Category Archives for Personal Knowledge Mastery

My first self-published Kindle book is out!

Today is a fun and festive day indeed! Today my first self-published book has been released on Kindle. The title is “How to avoid information overload using social media tools: Steps to feeling calmer and smarter“, and the book is free to download the first three days.

If you use Kindle (otherwise download it for free here), I would be very grateful if you could download it and then send me any feedback by commenting this blog post. This way, I can do some necessary changes before the free period ends. If you like the idea of the book, please write a positive review of it here. The book is free at the beginning, and I am helped by friendly reviews.

I view this as an experiment and a chance to grow. I have studied what people like James Altucher and Tim Ferriss are writing about self-publishing and wanted to try it. Even though I have no illusions about reaching big audiences, I have crossed a mental barrier: None of us need permission from anyone else to write, publish, and sell books on any subject. If I can do it, you can do it.

Let us see where this lands. Meanwhile, cheers!

 

Culture, Machine Intelligence, and Ways of Working

As my followers know, I have written about the digital workplace for some years. Lately, however, I have grown somewhat tired of it: It seems we either only talk about the latest semi-smart upgrades in Office 365 and how they can be used, or some futuristic views of how we will work in 5 years from now. In one sense these are interesting subjects. In another sense, they are somewhat boring, repetitive, and distant. Some days, I couldn’t care less about the tools Microsoft throw at us, and how they relate to Slack. Meanwhile, I have started a blog on Machine Intelligence, and oh that has opened my eyes. Suddenly, I see more of the woods instead of just staring at the trees, and where we look is the deal breaker:

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: The Essays

By expanding my field of vision, the limits of my world are moved further away. Then there are other writers who help me understand the world. One such example during the last months is Gloria Lombardi’s compilation of what she refers to as the future of work predictions for 2017. A line of smart people present their views on what they think will come this year, and here is my quick interpretation of the things the interviewees talk about:

 

Very short version: If you don’t take care of your employees and the exponential technology that is coming, the smart employees will leave and you will lose business deals while feeling left behind.

I have written and spoken about corporate culture before, and I have just entered the world of Machine Intelligence. Now I read more about the ways we organize work, including the Gig Economy which I honestly don’t see coming as fast yet but maybe it is. We should never think entrepreneurs are the only ones to save the world – the intrapreneurs are crucial here. Don’t underestimate the existing industrial companies.

So, let’s look at what Deloitte says about Machine Intelligence:

Collectively, these and other tools constitute machine intelligence: algorithmic capabilities that can augment employee performance, automate increasingly complex workloads, and develop “cognitive agents” that simulate both human thinking and engagement.

Exponential data growth is requiring Personal Knowledge Management for individuals, faster-distributed systems are democratizing information handling, and smarter algorithms help us process information to understand the world better. Combine these with the strong positive cultures we need, and the new ways we should trust the coworkers no matter where they are, and an interesting painting is forming. Trust me: Companies who miss this train, will for sure be left behind.

And on that note, we might as well focus on something important while working, and maybe this is the middle of the three rings: The purpose that the culture, machine intelligence, and ways of organizing work creates. The company I work for creates brakes and other safety equipment for large trucks and trailers. We all want them to stop instead of running into us, and we want them to be kind to the environment. We are also very focused on the culture we nurture and create, while keeping a close eye on the technology that is evolving. I think these are all keys to the great kinds of workplaces we look for.

If you think you lack a purpose, which is alarming since a purpose is the jet fuel in our tanks, you can always look at the upcoming possibilities. Just look at World Economic Forum which helps us zoom out and see the big picture, as in 5 global problems that AI could help us solve.

There is a lot of thought work left to be done from many people, to understand this. Thankfully, a lot of people are engaged in this, and I follow them closely.

Grow new habits with liminal thinking

I just discovered that I could grow new habits with liminal thinking, and it has already changed how I see things. By reading Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray, I was not only presented with tools to change my view of the world. Through reading this book, I also re-opened the door to the world of philosophy. Far too many have asked why I started my academic road studying practical philosophy and even asked me how philosophy can be practical. Well, those ideas can govern your whole world, and that is why you win from paying attention to such ideas.

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limit of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

The subheading of Dave’s book, “Create the change you want by changing the way you think,” stays very close to what Schopenhauer expresses above. Please note, however, that we are not talking about the over-optimistic, happy-happy, you-can-do-it mentality so prevalent in so-called self-help books. Instead, we are talking about the fabrics of life: If we learn to challenge our beliefs, judgments, theories, and more, we can lead a different kind of life than we are used to. By learning to work with the liminal space between what we experience as reality and the “obvious” way we think the world works, we can move our minds and bodies to places we never thought of before.

Dave explains the principles and practices of liminal thinking in a clear and entertaining way in this book. I recommend it to anyone interested in finding new paths to walk. And remember, again, what Father Zosima told Fyodor Karamazov after this depraved and muddleheaded family father made a fool of himself in Zosima’s cell:

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from the Brothers Karamazov

Yes, stop lying to yourself about how the world works. Instead, challenge how you view it. Please take the time to read Dave’s excellent book, and then head over to the Liminal Thinking site to continue the conversation. Thank you, Dave, for writing this book.

Mapping the Neo-Generalist in you

“The neo-generalist wanderer often has to adapt to contextual shifts and reinvent themselves when circumstances call for it.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

Recently, I finished reading an excellent book called “The Neo-Generalist,” with the Zen-like subtitle “Where You Go Is Who You Are.” Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin wrote this book – two authors that clearly have wandered between specializations, and learned a lot from it.

The book hits a current issue right on the head: Hiring managers and HR departments still focus most of their efforts on finding specialists. It seems to be the default view for everything. We have an issue here – let’s call in an expert! It is reminiscent of kids’ cartoons – the problems there are always clear, and a specialist can always solve them. As in Paw Patrol – they can dig, fly, stop traffic, pour water on fire, and more, focusing on one thing each to save the city over and over. But, as it turns out, the world is more complicated than that, and our work should follow. Yes, the world still needs specialists, of course. Meanwhile, there is a significant need to highlight the serial specialists/neo-generalists too. People who can draw experience from several different professional areas, and merge them into something new. For many of us, this is how we know we can bring value to the world, and we should nurture this. In one sense, it is like saying yes to the open, childlike curiosity we all have had at some point:

“Throughout our early lives we talk about what we want to be when we grow up. Then middle age hits and there is a slow realisation and gradual acceptance that, actually, we never grow up. The potential, the opportunity, remains to be many things.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

It might be that you have experience from different professional areas, and want to support all your skills and interests. One way of making this understanding more concrete can be to create a simple map of who you are as a neo-generalist. This way of thinking is fully in line with the Personal Knowledge Mastery ideas I have learned from Harold Jarche – throw out half-baked ideas to see where they land. I will start with myself as an example, based on my interests and experiences:

neo-generalist

My current job title is “communications manager,” but I have done many other things earlier in my life: technical writing, Ph.D. studies in educational sciences, writing and producing e-learning, taking care of intranets, and focusing on how new technology can help us evolve the workplace based on a healthy culture. If I place them together, it can be a bit easier to see where my different set of skills can take me. I can see how experiences of various disciplines can merge and support each other. And since I have practiced Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) for years, I also know which people can help and inspire me for each circle. Yes, this is an experiment, but I like the visual idea of mapping the serial specialist areas to see where they land. Start by looking at yourself right now, and then build a map. In a few years, it will probably change. A good thing that might come out of such an exercise is that you find what makes you unique. As Oscar Wilde said:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

I highly recommend the book The Neo-Generalist. It has grown on me, gives me new ideas every week, and has awakened a childlike curiosity. Thank you, Kenneth and Richard! I look forward to more discussions going forward.

On the road again

This week was the first after the lovely Swedish summer. Once back, I learned that two companies want to buy Haldex. One company, ZF, is now left and we need to wait and see what happens. If they buy us, we take one road, if they don’t, we take another.

Meanwhile, I turn up the sound on the car stereo and have as fun as possible going forward. There is still so much to do to transform our technology into really supporting humans. No matter in which constellation I will work, creating a humane digital workplace is at the center.

Three versions of the #futureofwork

Recently, I came across three articles and reports that are describing the future of work:

Going through each of these reports and drawing all necessary conclusions is a big task. But I would like to see if there are any similarities regarding how our future work and workplaces are described.

Let us start with the first to articles above – the ones from Microsoft/Poptech (left-hand side) and Business Insider (right-hand side). To makes things easier, I simply copied their own descriptions into each square below (they of course have all the credits and copyrights):

The Changing World of Work
“The exponential growth of digital connectivity, devices and information is driving profound changes in the way we work, all around the world. In order to survive in this world, companies need to rethink everything from culture to tools and environments.”
  The corporate ladder could become the “corporate lattice.”
“In the past 25 years, one-quarter of companies have reduced the number of layers of management they have, moving toward a flatter, more grid-like management structure.”
The Responsive Organization
“Responsiveness is becoming the key to competitiveness in the ever faster moving and interconnected global economy. To succeed, companies need to shift their focus from efficiency of process to effectiveness of outcomes.”
  Artificial intelligence could replace jobs previously held by humans …
“In May, NPR created a digital tool to calculate how likely it is that certain jobs will be taken over by robots 20 years from now. Manual-labor jobs appear to be most at risk, while jobs that require empathy, like social workers and caretakers, are least at risk.”
Elements of Responsiveness
“In pursuit of adaptivity, companies are decentralizing decision-making and empowering their people with information. This increases engagement and enables continuous learning.”
   … but could also create jobs that didn’t exist before.
“Canton predicts a scenario in which humans and robots work side-by-side in the future, where new jobs could include operating artificial intelligence-based technology and old jobs could be augmented by it.”
Working Like a Network
“As the world becomes more interconnected, value creation is shifting from the individual to the collective. Resilient, high-empathy teams will drive the best business outcomes.”
 
Employers could start recruiting labor from a global pool of freelancers instead of traditional, full-time employees.
“It’s cheaper for employers, who have an entire world of workers at their fingertips, to hire freelancers as needed rather than full-time employees, as it doesn’t involve a lengthy hiring process or require them to offer benefits like health insurance or social security.”
Leadership in Transition
“The role of the leader is changing, yet it’s more important than ever. To create adaptive organizations, leaders need to actively shape an open culture that fosters collaboration and builds trust.”
 
Retirement could become a thing of the past.
“People are living longer, and the cost of living keeps going up, requiring many to keep working much later in life. Younger generations also aren’t saving money for retirement the way their parents’ generation did, because they can’t afford it.”
The Social Workplace
“When you can work from anywhere, why go to the office? Human connections and serendipitous encounters matter more than ever. Modern workplace design needs to be intentionally designed to foster collaboration and tacit knowledge exchange.”
 
Workers may demand more of employers, leading to even more career hopping.
“A “future of work” report from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that people will continue shifting away from the one life, one career mentality — an already observable trend among millennials. Workers will follow their passions as they change, and for many that also means changing careers.”
A Spectrum of Spaces
“Our future workplaces should inspire people to do their best work, both individually and in teams. They will provide a richer variety of spaces to support the full range of human activities and needs.”
 
Employees could be monitored, and not just at work.
“The PwC report also envisions a world in which employers can monitor and screen their employees at a much more advanced level: “Sensors check their location, performance and health,” the report states. “The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests.””
Unlocking Creativity
“Automation is changing the nature of our jobs. While many jobs will be eliminated, automation and intelligence will also help us focus our attention on what matters most, create new forms of value, and allow human creativity to flourish.”
 
More companies could dissolve traditional offices and headquarters.
“Coworking spaces are becoming more and more popular, not just among freelancers and entrepreneurs but also corporations that can use them to relocate employees. Dissolving the traditional office headquarters would enable companies to hire the best candidates all over the world regardless of proximity to a central company hub.”
 
Driverless cars could make the morning commute faster and easier.
“Both Price and Dr. Canton imagine a world in which driverless vehicles could eliminate mass transit and transportation jobs, but on the positive side, these cars could potentially eliminate daily commuter traffic, not to mention crashes and fender benders.”

 

Even if their words are different, we see some major things that are supposed to happen:

  • The tools we use, ranging from personal tech, via Internet of Things and self-driving cars, will include much more AI than today. Robots and computers can help us do so much more, but also do our work for us. Depending on the outcome, we might do everything from falling in love with them (as in the wonderful movie HER), or feel less valuable since they take our jobs, or invade our privacy.
  • Work is what you do – not where you are. This has been a mantra in the Digital Workplace area a few years, and all the above confirms that this is happening. Here, the technology can help us be more free than today, since we carry it with us all the time. Already today, many physical meetings can be replaced by Yammer, Skype or the like. This could also have an effect on the environment, since we travel less. And given that the boundaries of ordinary office work disappears, we feel more creative and can perhaps solve problems in new ways.
  • The traditional ways of running companies have soon had its time, it seems. People will get more tired of traditional hierarchies, strict policies, and the long pointless meetings staring at PowerPoint files. Already today, some companies such as Hootsuite and Digital Workplace Group create more virtual teams of experts. There is no point in itself of replicating the ways companies worked in the 1900s.

This leads us to the third outlook on the future: The Future of Jobs by World Economic Forum (see below). Here we see that Creativity is taking a big leap from number 10 to number 3 between 2015 and 2020. Complex Problem Solving is still number one, and might be enhanced by our AI buddies. And given the networked world we seem to be creating, that is where the Emotional Intelligence at place 6 in 2020 might come in: Robots and computers can only do so much the coming years, and we need to build trust to each other even if we don’t meet physically:

Top10_skills_WEF

If all the above are correct descriptions of what might happen to our work and workplaces, a lot will happen:

  • Companies need to be ready to restructure to allow more creative and free flowing work. Some employees might leave since there are networks of people that allow them to work more freely. And they must take care of the workers whose jobs are replaced by machines.
  • For us as individuals, we need to handle new skills to survive. We need new methods of learning, such as Personal Knowledge Mastery and Working out Loud. If we are unlucky, we are replaced by machines. If we are lucky, we can avoid the mundane and boring things and focus more on the unique skills that make us human.

I will continue to elaborate on these ideas, and the above is only a start in creating the mental landscape of the future of work. This post by no means covers all the things necessary to take on the future. But is is a start.

 

Create – the fifth C and the humane digital workplace

This is the sixth post on my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and was followed up with “Connect“, “Communicate“, “Collaborate“ and “Coach“.

The fifth and final C is Create, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Create is that we:

  • Are responsive, adaptive and open to new ideas
  • Dare to do things differently
  • Challenge the traditional ways of working
  • Come up with continuous improvements

Over the years, all companies change and create new ways of working. The idea here, is to being in charge of these changes, instead of only letting the outside world demand them from you. And these new, creative ways of working don’t always need to be revolutionary. For example, upgrading to a very well functioning intranet can make paper forms and administrative tasks a distant memory. Virtual teams distributed in time and space can work together, complementing traditional structures. And by introducing tools such as Yammer, we can replace some of the dark silos created by e-mail.

As a customer oriented company, we also constantly see if there are new ways to innovate. Also here, it is not always about revolutionizing everything at once. Rather, we constantly make sure our processes, tools, and skills evolve. Here, I also come back to the people that inspire me to do more and better:

  • Use Working Out Loud by John Stepper to bring ideas in to the open, and see where they take us.
  • Be inspired by other ways than e-mail to collaborate thanks to Luis Suárez, and others.
  • Use the current methods for communicating internally and externally thanks to experts like Rachel Miller and Gloria Lombardi.
  • Don’t journey alone. Let the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) and their friends guide you in modern ways of working.
  • With a new world comes a new way of learning. Let Harold Jarche and others guide you on this journey.
  • Collaboration is at the center of everything we do, as Oscar Berg and others clearly emphasize.

Now, the next step is to make sure we truly bridge the 5 Cs with the ideas from the digital workplace domain. The goal remains: Creating a humane digital workplace, based on our values and culture.

Coach – the fourth C and the humane digital workplace

This is the fifth post on my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and was followed up with “Connect“, “Communicate“ and “Collaborate“.

The fourth of the Cs is Coach, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Coach is:

  • Success is embedded in the actions of yourself and those you work with
  • Experience, creativity and contributions of others is appreciated
  • Exchange of best practices

Coaching has become an industry of its own. This is not the focus of this post. Instead, we should explore how we can coach each other on a daily basis in a global company. Most probably, it is a matter of having the right mindset. As an employee and human being, you can always teach someone else something new. But you can always learn something from a fellow human too. So coaching each other should move in both directions: Knowing when to offer it within your expertise area, and knowing when you should be open for receiving coaching.

Much of this will happen via face-to-face discussions and meetings. Here, coaching falls into the informal learning and the 90% that is not formal learning via the 70:20:10 model. For example, see how Michelle Ockers explores 70:20:10. Many companies spend a lot of money in the formal training area, and feeling rather comfortable using these methods. Informal learning, however, is not about diplomas and certificates. It is about finding sound ways to learn and coach each other via our daily work.

There are of course also digital tools that can assist coaching and social learning. For example, I presented more on this at IntraTeam in Copenhagen, via “The 5 Rs of Social Learning applied to an intranet“. It was my first attempt to apply the ideas of Jane Hart on an intranet. Launching an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) can also be promising. It opens up a company globally, and people can easily coach each other in writing, with badges and more.

At Haldex, we have just migrated the content from the old intranet. With the new year comes great opportunities to level up and take the next steps. By applying the ideas of informal learning and Personal Knowledge Mastery, we can support coaching in great ways the coming years. And of course, by applying the ideas of Working Out Loud, it is much easier to coach each other: Be open about what you need, and others can help you.

Collaborate – The third C and the humane digital workplace

This is the fourth post in my journey towards working with a humane digital workplace. It started with “Building a humane digital workplace” (listing the 5 Cs) and followed up with “Connect – the first C and the humane digital workplace“ plus “Communicate – the second C and the humane digital workplace“.

The third of the Cs is Collaborate, and the 30.000 feet overview of our intent with Collaborate is:

  • Focus on the team
  • Engage and work together
  • True team player
  • Appreciate diversity

Here, my first thought immediately went to Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and the work of Harold Jarche. He mentions collaboration and cooperation in several posts, such as “In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration” (2012), “Extending collaboration toward cooperation” (2013), and “Retrieving cooperation” (2014). Should we, in a professional environment, ignore the collaboration and go for the cooperation instead? I would say no: We all need to start where people often do their daily business, and then incorporate more. It is not either-or.

In the 2012 post above, Harold posts the continuum all organizations live on:

colaboration_cooperation_2012

By starting in the structured and goal-oriented corner and collaborating in work teams, we can accomplish a lot. Collaboration is not worse than true cooperation. In fact, as Harold shows in “Cooperation in the networked workplace” (2013), they complement each other:

collaborate_cooperate_small

One goal for us on the journey towards a humane digital workplace, could be moving towards cooperation. With a sound base in Work Teams, we can incorporate more Communities of Practice and Social Networks along the way. We already explore these in our company, but we could engage even more people and use the right tools to do it.

There are also other things I have started relating to Collaborate, when it comes to typical things mentioned in the digital workplace:

  • It must be easy to create and maintain virtual teams, no matter your device. This could be done in tools like Yammer or Slack.
  • We make it mandatory to fill in your expertise and your photo on out intranet, so others can find you easily.
  • We could set KPIs that measure that you have actively contributed via the collaboration channels we provide. Exactly how, I am not sure of yet (or even of we should do it). But we could surface the fact that you engage actively in collaboration also in the social sphere.

Other thinkers that can guide us here are for example (there are of course many more):

We could probably do more in exploring which tools fit Collaboration, Communities of Practice, and Cooperation. The above posts are great. Meanwhile, we get several new tools per year it seems, but now we have a continuum to measure them against.

Building a humane digital workplace

One of the things that attracted me to Haldex, was the focus on building and maintaining the strong culture. Above, you see an introduction to our culture and its relation to our strategy, as described by our CEO and our VP of Human Resources. Meanwhile, for several years I have been interested in building the digital workplace, but felt that something vital was missing. Why the focus on the digital per se? Why not focus on the goal of building a digital workplace? And how do we incorporate more of Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery, Jane Hart's Learning in the Social Workplace, and John Stepper's Working out loud?

When I bought Amanda Sterling's book "The Humane Workplace - People, Community, Technology", the road ahead seemed clearer. In my mind, of course we are aiming to create a more humane workplace, and all companies need to do it their way. That is why the above culture movie is an important start in this work: If culture eats strategy for breakfast, then all efforts to improve a company must start with the culture.

In the coming weeks, I will work more with mapping the typical digital workplace measurements (thanks Digital Workplace Group) to our culture. It is an experiment, but most probably worth doing. Hopefully, other professionals want to join me on this journey.