Enterprise knowledge sharing requires trusted relationships

As the economy gets more networked, open organizations are becoming a necessity. Businesses are increasingly dependent on complex social interactions. Products are becoming services, as we can see with web apps, software, and even books. Trading intangible goods and services today requires trusted relationships, and often across distances. Internally, work teams that need to share complex knowledge require tighter social bonds. These are developed through time, with experience, and most often informally. Trust is a human quality. But the major barrier to encouraging informal social relationships at work often comes down to a question of control. (more…)

Move the hierarchy to the rear

In an environment where everyone is a leader, some other mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that everyone can maintain and optimize the tenets of fairness, trust and transparency so the entire organization can move forward. – Harrison Monarth: HBR

The foundation for this “other mechanism” is the wirearchy framework: a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology.” But what is the mechanism and why is it important to have an environment where everyone can be a leader? After all, most leaders are quite comfortable where they are. They worked hard to get there, didn’t they? (more…)

A beacon of light

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” – Anne Lamott

When Christopher Mackay and I started talking about my new website design we first discussed what my business means. I mentioned that clarity was important to my clients and that often I engage them when they are in a chaotic state where it is not certain what the outcomes will be. I have learned over the years to be comfortable in not knowing what will happen and not having all the answers at the onset. As Chris and I talked, the idea of the lighthouse emerged. It is not just a beacon of light but a landmark and a place of departure. Living in Atlantic Canada, the lighthouse is a common, though vanishing, symbol of the region. The lighthouse in my new website design is local. It is at Cape Jourimain, not far from where I live and work. In this new network era of perpetual Beta, it is good to stay grounded. Ken Homer has described this blog as “a beacon of light in the dark landscape of organizational learning”, so it just seemed fitting. (more…)

From SSM to SLE

I mentioned on Twitter that talking to people inside large corporate bodies only confirms that most are soul-sucking machines (SSM). John Bordeaux replied that skunkworks may be one way to alleviate this organizational tendency. He also said there was a need to clarify the steps necessary for community to be the central organizing principle in order to create a soul-liberating enterprise (SLE). (more…)

Engaging the creative workforce

Collaboration happens around some kind of plan or structure, while cooperation presumes the freedom of individuals to join and participate. As a free-agent, much of my time is spent cooperating. When I cooperate, I give freely, but no one tells me what to do. On the other hand, collaboration is required to get things done. This is when we have milestones, deadlines, and deliverables. I collaborate on the projects and work I commit to do.

The social contract for independent creative workers is relatively simple. For much of my day, I work on what I want to. I do a lot for free. This is on my terms. I write my blog and share ideas with the world. I license these for easy sharing. Many people and companies use these ideas. This is fine, as I get to decide what and when I want to share. (more…)

The CEO will be the next CLO

Chief Learning Officers will be the next CEO’s say John Hagel and John Seely Brown, in this short video from Deloitte. I disagree, because I do not see business leadership coming from Organizational Development, Human Resources or Training & Development. I think it will be much easier, and more important, for business leaders to understand the significance of learning in the workplace. Even Adidas has adopted my adage that today, work is learning and learning is the work.

A well-rounded CEO can more easily become the CLO than vice versa. In addition, the generalists are already in charge. Often, the learning professionals are not core to the business. So where will learning leadership come from? I think it will come from business, and that is where I am focusing my efforts, helping business understand workplace learning, not helping learning professionals understand business.

If business is waking up to the fact that learning is now mission critical, will executives continue to allow learning policy to reside in a separate department? Will they will let learning professionals maintain sole control? I doubt it. (more…)