Talking about Working Smarter

Working Smarter: What is it? Why do we need to do it?

Working Smarter means integrating learning and working.

We’re networking our society, our economy and our workplaces. This increases complexity because there are more connections between people, places and things. In complex systems, the link between cause and effect cannot be determined. Instead, we need to look for constantly-changing patterns (think weather systems). More work of value is in the complex domain. Industrial-style work is being outsourced and automated.


In complex environments, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Reducing our work using mechanistic models is ineffective. People are not interchangeable parts in these systems. We are not “human resources”. Separating functions like HR, OD, KM, IT, Marketing & Training creates silos of knowledge and encourages tribal-style loyalties.

Working Smarter happens at multiple levels. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own learning and think critically. This threatens traditional command and control organizations. Cooperation via digital networks is changing how people learn and work outside the organization. Seb Paquet calls it, “ridiculously easy group forming”. We need to rethink how we collaborate to get work done. In organizing group work we have to consider each individual as well as the multiple networks that connect us.

Collaborative work, while constantly learning and connecting in networks, must be the foundation of any new organizational model. We still need to work out the details of the next workplace. We can do this by working smarter.

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5 Responses to “Talking about Working Smarter”

  1. Jon Husband

    Aha .. I just came back to say that I was probably wrong, and that I think Clay had attributed it to Seb from the time (or around then) Seb was working with SocialText.

    But, as always, thanks for your precision and care.