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…)

What matters in knowledge work

This Venn diagram by Oscar Berg says a lot about the nature of work and management today.

KnowledgeWorkerProductivityVennWhat I see on the right are all the attributes of being a free agent and working in trusted networks like the Internet Time Alliance or Change Agents Worldwide. The only thing missing from these networks is a salary. Almost everything on the left is a control measure in return for a salary. It reinforces the blunt stick of economic consequences as the prime motivator to do work.

If we want knowledge workers to be truly productive we have two major options. We can create new organizational models. These could be new or based on one of the well-known 18 bossless companies. Or we can try a hybrid model, as Rod Collins advocates to Steve Denning [Collins' other two models are a sub-set of the 18].

The third option is the hybrid option. This is more likely what a big old firm is going to use. Hybrid options are transition options. You are blending network features with a hierarchical structure. It can happen in a couple of ways.

That’s about it, because the status quo is not really an option. Not for leadership and not for dealing with complexity.

Scaling knowledge

Most organizations grow from simple to complicated structures and in so doing keep adding layers of control. These complicated organizations usually wind up getting industrial disease. On the other hand, networked organizations can scale because they do not need to control every connection. People who participate in structures like open source software projects can join and connect to others at will. Designers of these open organizational structures understand that in complex un-order, loose hierarchies and strong networks are best. (more…)