Blog Posts & Resources

May 13th, 2015


Work & Learning

The pattern of discovering new knowledge, thinking deeper about that knowledge and then sharing what you have learned or learning are the steps taken when practicing the “seek – sense – share” framework created by Harold Jarche.

My Background

I grew up in Sudbury Ontario, the mining and smelting capital of  the world. After numerous jobs in the mining industry, I recognized that my greatest satisfaction came from working and learning with others on social issues. Read more…

PKM, Workplace-Network Learning

Social Determinism Theory and Me

January 29th, 2018

Over the past few years I’ve shifted my work interests (getting paid for work with non-profits) to addressing issues related to senior’s health. In particular my interest included matters related to:

  • accessibility & inclusion;
  • isolation & depression;
  • belonging & social connections;
  • recreation activities to improve health.

Harold Jarche’s ongoing posts on the evolving nature of work is a good mirror that helps me make sense of my changes. Simply put, my current work with seniors gives me a greater sense of autonomy, continued (and expanding) use of my skills (competence) and finally a greater sense of belonging with people through my work.

Below are the 2 references that triggered my self reflection on how SDT is impacting my life.

Harold Jarche’s Post – a compass for the future of work

It is certain that we cannot tell the future. We don’t need a roadmap for the future of work. Instead we need a good compass. That compass should be based on what we know about being human. We do know what motivates people. According to self-determination theory(SDT) there are three universal human drivers: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We need some control over our lives, we want to be good at something, and we want to feel that we belong with other people. These drivers are what make us do what we do.

“That is, the social context can either support or thwart the natural tendencies toward active engagement and psychological growth, or it can catalyze lack of integration, defense, and fulfillment of need-substitutes. Thus, it is the dialectic between the active organism and the social context that is the basis for SDT’s predictions about behavior, experience, and development.

Within SDT, the nutriments for healthy development and functioning are specified using the concept of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. To the extent that the needs are ongoingly satisfied, people will develop and function effectively and experience wellness, but to the extent that they are thwarted, people will more likely evidence ill-being and non-optimal functioning.”

When we look at the future of work, the loss of current jobs, and the effects of automation we should use the SDT compass to guide us, not a list of what the jobs of the future may look like. These maps get stale too quickly. In preparing for this new world of work, policy makers and organizational leaders should look at how they can enhance autonomy, competence, and relatedness for everyone. The future of work will then take care of itself.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation and personality. SDT articulates a meta-theory for framing motivational studies, a formal theory that defines intrinsic and varied extrinsic sources of motivation, and a description of the respective roles of intrinsic and types of extrinsic motivation in cognitive and social development and in individual differences. Perhaps more importantly, SDT propositions also focus on how social and cultural factors facilitate or undermine people’s sense of volition and initiative, in addition to their well-being and the quality of their performance.  Conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence,and relatedness are argued to foster the most volitional and high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity. In addition, SDT proposes that the degree to which any of these three psychological needs is unsupported or thwarted within a social context will have a robust detrimental impact on wellness in that setting.

Workplace-Network Learning

Education as Stewards and Purveyors of our Collective Wisdom

February 16th, 2017

Stephen Downs ((Half an Hour) posted in the Working Smarter Daily website on an un-attributed report appearing in document from the New America Foundation. I thought Stephen’s points of disagreement in the article were bang on. In particular I liked how Stephen described the purpose of education and the importance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Over the past few years I’ve been involved in efforts to de-fragment the the education, employment training, employer community and government policy sectors. Essentially my interest was to stimulate dialogue among these players that could lead to a more coherent and effective youth employment training strategy.

Stephen’s counter point post is well worth a review, particularly for individuals who are trying to create new strategies to address the complexities of our networked economy and the post job era. His last point brought home the real purpose of education.

It’s not a question of whether or not colleges and universities are “worth saving”. To view the question in such terms is to treat them merely as economic entities and assessing them against their financial value. But they are just vessels.

What we have, in societies around the world, is a millennia-old legacy of educational institutions as stewards and purveyors of our collective wisdom not as an engine of employment or economic development, but as the reason employment and economic development exist.

Workplace-Network Learning

Modern Workplace Learning

February 14th, 2017

In a new post by Jane Hart she shares current research on 5 factors driving modern workplace learning. I’ve taken part in her online modern workplace learning sessions and I really appreciate Jane’s approach. In this post I was encouraged to see that mainstream corporate institutions (Microsoft) are finally embracing and implementing practices that support workplace learning.

Non profit organizations typically don’t have a Learning & Development department. The L&D departments at least are a default component that is taxed with carrying out modern workplace learning – for better or worse.

My goal (hope) is to help non profits invest time and resources in fostering modern workplace learning in their structure. These 5 factors provide a foundation for organization leaders to consider integrating modern workplace learning practices into their operations.

Five Factors Driving Modern Workplace Learning

  1. Digitization
  2. Changing Learning Habits
  3. Multi-Generational Workforce
  4. Exponential Information Growth
  5. The Emerging Gig Economy


Workplace-Network Learning

Tool Kit for Filtering News & Taking Civic Action

February 5th, 2017

truthometer-190x300I’m learning how to filter news and just about any information or media I come across (online, print, video).

I think improving your filtering skills has become critical. We are getting flooded by fake news, disinformation and propaganda.

It is becoming more apparent (at least to me) that with the arrival of Trump politics citizens need to take more responsibility for figuring out where information is coming from and what are the verifiable elements in news stories.

Here is a post that has given me a guide for improving my news filtering skills.

Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy tookit for a “post-truth” world

We were guaranteed a free press,  We were not guaranteed a neutral or a true press. We can celebrate the journalistic freedom to publish without interference from the state.  We can also celebrate our freedom to share multiple stories through multiple lenses.

But it has always been up to the reader or viewer to make the reliability and credibility decisions.  It is up to the reader or viewer to negotiate truth.

Media Literacy, social learning, Workplace-Network Learning

Civic Innovation – the Internet of Cities

February 4th, 2017

As I wade through the many articles and opinion pieces on what is happening around the world with our economy and the future of work, I came across this post by Dylan Hendricks. The Near-Term Future of Democracy and Civic Innovation: The Internet of Cities

I thought Mr. Hendricks framing of the problem as a failure of our governance structures was spot on.  He makes a case for the Internet of Cities and gives us a series of steps that can help cities stabilize and move through the turbulence. There is much to consider in this post. His assessment provides new rays of light that hold promise.

Dylan Hendricks is the Director of the Ten-Year Forecast at the Institute for the Future. Speaker and researcher on mythology, the future, and the mythology of the future.

The Problem:

It’s becoming clear that global governance bodies like the UN and WTO are failing to stabilize and maintain the post-WWII geopolitical order. Global growth has stagnated.Multinationals acquire each other at unprecedented rates as nations compete for their largess. Conflict is brewing around the world, manifesting in frequent bursts of civil unrest and factional warfare. All this, and climate change and political upheaval have fomented the worst migrant crisis in modern history.

Most national governments now face an existential battle on two fronts: protecting themselves from their own disgruntled populations, and defending against foreign governments vying for power in the next wave of global dominance. It’s as though we’re in one big Mexican standoff between every country and religion and tribe in the world, all pointing guns at each other while we wait for the next big shoe to drop. That’s how Russia, though economically beleaguered and globally isolated, has found itself so powerful suddenly — it’s a good time to be a chaos agent.

The problem, of course, is that this current class of platforms have broken free of national constraints by riding the commercial infrastructure of multinational corporations. This isn’t in itself a problem, but where these private ventures have been phenomenally successful in developing compelling experiences and technologies, they’re neither incentivized nor equipped to navigate the social contracts that governments and the public have hammered out over centuries of hard-earned progress. Airbnb provides an incredible service to its customers and a novel revenue stream to its providers, but it disrupts low-income housing as much as it does traditional hotel chains. Another way of saying this: these platforms have already become too important to be managed entirely by individual companies.

The Solution, Step 2: Enter the 21st century city-state.

Residents in Austin, Texas and Barcelona, Spain have already discovered what happens when local regulations push Uber out of the local market: a dozen equivalent services emerge to fill the void. With their relatively self-contained infrastructure, populations and industries, cities might represent the ideal scale for governance and policy in the wild west that is the twenty-first century global economy.

Cities, of course, have always played the role of cultural catalyst during times of historic transition. Democracy was birthed through the powerful city states of ancient Greece, and Baghdad once sparked a golden age of science and art that spread across medieval Arabia. Today, individual cities like Sao Paulo and London provide the economic engines that power entire countries.

More importantly, real democratic work can likely get done in cities in a way that is currently impossible in the western climate of cold civil war. While national divides are complex, the easiest predictor of whether somebody voted Democrat or Republican in the 2016 American election wasn’t whether they were white or educated, but whether they lived in a city or not. In the Brexit vote, 75% of Londoners voted to stay in the EU against the will of a thin majority elsewhere in the country. Like it or not, residents of cities currently agree a lot more on the fundamentals than the entire populations of nations do.

And unlike nations, cities are inherently governable. They are large enough to implement meaningful system-wide policies, and small enough that residents can reasonably influence those policies through council hearings, mayoral elections, and local protest. And while only one-in-five Americans trust the federal government to make the right decisions, nearly three-quarters trust their local and city governments. Cities like New York and San Francisco have already pledged to use the many means at their disposal to protect against unwanted federal policies during the Trump administration.

social learning, Workplace-Network Learning

A Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy

June 25th, 2016

PGRI’m into the first chapter of People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy and it is shaking me to my core. (Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols)

On a quick scan of this book, I was blown away by the historical research and deep understanding of the evolution of our economy and the world of work. I recognized right away that it was an important book that will deepen my understanding of the intersection of the new network economy, disappearing jobs,and the role of government, education and private sector.

Most importantly I felt that this book will help me make sense of  the challenges that lay ahead for young people entering the 21st century workplace.


Below are few excerpts that I think give a very small flavour of the book.

An example given early in the book (still reading it) refers to the bankruptcy of Kodak. In 1988 this company employed 145,000 workers. Instagram was a company that empowered people to use instantaneous photo sharing tools on their smart phones. It had 13 million customers and employed 13 people. Instagram was bought by Facebook. The total employment at Facebook in March 2015 was 10,082, only 7% of Kodak’s employment figures.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 – Into the Maelstrom

Most reform proposals are dismissed as impractical and relegated to the nether-world of the loony Left, before they can even see the light of day.

The reason for this is clear: The United States is not a democracy, if by democracy we mean a government by the people, and for the people. That is the big lie of the official discourse. If anything it is a “citizenless” democracy, an oxymoron if there ever was one. The only voice that ever matters in American politics, the voice that shuts down every other, is that of the wealthy few for whom creative destruction is a business practice rather than a threat.

The book underscores the need for imparting new skills to young people. The world has permanently shifted to the network era and a digitally connected, always on world. For the most part, we (global society) are out of step and far behind in terms of preparing young workers for this new world of work. I’m excited by the realistic picture this book is presenting while pointing out possible ways to address the profound changes in our political and economic systems.

I will add more posts on the themes presented in this book. I will also integrate some of the ideas into any work I do with organizations around 21 st century workplace.

Workplace-Network Learning

Professional Ecosystem – Controlling & Self Directing Your Career

May 11th, 2016

Jane Hart, in her Learning in the Modern Social Workplace website has envisioned a new framework for articulating (understanding) how individuals can become more efficient on their job and take greater control over their careers.

In a constantly shifting landscape where jobs and organizations are constantly changing and often times disappearing, workers are developing their own eco system for managing their careers.

I like her evolving perspective on the 21st century workplace because it makes sense on so many levels. The professional eco system (PES) framework is unique for each worker and controlled by each worker. the framework connects strongly with Harold Jarche’s Professional Knowledge Mastery (PKM) process.

In Jane’s post she describes the shift of responsibility for improved workplace performance on to the workers and away from management. The days of personal learning management systems controlled by a department that dictates what workers need to learn on the job is over.

Jane’s full post is titled The Future of Work and Learning 1: – The Professional Ecosystem.

Essentially, I was describing a Professional Ecosystem (PES) – a set of organisational and personal, interconnecting and interacting elements – content, people, software, services, apps, etc – that helps an individual

  • do their job
  • solve performance problems
  • communicate and collaborate with others
  • self-improve (for their existing work and/or future career), as well as
  • keep up to date with what is happening in their industry or profession so that they remain relevant and marketable.


Collaboration in the Workplace, Workplace-Network Learning

Work is No Longer a Destination

May 1st, 2016

Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, imagines what might be possible if more organisations embraced the full, empowering potential of technology & encouraged an open, collaborative & flexible working culture. Thanks to RSA Animates for this very cool presentation.

I’m connecting with people in my networks on the subject of improving worker and organizational performance. It’s a subject I’ve immersed myself in over the past few years. I’ve also participated in many online and inperson learning experiences on workplace change and the role of workers in the 21st century network economy.

Over the last years I’ve considered launching this workshop series however other priorities put my plans on hold. As well, I wan’t totally ready on a personal level. I was going through many  major changes in my life and my energy to take on this plan just wasn’t present. I feel that I’m am much more organized and ready to step more into the public realm and share more with my networks, individuals and organizations.

My early background is youth development & mental health, community development, youth employment and adult education. These sectors face a barrage of complex problems affecting their communities and service recipients. Since 2009, I’ve being providing consulting services related to online web communications, online communities of practice and social media utilization for improved performance for workers and organizations. Over the past four years I’ve focused on in network learning for organizations and workers.

My workshops will be based on Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning and Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery framework.  My goal is to help helping workers and organizations be more efficient and purposeful in the 21st century workplace and network economy. As Jay Cross from the Internet Time Alliance so famously quoted “seize the day”.

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, Workplace-Network Learning

Letting go of Control

December 30th, 2015

In this video, Harold Jarche explains his Personal Knowledge Mastery or PKM framework. The video is succinct and gives a solid context for understanding  the importance of PKM for personal and professional development.

For organizations, the challenge will be for management to adopt a new mindset that reduces even eliminates control of how their employees connect, learn and share in and outside the organization.

Harold’s post opens up the issue of democracy in the workplace. Organizations are formed using a hierarchical (top down) control model. In the emerging network era workplace, transparency and trust are the drivers for survival of the organization.


Network Learning Era

December 14th, 2015

Our work and business environment is more complex than ever. Communication (digital) technologies, automation and  outsourcing practices are all aspects of living in the network era.

We work, play, consume and communicate in an always on, networked world.

There are myriad reports and research reports that describe how we (organizations and workers) are in a transition from the knowledge/information era to the network learning era.

In the network era, how well you connect, create and collaborate with others determines your value. Soft skills of empathy, creativity, sharing and sensitivity are the foundation for success. Technology skills and tools just help you along the way.

Embracing a continuous learning mindset is a prerequisite for learning workers and organizations. More than ever we need to strengthen our ability to learn how to work with others more effectively and organizations need to learn how to open up their hierarchical silos and tap into the creative and innovative capabilities of their staff.