Knowledge Management workshop results

Last week, I held a workshop on building a learning organization, including applying knowledge management. I was invited to the Omnia End User Conference in Stockholm, organized by Precio Fishbone that develops the award-winning Omnia suite for Office 365, which we also use at Haldex.

During the workshop, I asked the participants to list common areas in their organizations where knowledge transfer of best practices could help them excel. Such areas could include both learning from other people’s mistakes, as well as building on each other’s knowledge. We had a great mix of public and private companies in the audience, and organizations ranging from a few hundred to more than 20.000. When we started talking, however, we quickly noticed that we share many knowledge transfer problems. No matter where you work, being the owner of an Office 365 environment, sure has its challenges and here are some that we all shared:

  • The ever-increasing knowledge gap between what Microsoft delivers, and the knowledge of the end users. Just a couple of years ago the challenges were smaller, but now we all experience the fire hose of new apps and have a hard time keeping up. And it is not enough to know the app itself – we should also know how to apply it successfully in our organizations.
  • The view of learning needs to change both at HR and among the end users. You can’t sit around and wait for courses to be assigned to you. If you want to learn Teams, the internet is there for you Each person must take charge of their learning journeys, know what they need to succeed, know who can help them, and know who to ask for help when they don’t know where to turn. Here, Personal Knowledge Mastery, Modern Workplace Learning, and Mental Models can help.
  • Best practices for handling projects once they are over. It is easy to install a project site and bombard it with files over time, but harder to know what to save or not at the end to preserve the essential lessons.
  • Reaching out to frontline workers no matter if they build products, install products, sell products, or anything else. These people know both the products and customers by heart, and we need good ways to transfer their knowledge to others.
  • Knowing how to make managers all the way to the CEO share their insights. Survey after survey all highlight the absolute importance of managers taking the lead as users of Office 365 (document handling, Teams, Yammer, and more) and as communicators. For example, by installing a management blog as we have done at Haldex can be a start, or to ask questions via social channels so people know their answers are appreciated.

There are, of course, many more areas where sharing of best practices can help us, especially when we focus on each organization. But here we found areas where we all could agree on no matter where we work. We will now start to share best practices via Precio Fishbone’s Yammer feed for their customers and via LinkedIn and more. Many of us feel alone when handling Office 365 rollouts, but by reaching out and learning from each other, we can build a community where there are always people who listen.

Photo by Aubrey Odom on Unsplash (we’re in this together)

L&D and the Digital Workplace are merging

Last week, I spent two days in Belgium including the beautiful town of Ghent, pictured above. The reason for my visit was to collaborate with my colleagues at Haldex when starting our e-learning efforts globally. Since they are subject matter experts and I have a background in professional education, including instructional design, we could find a mutual road forward. Frankly, I was so glad to return to the e-learning discussions again after spending years with intranets and the digital workplace. Then it dawned upon me that those two big areas in my professional life are merging, which I also wrote about in a LinkedIn post that sparked quite some interest.

The reason for this interest is probably since a lot of people also feel Learning & Development (L&D) is about to take a big leap forward in the coming years. People such as Jane Hart and Harold Jarche (see the LinkedIn post for their profiles) have long been advocating Modern Workplace Learning and Personal Knowledge Mastery as an integral part of working. Meanwhile, my focus the last years, the digital workplace, is taking big steps in this direction too. By using Delve for AI-driven profiles, Yammer for supporting communities of practice, and SharePoint to structure files so staff can re-use them, L&D and the Digital Workplace are merging. Add a modern Learning Management System (LMS) that includes modules for performance support and can be integrated into SharePoint, and you have a solid ground to stand on.

I used to work as an instructional designer, and now work as a communications manager with a focus on building a learning organization based on knowledge management and the digital workplace. I guess those professions will merge more and more and that the formal titles will mean less. No matter if you are an instructional designer, L&D manager, or communications manager, your role is to help others understand the world, work smarter and learn better. I so look forward to the coming years when much will change for the better.

How we learn – some reflections

Thanks to Clark Quinn’s article Two good books on learning, I decided to read one of his recommendations: Benedict Carey’s How We Learn. It turns out the book is quite focused on the way students learn in school, and on a brain focused cognitive science view of learning.

Benedict divides his book into four sections:

  1. The cognitive basis of learning, based on how the brain works.
  2. Techniques to help us hold on to facts better.
  3. Comprehension techniques to turn facts into useful tools in our daily lives.
  4. How to use the subconscious to support learning even better, such as by sleeping (causing the image choice in this post).

Regarding the tips the book covers, Abhijit Bhaduri made an excellent overview in The Times of India:

These are all tips and tricks we can test on school children. For example, start by launching the final test and let them fail at it. Then follow up with training on the things they failed at by using spacing in time with flash cards to regain from dips in the forgetting curve, changing the surroundings, and getting good nights sleep. Here is a rather typical quote from the book with an example of how to learn German:

The optimal schedule is the following: Three hours on Day 1. Three hours on Day 8. Three hours on Day 14, give or take a day. In each study session, we’re reviewing the same material. On Day 15, according to the spacing effect, we’ll do at least as well on the exam, compared to nine hours of cramming. The payoff is that we will retain that vocabulary for much longer, many months in this example. We’ll do far better on any subsequent tests, like at the beginning of the following semester. And we’ll do far better than cramming if the exam is delayed a few days. We’ve learned at least as much, in the same amount of time—and it sticks.

For corporate settings, I think some of these ideas are a match. For example, try to avoid cramming in full-day sessions, allow breaks to do something completely different, use mobile learning apps to remind people between course days, and teach them how to sleep well. And of course, if you are studying for a formal test at work, by all means, try these techniques.

What I would like to complement this book with, is other views of how we create new knowledge and learn things. Just to name a few examples (there are for sure many):

So, instead of seeing this as a debate between cognitive science and social learning, I think they can complement each other also in professional settings. We do have a brain, and the better we learn how to use it, the better we can store, categorize, retrieve, and use things we have learned and experienced. Meanwhile, we are no Robisonados living on isolated islands. Who we learn with and how can be central to our success and we not only learn from collaborating in teams – we learn even more by reaching outside our teams (thanks Donald Clark for the link).

Photo by Maeghan Smulders on Unsplash.

How to take charge of your learning and development

During several years, I have engaged in Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM), especially via his PKM workshop. It has helped me not only to revise my methods on how to understand the world. It has also placed me in the driver’s seat regarding how I seek information, make sense of it, and lastly share it. A clear example is my e-book “How to avoid information overload using social media tools: Steps to feeling calmer and smarter.” It outlines the practical steps you can take to master the flow of information via Twitter, blogs, and other social media channels. I needed to make sense of these tools myself, so I might as well write a book about it.

Why I do this? Well, the world is developing very quickly, and you need to know whom to listen to in today’s vast oceans of information. Also, I never expect my employer to take care of all my learning needs and neither should you. Yes, they send me to an excellent management training over nine months in line with our cultural cornerstones, but I can never expect them to take care of all my daily learning needs.

Moreover, who knows what you will work with and where in just a few years from now? Just look at the quick changes in several markets and the heavy focus on machine learning, blockchain, and robotics. Instead of waiting for others, just make up your mind and take charge.

Recently, I thought I should level up my learning and development even more, so I ordered How to become a Modern Professional Learner by Jane Hart. I have followed Jane’s work on top tools for learning and more, and now I decided to be even more guided by her work. Her e-book begins with the 10 Principles of Modern Professional Learning, where the first principle reads:

Take responsibility for your own self-improvement, learning, and development.

For each of the 100 practical things we shall do to improve as learners, we can access an online discussion forum where we answer Jane’s questions and exchange thoughts. I find this deeply rewarding, just as I do Harold Jarche’s workshops. I will tell you more once I have come further in Jane’s book, and sure hope to surprise myself with how I develop.

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.

How #PKMastery helped me create a blog on #AI

I have attended Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) workshop twice, and they have been wonderful learning opportunities. There is a kind of meta-learning involved that I seldom experience otherwise: I learn about how I learn.

One of the images Harold uses to describe PKM is this


Image borrowed from Harold Jarche’s site

Harold describes PKM as:

PKM is a set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world, work more effectively, and contribute to society. PKM means taking control of your professional development, and staying connected in the network era, whether you are an employee, self-employed, or between jobs.

  • Personal – according to one’s abilities, interests & motivation.(not directed by external forces)

  • Knowledge – understanding information and experience in order to act upon it.(know what, know who, know how)

  • Mastery – the journey from apprentice to disciplined sense-maker and knowledge catalyst.(masters do not need to be managed)

After talking about PKM at conferences and aiming to apply it at work, I am now applying it in a new blog. Since I work in the automotive industry, there are many trends and technologies within artificial intelligence (AI) that will affect us. This is a fascinating area to me, marrying the most human aspects with the most technical. To keep track of all the top news in this area, I created a blog called The Deckard Blog – named after the main character in Bladerunner. An example post can look like this:


The blog gathers what I think are the best AI news, quotes them, and then groups them into subject categories:


This way I can, based on my own interest in and fascination in a subject, Seek the most relevant news, Sense by categorizing it and explaining it, and Share by posting on the blog.

I will see where this adventure takes me, but at least I have taken the first step.

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:


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.