The Brothers Karamazov and existential philosophy

The Brothers Karamazov is a philosophical masterpiece that invites readers to consider some of the most fundamental questions of the human experience. Written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the novel is a nuanced and deeply moving exploration of themes such as the nature of faith, the existence of God, and the search for meaning.

At the heart of the novel are the Karamazov siblings – Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha – each of whom grapples with these philosophical questions in their own unique way. Dmitri, the eldest, is torn between his duty to his family and his desire for personal freedom, a conflict that echoes the ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialist philosophers who emphasize the individual’s freedom and responsibility. Sartre argued that individuals are “condemned to be free,” meaning that they are constantly faced with choices and must take responsibility for their actions. This idea is reflected in Dmitri’s struggle to reconcile his obligations with his own desires.

Ivan, the middle brother, grapples with the existence of evil in the world and his own sense of morality, a dilemma that has been explored by existentialists such as Martin Heidegger and Søren Kierkegaard. Heidegger, in his work “Being and Time,” argued that individuals must confront their own mortality and the meaning of their existence to live authentically. Ivan’s questioning of the existence of God and the nature of evil can be seen as an attempt to grapple with these existential questions.

Alyosha, the youngest, serves as a foil to his siblings, embodying a more spiritual and compassionate approach to life that is reminiscent of the philosophy of figures such as Gabriel Marcel and Paul Tillich. Marcel, a Catholic philosopher, emphasized the importance of human relationships and the role of love in finding meaning in life. This can be seen in Alyosha’s compassionate and loving approach to others. Tillich, a theologian, argued that individuals must overcome their “anxiety of meaning” to find true fulfillment. Alyosha’s spiritual quest can be seen as an attempt to do just that.

Through their interactions and conflicts, Dostoevsky paints a portrait of the human condition that is both complex and deeply moving. The Brothers Karamazov is a novel that invites readers to consider the big questions of life and how they relate to their own experiences, and it remains as relevant and thought-provoking today as it was when it was first published over 150 years ago. Of course, the above nod to existentialism is just the start, but it is a start.

Whether you are a seasoned reader of philosophy or simply looking for a challenging and rewarding literary experience, The Brothers Karamazov is a must-read. It is a novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page, inviting you to continue the conversation and explore its themes in your own life.

Image depicting the epigraph in the Brothers Karamazov, Luke 12:24.

The Brothers Karamazov and Kierkegaard’s four stances toward life

I have always been fascinated by the ways in which the characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov can be understood and interpreted. One approach that I find particularly interesting is to consider the characters through the lens of Søren Kierkegaard’s four stances towards life: the aesthetic, the ethical, the religious, and the absurdist. I turned this blog post into a YouTube video as well (see below).

In this interpretation, the father, Fyodor Karamazov, could be seen as representing the absurdist stance. He is characterized by his focus on pleasure and the present moment and is more concerned with enjoying the sensory experiences of life than with its deeper meaning or purpose. This is reflected in his hedonistic lifestyle and his neglect of his responsibilities as a father.

The eldest son, Dmitri, could be seen as representing the aesthetic stance, which is characterized by a focus on pleasure and the enjoyment of life. Dmitri is deeply concerned with sensual pleasure and the immediate experience of life, and his actions and choices are often driven by these desires. However, this focus on the present moment also leads Dmitri to struggle with moral dilemmas and the consequences of his actions, as he tries to reconcile his desires with his sense of right and wrong.

The illegitimate son Smerdyakov could also be seen as representing the aesthetic stance. Smerdyakov is described as being deeply cynical and hedonistic and is primarily motivated by his own desires and the pursuit of pleasure. He is also portrayed as being deeply aware of the inherent meaninglessness and absurdity of existence and seems to reject traditional systems of morality and meaning.

The middle son, Ivan, could be seen as representing the ethical stance, which is characterized by a commitment to moral values and principles. Ivan is deeply troubled by the existence of suffering and evil in the world and grapples with questions of morality and the nature of good and evil. This struggle ultimately leads Ivan to reject traditional systems of belief and meaning, as he confronts the limits of reason and the inherent absurdity of existence.

The youngest son, Alyosha, could be seen as representing the religious stance characterized by a belief in a higher power or transcendent reality and a focus on spiritual matters and the search for meaning and purpose in life. Alyosha is drawn to the teachings of Elder Zosima and seeks to find solace and understanding in his faith. However, he also grapples with the inherent meaninglessness and absurdity of life (especially through his father) and must find a way to reconcile this realization with his belief in a higher purpose or meaning. Overall, these four stances can be seen as representing different ways of approaching and understanding the experiences and challenges of life and can provide insight into the motivations and struggles of the characters in The Brothers Karamazov. Whether one is more drawn to the hedonistic desires of Dmitri and Smerdyakov, the moral dilemmas faced by Ivan, the spiritual search of Alyosha, or the meaningless existence of the father, there is much to discover and contemplate within the pages of this classic novel.

This blog post as a video (““):

Image depicts Dmity, Ivan, and Aliyosha

Ivan and Alyosha Karamazov: A Greek Tragic Hero and a Christian hero

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan Karamazov is a complex and multifaceted character who embodies many of the qualities of a modern Greek tragic hero. Tragic heroes are characters who are doomed to suffer and fail due to their own flaws or weaknesses, and who struggle to find meaning and purpose in a world that is often cruel and arbitrary.

Like some Greek tragic heroes, Ivan is a deeply philosophical and intellectual character, who is obsessed with ideas and questions about the nature of God, free will, and the meaning of life. He is constantly questioning and doubting and is willing to engage with complex and challenging ideas even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. This intellectual curiosity and bravery are admirable and make Ivan a hero in his own way.

At the same time, however, Ivan is also deeply troubled and suffering, torn by guilt and self-doubt. His quest for truth and understanding ultimately leads him down a path of despair and nihilism, as he becomes convinced that there is no meaning or purpose in the world, and that God is either non-existent or malevolent. This sense of despair and hopelessness is tragic and makes Ivan stand close to the tragic heroes of Greek myth.

We can also relate Ivan’s hero to his brother Alyosha, who is more of a spiritual hero. Both men share the same father and mother, and they both strive for purity but in very different ways. As a course at Harvard noticed, there is an important distinction that you can make in German between Reinheit and Lauterkeit. While the precise meanings of these terms can vary depending on the context in which they are used, they are often associated with ideas of purity and honesty.

Reinighet is often translated as “cleanliness” or “purity,” and refers to the state of being free from dirt, contamination, or impurities. It can be used to describe a wide range of things, including physical objects, ideas, or abstract concepts. This is the purity the Greek hero Ivan pursues, who wants to wash away all distractions and dark thoughts.

Lauterkeit, on the other hand, is often translated as “honesty” or “fairness,” and refers to the quality of being open and honest with oneself and others. It is often associated with ideas of integrity, righteousness, and moral virtue. This is the purity the spiritual hero Alyosha pursues, who instead wants to transform the darkness into something positive, and therefore he wants to join the monastery.

So, yes, heroism is present in the Brothers Karamazov, but in a multitude of ways, especially as expressed by Ivan and Alyosha.

Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay

Schopenhauer and the knowledge illusion – why we never think alone

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you really understood something, only to realize later that your understanding was limited or incomplete? If so, you’re not alone. This tendency to overestimate our own understanding is known as the “knowledge illusion,” and it’s a topic that’s explored in depth in the book The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.

“We think we know much more than we do and that we do much more of the thinking ourselves than we actually do. We are highly dependent on other people and external resources, and we are often unaware of this dependence,” explains the authors.

But what might have caused this illusion of understanding? One possibility is the concept of the “will to knowledge” discussed by 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. According to Schopenhauer, the “will to knowledge” is a driving force behind the human desire to understand the world and ourselves. However, Schopenhauer also believed that true knowledge is ultimately unattainable, as it requires us to understand the world as it really is, independent of our own subjective experiences and perspectives. As Schopenhauer put it, “The subject knows only its own appearances, not the things themselves.” This means that our attempts to understand the world are ultimately limited by our own subjectivity.

This idea connects to the “knowledge illusion” in that it suggests that our understanding of the world is necessarily limited by our own subjectivity and that we may overestimate our own understanding as a result. The concept of “cognitive outsourcing” discussed in The Knowledge Illusion, in which we rely on external resources such as books, the internet, and other people to help us think and make decisions, can be seen as a way of trying to overcome this subjectivity and gain a more objective understanding of the world.

So, what can we do to combat the “knowledge illusion” and make better decisions? One solution is to be aware of our own limitations and biases and to actively seek out diverse perspectives. “When we seek out diverse perspectives, we are more likely to discover what we don’t know and to correct for the biases and errors in our thinking,” explains the authors. By recognizing that our understanding is necessarily limited by our own subjectivity, we can be more open to learning from others and more likely to discover what we don’t know.

As Schopenhauer wrote, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” By being open to diverse perspectives and acknowledging the limitations of our own understanding, we can move closer to a more accurate and complete understanding of the world.

Image by Gerhard from Pixabay

Why “Experts” Keep Getting It Wrong

Management theorists lack depth, I realized, because they have been doing for only a century what philosophers and creative thinkers have been doing for millennia. This explains why future business leaders are better off reading histories, philosophical essays, or just a good novel than pursuing degrees in business.

I just read “The Management Myth: Why the “Experts” Keep Getting It Wrong”, a book written by Matthew Stewart. It challenges the traditional ideas and practices of management in modern businesses. In his book, Stewart argues that the current system of management is based on flawed assumptions and that it is in need of a major overhaul. Basically, it needs more Schopenhauer, Kant, and Jung, than it needs Taylor.

One of the main ideas that Stewart explores in the book is the concept of expertise. He argues that the current system of management relies heavily on the idea of expertise, with managers being viewed as the experts who have all the answers. However, Stewart asserts that this notion of expertise is often misguided and that it can actually hinder progress and innovation.

“The idea of expertise is a trap. It seduces us into thinking that we know more than we do and that we can predict the future with greater accuracy than is possible. It lulls us into complacency and dulls our senses to the possibility of surprise.”

Stewart also critiques the way that modern businesses are structured, arguing that they often prioritize short-term profits over long-term sustainability. He argues that this focus on short-term gains leads to a lack of innovation and a failure to adapt to changing circumstances. It also leads to an all too positive view of what new shiny technilogy can do, dating all the way back to the beginning of the industrialisation:

This confusion of facts and values—or, more generally, the attempt to find pseudotechnical solutions to moral and political problems—is the most consequential error in Taylor’s work and is the cardinal sin of management theory to the present.

The book also brings up a thing I have noted when swithcing from privately owned companies to working for the City of Malmö:

“The main problem with the modern business enterprise is not that it is inefficient, but that it is a machine for the production of the wrong things. It is designed to produce profits for the benefit of a small group of shareholders and executives, rather than for the benefit of society as a whole.”

It is very liberating to not have a board of directors I never meet but who decide if I am needed or not, and to always work for the next quarter. Instead, we are in it for the long run and work for the great of the public instead of shareholders. A nice change.

Finally, the book brilliantly presents the steps anyone who worked with a management consulting firm has seen:

  1. Marketing (The Luring). Fly in “experts” from around the world, never to be seen again. Hold “conferences.”
  2. Diagnostic (Halloween). It’s trick and treat time. First, scare the pants off them. Crater their self-esteem. This requires what is known in the trade as a “trick.” A trick is a quick and easy analysis that will produce predictably horrifying results—predictable for you, horrifying for them. Consultants spend years honing these tricks. Second, offer to give them their self-esteem back in exchange for your treat!
  3. Implementation (Eating the Brain). The key to establishing an enduring presence is to colonize key functions in the client’s central nervous system. A good place to start is the planning function.
  4. Follow-ons (Metastasis). You’re already expanding deep inside the client organization, so think like a cancer.
  5. The Breakup.

It all ends in sending a hefty bill and the planning for a new round.

Of course, there are management consultants that can bring value. But after having read this book, written by a management consultant, I will be very cautious regarding whom to hire.

Image by maximiliano estevez from Pixaba, portraying a healthily sceptical manager.

Using mental models to evolve your digital workplace

Mental models are what they say: The models in our head that help us understand the world, connect ideas and sort out what is relevant to us. They are representations of the complex world around us and can help us both personally and professionally.

Let’s say you are asked to take your intranet or digital workplace to the next level. You can do this in many ways of course, but several mental models can help you take these steps. There are hundreds of mental models, and here I only list a few but list more models at the end.

Start with the vision, not the technology

Far too many intranets and the discussions we have about them, are based on the technology and not why we do what we do. This way you can use any award-winning platform and still fail miserably since there is no strong reason for the intranet to exist. It just simply exists. If you do the opposite by using models like Impact Mapping, and start with the vision and end-user needs, the intranet you build will be much better no matter the technology you use. Therefore, you should be cautious when a platform vendor sells features to you before asking what you want. My advice is to set a vision for the intranet, talk to the users and follow their daily work, and ser a few strong reasons for the intranet. Not until this is done are you allowed to look at how the technology should be handled.

How can you kill your intranet?

When the famous investor Charlie Munger was young, his work included helping his fellow men land their planes safely. So, the question he asked was “How can I kill these pilots?”. That’s not the question most of us pick perhaps, but under it lies a very strong mental model called inversion. By knowing how to kill these pilots via ice and lack of fuel, he inversely also knew how to save them by avoiding these hazards. For an intranet, inversion is listing ways you could kill your intranet, and then reverse them one by one. If we use inversion on an intranet and list how it could be awful, the list might include:

  • The intranet has an uptime of 10%.
  • There is no way to search.
  • You cannot use it outside the work building.
  • The UX/UI is ugly and confusing.
  • The intranet is not based on user needs.

If we turn these around and have an intranet that has an uptime of 99%, has a good search, can be used all over the place, has a good UX/UI, and is based on user needs, we have a decent intranet already there. This means, that if you first list the ways you could kill your intranet and do something about them, you end up with an intranet many would use.

Find the 20% of efforts that represent 80% of the results

A mental model that is related to inversion is the 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto principle. Originally about 20% owning 80% of the resources, it can now be applied to many business areas. Most probably, 20% of your intranet content has 80% of the traffic, and this should be easy to find. And the reverse is true as well: 80% of your time should be spent on 20% of all the things you can do as an intranet owner. And these can be linked to the ways you could kill your intranet. 80% of your time should be spent on understanding user needs, ensuring the UX/UI is great (including the navigation), optimizing the search, and training people on how to search, and use the intranet.

Understand the complexity level of your priorities

Dave Snowden and his friends have an excellent model called Cynefin for analyzing the complexity of a situation. Without going into all the richness of Cynefin, we can use its four parts as a map for understanding the complexity of what you have prioritized for your intranet. Let’s see some examples using the Cynefin domains:

  • Easy: You can teach people how to search on your intranet. There are clear rules and best practices for this, and a straightforward connection between cause and effect: Search the wrong way and the results are bad, search the right way and the results are good.

  • Complicated: There are no longer any best practices but only good practices since the problem can be approached in several ways. This means you should not trust vendors that talk about ‘best practices where in reality they are ‘good practices. An example of the complicated domain that depends on the context and culture of the organization, is designing a champions program for an intranet. It can be done in several different ways.

  • Complex: The cause and effect are very blurry here and you need to explore the environment as you go. For example, increasing the digital literacy for 400 different professions among 30 000 users can be done but needs a lot of work to land right.

  • Chaotic: No clear cause and effect, and a time to navigate the chaos. Here lie the typical technology-heavy areas of today, with virtual worlds very few have tested (or can see the reasons for), costly and vague ways to use AI to improve the end-user situation and all the things based on engineering dreams rather than the vision of the intranet.

As the novelty wears off and the market matures, today’s chaotic, complex, and complicated situations can jump one or several steps in the model. What used to be complicated can then have a best practice.

Let many small things create a big momentum

Many of us live in a culture that has goal setting at the center, and that uses goal shaming to point out why people aren’t “succeeding”: If only you set some grand goals, acted on them, and tracked them every day, you would be happier. But what many of us have experienced is that the grand goals, inspired by gurus and teachers, fall flat since we seldom know how to go from where we are today, to this grand goal.

A good way to overcome this is by using what has been called atomic habits or using the compounding effect where many small changes lead to big changes over time. So, instead of saying that one year from now we will the best intranet in the world (whatever that means), you can improve the intranet by 1% every day. This is hardly noticeable for you or the end users, but it is the consistency that will get you there. If you improve something by 1% per day, it is theoretically 37 times better after one year. And the opposite: If you make the intranet 1% worse every day, you will have a useless intranet after one year. 1% improvements for a day can include:

  • Talking to an intranet user to understand their needs.
  • Improving the search by adding a best bet.
  • Doing a tree test on a small part of the menu.
  • Suggesting how to improve the readability of a text.

These are some examples and I look forward to testing these models and more. For those of you who want to explore more mental models, please see these:

Photo by Mike Hindle on Unsplash

A new life in Malmö begins

During the first two years of the pandemic, I was fortunate to work 100% remotely at Play’n GO and the Digital Workplace Group (DWG). Two world-leading organizations in their respective fields, with many challenges and opportunities. But with no offices (DWG) or offices hours away (Play’n GO), I started to feel isolated. So, after two years of digital team meetings, the time came to do something else. By then, a job I really felt sounded right for me appeared, and since May I am the product owner of the intranet at Malmö Stad with access to three offices although the job is done from home as well.

Since then, I have become a key player in the team, plus met a lot of skilled and awfully nice people who work at Malmö Stad since you can do a difference for a lot of people. I am also a member of the steering group for acquiring a new learning management system (LMS) and a member of a team focusing on Working Smarter. This means I not only feel less isolated. I can also take on a broader approach to intranets and digital workplaces. With 27 000 employees, Malmö City is a big employer, and the better we collaborate and innovate in our teams, the better the service we can provide to the citizens of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city.

A very rewarding thing that also happened is that I was selected to be one of the judges in the Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards, held by the legendary Step Two people. Humbling and awfully fascinating to see so many skilled and devoted entries, which of course also gave me insights on which kinds of intranets and digital workplaces are awarded and why. I also managed to record the 27th episode of “Att vakna ur meningkrisen” (in Swedish) – my interpretation of the work of professor John Vervaeke. Plus a recording in English on how I use the application Obsidian to structure my knowledge work around the Brothers Karamazov.

I am in a good place now, which you can tell also by me posting more often on LinkedIn. The time has come to work closely with the world-leading experts to see how far we all can take our work.

Photo by Pontus Ohlsson on Unsplash

How I learned to play Fortnite

Even since my Ph.D. studies in adult learning geared towards games, both games and learning have fascinated me. Meanwhile, I work with learning in the workplace and the difference between those two worlds can have any grown-up cry. The first world can be utterly removed from the real world of work, individual, very boring, and with a constant panic around upskilling and reskilling. The second world is highly immersive, gradually harder, social, and lots of fun. This is the story of how I learned to play Fortnite – a game of ‘last man standing’ for individuals and teams with a storm that kills, lots of weapons and ammo, and berries, and purple birds and dinosaurs. And swearing and laughing as 100 people on the island get fewer and fewer in a smaller place.

I started playing Fortnite a couple of months ago, to see what the fuzz is about. My oldest (now 12) has played it a few years and I first associated it with a lot of screaming and cursing. Then the playing and the players matured and now they mostly engage vividly with just the occasional cursing. I decided to learn to play Fortnite, after soon 20 years with World of Warcraft (WoW) and these are the main ways I used to get into the game:

  1. Just get in there and play and be a big loser. You will suck hard at this, and people will laugh at you. But there you are playing among the best 80 of 100 players, and it’s ok. Soon enough you see what works better just by trying things out and using the epic spectating function in Fortnite: After someone kills you, you can spectate what they do. And if you are lucky, this was not just a fluke shot from a noob, but a skilled moved from a good player. Just sit back and relax to see how they play.

  2. Play with people who are much better than you and who can tolerate that you kind of suck. This player for me has been my son. When we play as a duo, we win in 90% of the cases. He tolerates that I am not at all as skilled as him, but he guides me towards success. One thing I never get is how he knows what I do, which gear I have, which enemies to attack, if they are one-shots or not (have low health so another shot is enough), and where the enemy is. This without sitting in the same room as me, meaning he just knows after playing so many hours (and no, it’s not a cheat).

  3. Checking YouTube for occasional tips and tricks on how to perform certain moves. I have found that the films on the funnier side, like this one noobs, pros, and hacker skills, are easier to watch since they just show the flow of the game. I watch the step-by-step tips-and-trick movies more seldom since they feel more like instruction. Could be helpful but are less fun.

  4. Taking formal 2-hour e-learning courses on the history of Fortnite with quizzes demanding that I score 80% correct and where the correct answer is always the longest. Ha, ha, ha.

After playing for some time, playing with others (step 2 above) totally dominates my learning. The 10–14-year-olds know all the tactics, weapons, ways in and out, enemy movement and skills, and build craft, so I just need to be in it and soak it up and practice it.

One of the best books on learning and games is James Paul Gees’ “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy” and at the end, he lists 36 learning principles (here with my comments). We can easily see that many of these still apply, such as:

Active, Critical Learning Principle: All aspects of the learning environment are set up to encourage active and critical, not passive learning.
–> You learn to play Fortnite by being active (see point 1 above). Just get in there. If you are passive, you will be an easy target and die. And by being active, you learn.

Semiotic Principle: Learning about and coming to appreciate interrelations within and across multiple sign systems (images, words, actions, symbols, artifacts) as a complex system is a core to the learning experience.
–> This is true for any game where, in the beginning, you don’t know what for example epic, one-shot, or double movement are. You learn as you go. Such as in WoW: Try being in a party and pick up something that is BOP and that another player needs more than you, and the social setting will teach you a thing or two.

Multiple Routes Principle: There are multiple ways to make progress or move ahead. This allows learners to make choices, rely on their own strengths and styles of learning and problem solving, while also exploring alternative styles.
–> There are many ways to be the best of 100 people in Fortnite. I thought I had come up with something great when I landed on the outskirts and slowly moved towards the center. I could collect weapons, not meet as many, and be in more control. Until I heard from the 10–14-year-olds that this is how the noobs play, of course. Experienced players land in the most crowded city since the fighting is fierce (and resembles end fights more), the weapons are plenty, and you do less running from the storm. Two very different ways that work but based on different mindsets.

Transfer Principle: Learners are given ample opportunity to practice, and support, transferring what they have learned earlier to later problems, including problems that require adapting and transforming that earlier learning.
–> This happens all the time between matches in Fortnite, or after respawns in WoW. In one game you learn that attacking a heavily armed guard just for the hell of it is fun for a very short time if you have a pickaxe. In the next game, you find a way around him (so-called ‘reskilling’).

Achievement principle: For learners of all levels of skill there are intrinsic rewards from the beginning, customized to each learner’s level, effort, and growing mastery and signaling the learner’s ongoing achievements.
–> You are always challenged at the right level in Fortnite and when you are rewarded it looks just awesome (see top image). A.k.a. ‘upskilling’.

It can be easy to say that gaming is one thing and corporate learning another. But remember that this is how our kids grow up now and how the gaming world has worked the last 20 years. Meanwhile, what has happened to corporate learning? We still talk about gamification, learning management systems, mandatory training, testing via multiple-choice, social learning as if this is something new, and pushing heavy content as if it should land in people’s brains, instead of challenging them.

Trust me, mastering Fortnite and WoW is really hard. So, let’s wait for the kids to show the way. They never took a course in Fortnite but are masters of it. And have fun doing so.

What are the steps for building a sound learning culture?

I asked this question on LinkedIn the other week since the learning culture can decide if any learning initiatives succeed or fail. Of course, there is no set recipe to follow, but this is what I and others discussed:

1. Ground everything in the company strategy and its goals, and make sure continuous learning, curiosity, trust, and empathy are central aspects of doing business. If you have, as Clark Quinn stated, a Miranda culture, you will not succeed. In such a culture, everything you say can and will be held against you and people will hold back from sharing since they might be punished for it later.

2. Leaders, all the way to the CEO, must set an example and be role models for learning. People do what these leaders do, not what they say. Top management also needs to co-create and backup all choices regarding the learning platform, intended skills in relation to the strategy, providing time for people to learn and experiment, change management, and more.

3. Ensure all employees understand what learning at work is today and how to practice it openly every day. Working out loud, Personal Knowledge Mastery, Modern Workplace Learning, 70/20/10, and more will guide them to the best possible learning based on their needs. People should be talking about learning, sharing interesting things, and encourage others to do the same. Marcia Conner’s Learning Culture Audit can create a picture of where you are now and provides a roadmap for what to aim for.

4. Use the best platforms and content services available to give life to the educational guidelines and company goals above. There are many platforms out there but select the ones that are right for you. Make the training, coaching, and stretch goals relevant, timely, and, targeted (thanks Nigel Paine). Ensure that, before you launch any courses as the solution for anything, analyze how the learning transfer over to real problems will occur using Will Thalheimer’s Learning Transfer Evaluation Model (LTEM).

5. Build for the future using a champions program with the people who are inspired by the above and want it to work for their team. They will, together with the leaders in step 2 help make learning a natural part of work. As Harold Jarche says “Learning is work, and work is learning”. Make sure to hire people that have this approach to learning.

Finally, as the learning culture is maturing and people talk more and more about learning, it can be easy for them to slip back to the old way of thinking where courses were meant to solve it all. An excellent source of knowledge to avoid this is Cathy Moore’s Will Training Help, where you clearly see that training is not always the answer. It might be the culture or something else that hinders people’s performance.

The post on LinkedIn is here, for anyone who is interested.

Existentialism in times of deep distress

I hear quite a lot about positive psychology and its focus on the good things that make life not just tolerable, but worth living. Meanwhile, we live in a dystopic pandemic and I have read too much Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Dante, Huxley, Camus, and Nietzsche to accept the basis of this psychological movement as the only truth. Then I bumped into Jordan Peterson’s series where chapter 12 talks about some of these authors, and about existentialism. And Jordan is not happy about the positive psychology:

“Happiness is basically extraversion minus neuroticism, and we knew that 15 years ago.”

This means that, if this is true, we need to increase our chances of spontaneous joy and talking about things that interest us, while decreasing withdrawal in the face of uncertainty and being less irritable and upset when things go wrong.

Jordan carries on:

“People are not like the utopians think. We don’t want it easy. We don’t want it comfortable. We don’t want it good. And the reason for that is we’d be bored stiff. “

This, in turn, echoes, Dostoyevsky:

“Shower upon him every earthly blessing, drown him in a sea of happiness, so that nothing but bubbles of bliss can be seen on the surface; give him economic prosperity, such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep, eat cakes and busy himself with the continuation of his species, and even then out of sheer ingratitude, sheer spite, man would play you some nasty trick.”

So maybe, during these immense hardships, it might be the existentialists that can guide us. For the existentialists it is a fact that we are mortal, and vulnerable, and prone to suffering. Inescapably. And that we are willing to pay that price to have a life worth living. And if this is true, then we can turn the suffering of this miserable pandemic into something that makes life worth living. Life is not easy at all. But this is also how we grow. Meanwhile, #fuckcorona! It is a horrible, parallel universe that have changed nearly everything we know and feel. People are dying everywhere and we have never been this lonely and sad. But this is what it is to be human, too.

Let’s end this with Pascal and the existential ‘thrownness’:

“When I consider the brief span of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and behind it, the small space that I fill, or even see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces which I know not, and which know not me, I am afraid, and wonder to see myself here rather than there; for there is no reason why I should be here rather than there, now, rather than then.”

So please remember: We are here now, and we are here together. And as long as we are here, we can help each other. We are still alive.

Photo by Loren Gu on Unsplash