seeks to facilitate the sharing of complex knowledge and foster a network built on trusted relationships.

Seek: Identify Partners, Cities, Technical and Political Leaders, and People
“The objective was to bring the actors together through triangular cooperation built around Brazilian cities’ experiences and expertise, European support and Mozambican leadership.”

Sense: Building Content and Results
“This methodology was an eye-opener for many mayors, who thus had a better understanding of the role and work of their technicians, which led to higher levels of trust.”

Share: Disseminate Results and Evaluate the Process
“Additional outreach included a blog to share the results and to connect to other stakeholders; a newsletter; radio interviews provided by Brazilian mayors; and strategic connections to other events and meetings in Brazil.”

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implementing network learning

In the network era, developing the skills of a master artisan in every field of work will be critical for success. While getting work done collaboratively will continue to be of importance in all organizations, it will not be enough. New ideas will have to come from our professional networks in order to keep pace with innovation and change in our fields. More importantly, a safe place is needed to connect these new ideas to the work to be done. Communities of practice will continue to grow as knowledge artisans need to integrate their work and learning in a trusted space. As the gig economy dominates, communities of practice can bring some stability to our professional development. These are owned by the practitioners themselves, not an association and not an organization. You know you are in a real community of practice when it changes your practice.

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principles and models for the network era

The End of the Market Era

Capitalism today is the ultimate expression of a market dominated society, where money is made from nothing, as financial traders manipulate stocks, currencies, and whatever else they can. Its final growth spurt was enabled by ubiquitous fossil fuels so that supply chains could take advantage of either cheap goods or cheap labour due to the human inequalities on our planet. But the age of oil is ending, and markets are being replaced by networks as the dominant organizing model. Nafeez Ahmed recently stated that the end of capitalism is inevitable.

“At the core of this radical re-wiring is a transformation of the human relationship with nature: moving away from top-down modes of political and economic organization, to participatory models of grassroots self-governance, localized sustainable agriculture, and equity in access to economic production.” –

One theory that has informed my own work is David Ronfeldt’s TIMN (Tribes-Institutions-Markets-Networks) Theory showing that all four of these forms will co-exist as we enter the next evolution of society, but networks will dominate. This explanatory theory shows what has happened as we have previously transitioned from one dominant organizing form to the next and is a good starting point to discuss what we can do about it.

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human networks connect through empathy

We are only as good as our networks. Our decisions reflect the diversity of our networks. Complex problems usually do not have simple solutions but require a deep understanding of the context. How do we understand the complexity of social networks? Empathy puts us in other people’s shoes. We try to understand their perspective. Empathy is a requisite perspective for the network era. Empathy means engaging with others. The ability to connect with a diversity of people is the human potential of the Internet.

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a half-baked idea

“I’m thinking of doing some coaching in a few years and helping people make decisions around food and nutrition”, I was told the other day by a young man working in a shop. My advice was to start a blog: now. While he had no intention of freelancing for the near term, he needed to get his thoughts in order. A blog is a good place to do this over time. You can start slow. The process builds over time. My early blog posts were pretty bad but they helped me see what ideas I could revisit and build upon. And it took time.

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