Four Basic Skills for 2020

In 2011, The Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix published a report that looked at Future Work Skills 2020 (PDF). The report identified six drivers of change. I’ve added links to examples of each, three years later.

  1. Longevity, in terms of the age of the workforce and customers – Retiring Later
  2. Smart machines, to augment and extend human abilities – Workplace Automation
  3. A computational world, as computer networks connect – Internet of Everything
  4. New media, that pervade every aspect of life – Online Privacy
  5. Superstructed organizations, that scale below or beyond what was previously possible – AirBNB
  6. A globally connected world, with a multitude of local cultures and competition from all directions- Geek Nation


Thoughts on measurement

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

@weissblatt – “Sharing is becoming a life skill. Knowledge is power only if shared.”

Thomas Edison – “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – via @BrunoGebarski

@SteveKLabnik – “We used to think Open Source was enough to save us, but it’s control of the network that really matters.” (more…)

Wirearchy to scale successfully

A recent email from Hugh MacLeod at Gapingvoid connected immediately in my mind with Jon Husband’s wirearchy framework. This is how organizations in the network era can scale successfully. As Hugh writes, “Scaling your business is all about having more people solve more problems for you.”

See image below: (more…)

Seeking feedback on PKM

We are just finishing the second PKM in 40 Days online workshop this year. So far we have have had over 75 participants in the new format of 40 days online, 6 themes, 18 activities, and 14 days for reflection and catch-up. Each workshop is different but it is always great to get serious feedback on what PKM means for those who have undertaken the workshop.

I am realising the benefits of practicing what the PKM concept preaches…

1. SEEKING is a good start, but it isn’t enough.

We must make SENSE of everything we find, and that includes prioritising–recognising what is useful now, what will be useful later, and what may not be useful. The trick is to learn how to store the ‘useful later’ stuff so that I can get back to it, and this has been a key ‘take away’ for me. I’ve particularly enjoyed learning about this … Learning about how to organise information was a key reason I signed up for this program, so I’m a happy customer.

3. And finally, I have become more mindful that we must SHARE insights we’ve formed so that we can give back to the ‘universe’, as much as we get. What stood out for me was the fact that just ‘forwarding’ isn’t always helpful sharing. This is my reason for this post. I’m definitely thinking out loud here, so forgive me, but I’m trying to articulate the key insights I’ve taken away, hoping that it will help you frame this program with future participants.

Therefore, if I were to comment on this program, Harold, I’d have to say it’s brilliant: it offers something for all of us. But it’s up to each of us to take what you offer; make SENSE of it and filter it to identify information that is immediately useful vs useful later vs less useful, then SHARE key insights formed as a result of having gone through this process. – Chemene Sinson


Owning our data

With the internet of everything (IoE), once everything is connected, where will our data reside? Who will own it and who will control it?

“In real life, things go wrong. With such a large network encompassing so many devices and objects (Cisco says there will be 50 billion by 2020) there’s a lot of complexity, and plenty of opportunity for errors and malfeasance. “We will live in a world where many things won’t work, and nobody will know how to fix them,” says Howard Rheingold, an Internet sociologist. Our successes in integrating many things successfully may lead to overreach and hubris, the report’s respondents say.” – Fast Coexist


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