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Thursday, June 02, 2016

How to prepare for the future of work – human-machine collaboration, humanisation, education

Today’s Australian Financial Review features an article Ross Dawson on the future of work (and how to prepare for it), drawing on an interview with me.

Direct quotes from me in the article include:

“Human history is all about the automation of work,” he says.

“Right from the plough through to the spinning Jenny through to the automobile, through to any number of other inventions. They all destroy jobs. And at the same time we have always created more jobs than we have destroyed. The automation has been of jobs which have not been that desirable.

“There is a case you can make that we will continue to be a prosperous society and have meaningful work because we are continuing to unfold work which plays to our uniquely human capabilities.”



“In many domains we have seen that humans working with machines are superior to machines working alone or humans working alone.”

“The big story is not about humans being replaced with machines, this is about how we find ways in which humans and machines can be complementary and provide value,” Dawson says.

He says successful organisations must ensure that their staff learn continuously. “That must be embedded into every job, every role, everything we do.

“[Primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions] need to understand the extraordinary pace of change of the nature of work. None of them are adequate for people for a very different world moving forward.”

Individuals must also take responsibility for their learning trajectory.

“The organisation needs to provide facilities for it and the individual needs to take responsibility for being able to drive that and do that themselves.

“Every institution of every kind, we all need to be thinking what is it we can do now which will shift us more toward that ability for us to have, not just full employment but richer, more valued, more worthwhile employment.”

You can read the full article here.

The post How to prepare for the future of work – human-machine collaboration, humanisation, education appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.



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Friday, April 22, 2016

Swimming in a lake or rowing down the river

We seem to be addicted to busy. Does the busyness help? Does it hurt? Do we swim around in a lake, getting nowhere? Or do we row down the river, ensuring we don't get stuck?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Democratic renewal or else...

Democratic culture is at a low ebb and in decline – unless something changes we could pay a high price, argues Matthew Taylor.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Focus on the processes, not the tools

I see a lot of projects within business support organizations that look like "implement this tool." And then the organization is surprised when the project takes much longer than expected and the tool doesn't get used to the extent expected.

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Curiosity

When I was growing up my parents were forever taking us for "trips" whether locally or further afield. They still set off, in their eighties, in my Dad's sports car, to explore Dorset where they now live. My wife Penny shares this inclination to go places and discover new ones we've not been, so we have visited and got to know much of the wonderfully varied countryside of Britain and beyond. Needless to say the girls are growing up with the same willingness to follow their natural curiosity and see more of the world than is brought to them via their TV screens. In contrast many of their friends it seems never go anywhere except for school, shopping, and the annual foreign holiday.

And it's not just going places, it's exploring ideas. The girls will often comment that their fellow pupils seem incredibly blinkered in their ideas as well as suffering from a lack of travel itch. Even basic questions about why things are the way they are, why people behave the way they do, and inquiry into different philosophies and world views appear to be virgin territory. They wonder what sort of conversations take place over their schoolmates' breakfast tables and contrast this with our willingness to pick up an idea, throw it around, and leave it gasping for breath on the floor as we tussle with everything from politics to religion and everything in between.

This lack of curiosity seems to me to be at the root of so many of our problems. Yes it may be easier to pass through life asleep, and yes they may be happier not being riddled with self doubt and existential angst as we can sometimes be, but we all only get one shot at this. The willingness to wonder why, to explore beneath the surface, to break away from the norm out of a desire to explore the world and to address its problems seems so important and the more of us who do it the more likely we are to cope with our unpredictable futures.

To miss so much of what life has to offer seems a shame individually, and a willingness to sleep through the sort of challenges facing civilisation at the moment, seems a waste at the very least and an avoidance of responsibility at worst.



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World Bank - Take-aways from the 3rd High Level Meeting on Country-led Knowledge Sharing

This week I had the privilege of participating in the World Bank's 3rd High-Level Meeting on Country-led Knowledge Sharing in Washington DC. An amazing event attended to around 1000 people from 73 different countries. With thanks to the organizers, here are a few of my take-aways...

1. What can the public sector learn from the private sector?
Jean-Claude Monney's keynote talk on Microsoft’s knowledge management initiatives prompted one of the most stimulating questions asked of HLM3 panellists. ‘What can the public sector learn about knowledge sharing from the private sector?’. It is true that the private sector has pioneered many knowledge sharing techniques.Howeve having worked in both sectors, I would observe that public sector organizations also have much to offer the commercial world. 

Public, and especially third sector organizations, have a unique advantage that those with a predominantly commercial imperative may not; intrinsic motivation. Having worked with many dedicated people at the World Bank and with charities, I am struck by their personal sense of wanting to ‘make a difference’. In behavioural economics terms, this is a huge advantage. A request for help, clearly articulated and effectively disseminated to those with know-how, will usually elicit a positive response. However capability is often limited (time, communication tools, more important delivery and performance targets). 
My take-away? Provide effective channels, facilitate connections and foster the right intrinsic motivation through leadership.



2. Supply and demand.
The first day of HML3 seemed to focus predominantly on the demand side of knowledge sharing. The identification of lessons and knowledge ‘capture’ were extensively discussed. However ‘sharing’ requires both supply and demand for reciprocity. It was therefore refreshing that day 2 touched on the supply side too. I don't mean producing shelf-ware or supply where there is no evident demand, but thinking about how codified knowledge might be effectively found and consumed. Co-creation of knowledge, facilitation of peer-to-peer connections and evidence-based decision making came up time and again in the breakout sessions as critical techniques for making sure knowledge supply and demand are connected.

Examples provided were the altruistic sharing of blindness prevention program results in Tunisia and UNICEF helping four East African countries make real-time health clinic data widely available. Sergio Escobar explained of how Medellin, Columbia has made their experience of turning around a crime-ridden city, available to other cities. He stressed the need to make their results adaptable to different contexts. These examples showed real understanding of the importance of expressing lessons through the lens of those who need the knowledge, rather than simply writing a case-study. That's smart supply.


3. Measurement and leadership
Session moderator Karen Mokate asked the important question ‘how do you measure success and impact’. Ian Thorpe from UNICEF stressed that experiential knowledge cannot always be codified; indeed simply connecting practitioners has real and immediate value*. He observed that ‘Knowledge sharing is a catalytic process; in itself, it does not have a defined rate of return’. Perhaps a measure of knowledge sharing success is that demand for know-how and expertise is matched by supply. In other words, there is an observable virtuous cycle of creation, adoption and adaption of knowledge.

Another common refrain, particularly in the breakout groups, was the importance of real leadership in effective knowledge sharing. That’s not just ‘buy-in’, but for example, asking questions about how learning from success have been disseminated and change effected. True knowledge leadership publically acknowledges the learning opportunities from failure.

4. What would I like to have heard about?
Innovations that I thought might be examined in the context of country-led knowledge sharing are the amazing innovations in Artificial Intelligence and the Blockchain. These could be considered as technologies designed to simply make automate transactions and drive down costs (in themselves not unimportant for knowledge sharing). Their real potential is that, in a world of increasing complexity and the data firehose, they free up cognitive capacity to make smarter sustainable development decisions, better anticipate outcomes and reduce risk.











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Monday, February 29, 2016

"I don't care"

It's the easiest thing to say, the most reliable "get out of jail free" card, the ultimate side-stepping of life.

When faced with mind numbing routine, or overwhelming challenges, not caring seems attractive. It's shields us from the vicisitudes of life, against the grazing and scraping as we are buffeted by our challenges, a balm for our jangled nerves.

But it is corrosive and addictive. It becomes a way if life, a shell in which we can hide, an excuse we can all too frequently give ourselves.

And then one day it's too late. We've lost the ability to care, we don't care that we don't care. Our lives are out of control, freewheeling aimlessly, a recollection of unease our only memory of a time when we cared.

We should take more care...



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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

How the Mighty Fall: Part II

At the most straightforward (superficial?) level, the “undisciplined pursuit of more”—Collins’s stage 2 in his framework of decline—would seem to follow logically and almost inevitably from stage 1, “hubris born of success.” The logic is nearly syllogistic: “If we’re successful, and we’re great, who wouldn’t want more of this? Let’s go for it.” Collins, I’m […]

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Friday, February 05, 2016

Reinvent Australia: how can we shape a positive future for nations?

A few days ago I attended the launch event of Reinvent Australia, organized by Annalie Killian of Amplify Festival at PwC’s Sydney offices. It was a very interesting event, digging into the issues of how we can bring together many people’s ideas to create better futures for nations. Graham Kenny, President of Reinvent Australia, described

Continue reading Reinvent Australia: how can we shape a positive future for nations?

The post Reinvent Australia: how can we shape a positive future for nations? appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.



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Shoot your own videos - beyond the talking head



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Social media doesn't cause problems, it exposes them.

Time wasting, narcissism, gossip, abusive behaviour, the list of negative things that the social media is accused of is endless.

But it is us who indulge in those behaviours, who cause trouble, who act without concern for our impact on others. Seeing this as the fault of technology is an excuse. It lets us off the hook and allows us to expect someone else to take the blame.

The same is true at work. Organisations fret about the impact of staff using enterprise social networks, claiming that the tools cause time wasting and indiscretion. But those systems simply surface issues, or risks, that were always present. They were just unseen and not dealt with.

Whether at work or at home we should be more willing to feel our discomfort, take it personally, squirm a bit, think about it, learn from it.



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Learning to switch off

Thanks to our ubiquitous devices we are more vulnerable to other people's expectations than ever before. Whether it is our boss, colleagues, or even family, the number of people who can cause our phones to ping, shake, and flash has never been greater.

At work there has been an assumption for years that everyone is sitting at their work stations playing ping pong with emails and any response slower than instant is cause for rising frustration and paranoia. Now that we carry our connections with us all the time this assumption has escaped the confines of the office.

Instead of enjoying our lunchtime walk to the sandwich bar we constantly fret "Did they see my great idea in that email I sent them?", "What if they didn't think it was so great?", "What if they are laughing at it with the folks they are drinking with in the bar?", "I wish I'd been invited to the bar". And on it goes...

We have to learn to walk away from all of this. To choose to turn it off, in our heads as well as in our phones. Turning off those visual and audible alerts; leaving the phone behind sometimes; only replying to emails in batches at either end of the day and putting in a note in your email signature that this is your new way or working.

We only have ourselves to blame. If we aren't in control of our time and attention - who is?



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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Teaming with Young Guns

To attract and retain the young employees who are coming to dominate the workforce, companies should turn to a fresh take on a mature concept: teaming.

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