Mastering a discipline for transformation

A model of curation for the digital era that is being used in health and care is Harold Jarche’s ‘Personal Knowledge Mastery’ (PKM). This is about individuals making the best use of their networks and other sources of knowledge so that they can keep up to date with the most effective thinking in their area and practice new ways of doing things. Leaders who take responsibility for their own effectiveness through PKM create leverage and value for their organisations. The underpinning framework for curation within PKM is ‘seek, sense, share’. ‘Seeking’ is about finding things out and keeping up to date; pulling’ information, but also having it ‘pushed’ to us by trusted sources. ‘Sensing’ is about making sense and meaning of information, reflecting and putting into practice what we have learned and plugging information into our own mental models and turning it into knowledge. ‘Sharing’ is about connecting and collaborating; sharing complex knowledge with our own work teams, testing new ideas with our own networks and increasing connections through social networks.
- UK National Health Service White Paper 2014: The new era of thinking and practice in change and transformation

There is always more to master in a discipline. One is never finished. As with all journeys, mastery begins by taking the first step. In the PKM workshops, everyone is at a different stage of mastery. We are all fellow seekers, including those of us who have been at it for many years. Perhaps this is why PKM does not fit easily into a curriculum, as it transcends subjects and skills. PKM is composed of many skills, but not a definitive set. My PKM is not your PKM. (more…)


The basic premise of the long tail is that there is an equal or perhaps larger market of those willing to buy unpopular items (or services) than all the people who buy the popular items. It goes against traditional wisdom of focusing on items that can be sold many times, as you may be missing an even larger opportunity in the long tail. Instead, the long tail theory is to sell a few things to a few people at a time, but repeat this many times over. Of course the kicker is that it only works in certain circumstances, such as online music sales. The important criteria include being able to store objects cheaply (works for digital content), and most importantly, owning the sales platform, like Amazon or iTunes. (more…)

A compass for the Big Shift

Participation in knowledge flows can generate new insights and practices and improve performance in ways that also yield learning and new capabilities.

This thinking extends from the individual up into the organization and beyond, into the ecosystem. Not just how can we learn, but how can we learn faster? We’re still early in the Big Shift, but if we can figure this out, we create an environment of increasing returns, expanding opportunity, and more value for everybody. – John Hagel: Why learning is the only sustainable response to the increasing pressures of the Big Shift

Personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is a discipline of seeking from diverse knowledge sources, actively making sense through action and experimentation, and sharing through narration of work and learning out loud. PKM is a critical business skill to address what John Hagel describes in the Shift Index:

The ability to participate in and learn from knowledge flows, often through technology, will be critical for success for individuals, organizations, and ecosystems.


Swimming in circles

Here are some observations and insights that were shared on social media this past fortnight. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@KarenGowen – “Writing a novel takes a long time but not writing it takes even longer.”

@EskoKilpi – “Reach, together with symmetry and equality, were the things that made the Internet such a radical social innovation.”

Polish proverb: “Every time you feel yourself being pulled into other people’s nonsense, repeat these words: not my circus, not my monkeys.” – via @nickbilton (more…)

The skills gap is a learning gap

Continuous learning, lifelong learning, learning organizations, and constant learning – terms we hear every day about the changing nature of the workplace. We don’t even know what skills to prepare for, but most people agree that we all need to keep on learning if we wish to remain relevant at work, in our professions, or in life. Just watch how new technology is adopted by people of my age. It can be painful.

With technology accelerating change in the marketplace and automation replacing highly skilled workers with robots, the decision to invest in any particular set of skills is far from obvious.  Empty platitudes about “upgrading skills” and “investing in our people” will not suffice.  We need to start thinking seriously about viable strategies to manage the skills gap. – Digital Tonto


The Internet of Everyone

Technology will rapidly change, consolidate, and probably change again. – John Chambers

Stop chasing the latest technology wave. It’s much better to make sense of it while also watching for the next wave. These waves of technology will most likely come faster and faster with the Internet of Everything (IoE). Faster feedback loops will be built into all product development cycles. Cloud-based technologies will mean constant change, much of it not even seen by end-users. As a result, better ways to negotiate a connected world will have to be developed. These will have to be human-centric if we expect them to last. Processes, data, and things may be able to change quickly, but people do not. While they may be agile, adaptable, and flexible, people cannot get a new operating system and start working in a different way overnight. (more…)

Learning to breathe in the network era

The networked workplace is the new reality. It’s always on and globally connected. This is where all organizations are going, at different speeds and in a variety of ways. Some won’t make it. In many organizations the outside world is better connected than inside the workplace. This makes it difficult to connect at the boundaries, which is where we have the best opportunities for serendipity and potential innovation.

At the edge of the organization, where there are few rules; everything is a blur. It may even be chaotic. But opportunities are found in chaos. Value emerges from forays into the chaos. In such a changing environment, failure has to be tolerated. Nothing is guaranteed other than the fact that not playing here puts any organization at a significant disadvantage. (more…)

Social leaders create value

Simon Terry’s value maturity model is based on the guiding principle of collaboration at the organizational level, not the process level. This means everyone has to be connected to the overall mission, and not just focused on their part. Goal oriented conversations keep all people in the organization connected.

An employee who is challenged to integrate his or her work at the level of the goals of the organisation has an opportunity to stop, change or transform the process. That employee can respond to the situation before them, use their discretion and use the talents of their colleagues. The employee can look to deliver greater value than the current process allows. That liberty reinforces their accountability and validates the organisations confidence in the potential of the employee. A key barrier to engagement in many organisations is that an employee can struggle to find the connection between their work and the goals of the organisation. Goal-oriented conversations can play a critical role to surface that connection. – Simon Terry


People and the Wild Internet of Everything

“Cisco’s view is that IoE technically differs from the Internet of Things; IoT is composed of connected objects, while IoE encompasses the networks that must support all the data these objects generate and transmit. “Software by itself won’t get the job done,” Chambers said at Interop in October, arguing that IoE demands data center software and hardware that work in concert.” – Information Week

Software is part of the solution. Hardware is part of the solution. People are the other part. Humans can connect complex things together better than any software or hardware system. It remains that the only practical interface with complexity is the human brain. It’s why the Turing test, to the chagrin of technology  marketers, has never been passed by a machine. (more…)

ESN as knowledge bridges

An effective suite of enterprise social tools can help organizations share knowledge, collaborate, and cooperate – connecting the work being done with the identification of new opportunities and ideas. In an age when everything is getting connected, it only makes sense to have platforms in place that enable faster feedback loops inside the organization in order to deal with connected customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors. It takes a networked organization, staffed by people with networked mindsets, to thrive in a networked economy.

Enterprise social networks (ESN) are growing in usage in most large organizations. More employees are sharing knowledge through activity streams on platforms by IBM, SAP, Jive, Yammer, and Socialcast, to name a few.  But ESN can constrain what they are supposed to enhance. Due to the very personal and intimate nature of implicit knowledge, people will only freely share it if they feel they are in control. A single enterprise network does not provide much individual control. (more…)