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…)

Revolutionalize Learning & Development

Work is learning and learning is the work, says Clark Quinn. I agree.

Clark gives a clear path forward for today’s learning and development profession on the cusp of revolution or extinction in his latest book. Revolutionize Learning & Development is required reading for anyone involved in training, instruction, or corporate education. I have known Clark for many years and in this book he makes the case for change very clear. He maps the path to align learning with work. If learning is the solution to the business situation, then this book will explain how to make it so. (more…)

Work is changing

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

The nature of work is changing. People’s relationship with work is changing. The changes to society will be vast.” – @gapingvoid

Andrew McAfee: offshoring is a way station on the way to automation – via @ebala

The research is clear that technological progress has greatly benefitted people in the developing world so far. I wonder, though, if automation and deindustrialization might be creating a ‘silicon ceiling’ on growth — a situation in which even low wages are no longer an attractive alternative to technology. If so, the global shift away from labor and toward capital will only accelerate.

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Social leadership

What is social leadership? Simply put, it’s shifting the focus from you to we. All organizational leaders are part of complex human social networks. The great fallacy of leadership is that leaders control.

Control is a mirage. The most effective leaders right now–men and women–are those who embrace traits once considered feminine: Empathy. Vulnerability. Humility. Inclusiveness. Generosity. Balance. Patience. – Leigh Buchanan, Inc. Magazine

These traits need to be combined with one single mission: to create better work environments. Social leaders understand that first we shape our structures, and then our structures shape us. Working on the business means working on how the organization is designed. The Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments have shown us that if you put a good person in a bad system, the system always wins. (more…)

Work Out Loud Week

Sharing complex knowledge requires trust, but developing trusted knowledge networks does not happen over night. It requires a combination of actively engaged knowledge workers, using effective communications tools, all within a supportive organizational structure.

In complex work environments, the optimal way to do work is to constantly probe the environment and test emergent practices. This requires an empowered workforce. Emergent practices are dependent on the cooperation of all workers (including management) as well as the free flow of knowledge. (more…)

Freelancing means freedom

What happens when freelancers outnumber salaried employees? In the USA, more than 30% of the population are freelancers. The assumptions of employers and employees are being turned on their heads, but politicians are still focused on creating jobs. Good luck with that.

This transition is nothing less than a revolution. We haven’t seen a shift in the workforce this significant in almost 100 years when we transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Now, employees are leaving the traditional workplace and opting to piece together a professional life on their own. As of 2005, one-third of our workforce participated in this “freelance economy.” Data show that number has only increased over the past six years. Entrepreneurial activity in 2009 was at its highest level in 14 years, online freelance job postings skyrocketed in 2010, and companies are increasingly outsourcing work. While the economy has unwillingly pushed some people into independent work, many have chosen it because of greater flexibility that lets them skip the dreary office environment and focus on more personally fulfilling projects. – The Freelance Surge is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time

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21C Monopoly

The robber barons of the 21st century are the platform owners. They have combined the power of network effects with a 20th century corporate capitalist, winner takes all approach. Amazon is choking the book publishing industry, Google is dominating advertising, and telecommunications companies are using their control of the pipes to directly compete with service providers. Now Uber is going after the taxi and car rental industries, getting to be larger than established rental car brands, with none of the overhead. All of these companies provide initially good services to customers. But over time their monopolistic tendencies kill competition and the entire ecosystem of innovation. (more…)

Good leaders connect

Why do organizations need leaders? If you think about leadership from a tribal, institutional, or even market perspective, then it is about controlling information and appropriately using the power you have been given, in order to achieve the organization’s aims. But communications have changed that, as we move into the network era, a move that had its foreshadowing with the invention of the printing press, and has been accelerating with every electronic medium invented since. As author and historian, Gwynne Dyer, has noted, “Tyranny was the solution to what was essentially a communications problem.

Modern democracy first appeared in the West only because the West was the first part of the world to develop mass communications. It was a technological advantage, not a cultural one – and as literacy and the technology of mass communications have spread around the world, all the other mass societies have begun to reclaim their heritage too. – Gwynne Dyer

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Promoting learning

The Nobel laureate economist Robert Solow noted some 60 years ago that rising incomes should largely be attributed not to capital accumulation, but to technological progress – to learning how to do things better. While some of the productivity increase reflects the impact of dramatic discoveries, much of it has been due to small, incremental changes. And, if that is the case, it makes sense to focus attention on how societies learn, and what can be done to promote learning – including learning how to learn. – Joseph E. Stiglitz

We may talk about the importance of learning, but for the most part we do not practice it. Let’s start with schools. Schools tend to focus on weaknesses instead of strengths. They also focus too much on content dissemination. Our institutions have failed to foster the love of learning, and do not motivate students to learn for themselves – in many cases it’s the opposite. One problem is the continuing focus on subject-based curriculum. It separates education from reality. We do not live our lives in subject areas, and no workplace is subject-based, but almost all of our curricula are stuffed into category silos.
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Mastering the Internet of Everything

In a recent interview, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, stated that the major hurdle for the Internet of Everything is the underlying architecture or it will not happen, as too much effort will have to be spent on systems integration. As with most technical hurdles, this will likely be addressed, sooner or later.

Many people are just figuring out Web 1.0, mastering their web browsers, email and the like. Others are getting into Web 2.0, using social media to connect to people and join communities of practice. And now along comes the internet of everything (IoE). How will we be able to master this new network paradigm, or will it master us? (more…)