I’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)
I’ve been tracking changes in the youth job training sector for some time. I’m interested in how education, non profit organizations, government and business sectors can more effectively prepare youth for work in the 21st century.
One 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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Jane Hart has developed a body of work that she refers to as Modern Workplace Learning (MWL). Harold Jarche has become internationally respected for his writing on the digital network era and its impact on the workplace. Harold’s framework is called Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) or the “seek-sense-share framework. I’ve taken online workshops with both Harold and Jane and I’m a member of the Modern Workplace Learning Association.
Workshop Series: Modern Workplace Learning
Using both Harold and Jane’s “frameworks”, I’m creating a workshop program targeting the nonprofit sector. The primary goal is to introduce the guiding principles and practices of the MWL and PKM frameworks. I believe nonprofits as change agent organizations are obligated to support workplace learning because it leads to improved performance and engagement outcomes for their constituents and for themselves.
Constituents served by nonprofits need workers who can guide and support them in using continuous learning skills to help meet their health and livelihood needs. In this way consumers of nonprofit services will have improved skills and opportunities to manage their life in the digital network era.
In my lengthy experience in the nonprofit sector, I’ve not seen an organized framework approach that supports workplace learning. What I’ve experienced is intermittent supervision and yearly performance reviews as the standard approach to ensure job requirements are met. Those processes have little to do with workplace learning.
The skills and mindsets integral to modern workplace learning can be practiced and learned. They will be a significant components of my workshop program.. I also believe that MWL and PKM frameworks, once integrated into nonprofit worker’s repertoire will lead to the development of new services that will enhance user’s (the public/community) capacity to meet the challenges of employment and health in the digital network era.
In the business and corporate world, workplace learning is the role of the Learning & Development (L&D) department. Like other industrial age institutions, L & D is becoming extinct as workers can and do manage their own learning and professional development. The L&D industry is slowly letting go of their control of the workplace learning environment with the recognition that their traditional training programs are unwelcome and ineffective.
By default, nonprofit workers use their own devices to connect and learn, however there is little evidence of nonprofit practitioners working within and supported by a continuous learning framework. Also, I’ve not seen leaders within organizations using a structured approach that supports workplace or organizational learning.
Poverty, addictions, homelessness and mental health are complex problems. More than ever, these social problems require a continuous learning mindset of practitioners. Nonprofit practitioners, most of whom are steeped in humanistic values and hired for their engagement and counselling skills will need to move from a knowledge worker mindset to a learning worker mindset.
My modern workplace learning workshops will introduce workers and organizations to a structured (or personally constructed framework) approach for increasing performance and engagement results. In the spirit of working out loud, I will be sharing more about my workshop building process over the coming months.
For the past year and half, I worked closely with two other colleagues on an online project that attempted to develop an informal social network dedicated to the worldwide crisis of youth unemployment. The informal network would be comprised of individuals concerned about the permanent transformation of jobs and the workplace and how that transformation was exacerbating the youth employment crisis in Canada and around the world.
I use Harold Jarche’s image to illustrate how we were attempting to connect knowledge flows between people concerned about youth unemployment in the 21st century workplace.
We called our initiative Youth Profit. Our goal was to develop a learning, sharing and action network that would stimulate conversation that in turn could lead to solutions to youth unemployment crisis in Canada. Initially we had a global approach but then narrowed our focus just to Canada.
In our cause, we were especially motivated knowing that youth at the fringes of society are most vulnerable from the volatile and rapid changes happening in the workplace. Evidence was everywhere that robotics, globalization and digital technologies were causing a rapid transformation to our workplace. Jobs are permanently lost and eliminated. Young people would pay the greatest price unless solutions could be found.
Kick starting solutions – we bit off more than we could chew!
Using our Youth Profit website, we posted research findings and successful projects from around the world. We assumed this knowledge might attract the individuals we needed to kickstart innovative solutions to youth unemployment. Finding the right ingredients to attract visitors and potential contributors was proving to be very difficult.
Eventually we realized that creating a global network that could share, learn and possibly find new solutions to youth employment was too broad (and complex) a task. We decided to change our catchment area to Canada and narrow our scope to the failure of the Canadian Youth Job Strategy to create jobs and relevant training experiences for unemployed youth. We also recognized that there is a systemic failure in Canada for the education, nonprofit, government and private sector to work collectively and collaboratively on youth unemployment.
Despite the lack of cross sector cooperation, we believed that individual leaders from the non-profit, business, education and government sectors might put aside their silo behaviour and see the wisdom of cross sector collective problem solving on youth unemployment.
Using our online sharing platform we attempted to stimulate discussion and action on youth unemployment and training. We wanted to connect with individuals who understood the crisis in youth unemployment in Canada and who would welcome an opportunity to share their insights and contribute to collective solutions.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time and energy needed to connect with sector leaders. The work was beyond our capacity and we had concentrate on our families and earning an income. We chose to end our sweat equity work after our third attempt to secure start up funding was not successful.
What I learned
I believe that our goal of initiating large scale systemic changes to the youth employment training sector was very ambitious but naive. The three of us had a loose network across Canada that we could tap into however those network connections were not strong enough to initiate cross sector, informal discussions about the permanently changed workplace and potential solutions to youth unemployment.
Here are a few thoughts on what I think we accomplished.
We created an online repository of knowledge featuring projects and countries that were succeeding with policies and practice. (research, successful projects, countries with progressive policies etc.)
We provided assessment and commentary on issues related to youth employment and training;
We field tested a interactive online platform that could lead to informal collective creation of practical solutions to the world wide youth unemployment crisis.
I learned that a systemic approach involving education, non profit, government and private sector individuals is very difficult. It is fraught with pitfalls, mind fields and rigid silo thinking.
I learned that working with individuals as opposed to large systems offers more opportunities to succeed.
I learned that there is potential for this project to succeed providing there is willingness for cross sector collaboration that spawns communities of practice which would in turn give birth to new projects that address youth unemployment.
I learned that informal sharing in an online network requires trust and time.
I learned that had we invested more time and energy with key people early in the process we may have succeed with Youth Profit. (see resource links below re. Trust)
I see this initiative as “on the shelf” but not forgotten. I’m now focusing on working more on the individual organization and practitioner level rather than trying to engage high level systemic sectors. I’ll be doing this through workshops and consulting services with Social Media Tools for Work and Learning.
Further Reading – Post Job Economy & Network Solutions
We show that over the past 40 years, structural change within the labor market has revealed itself during downturns and recoveries. The arrival of robotics, computing, and information technology has allowed for a large-scale automation of routine tasks. This has meant that the elimination of middle-wage jobs during recessions has not been accompanied by the return of such jobs afterward. This is true of both blue-collar jobs, like those in production occupations, and white-collar jobs in office and administrative support occupations. Thus, the disappearance of job opportunities in routine occupations is leading to jobless recoveries. –Third Way: Jobless recoveries
Most routine, standardized work will be automated, as we enter The Second Machine Age. Any process that can be analyzed and mapped is the raw material for a machine, whether it be a computer or a robot. Cashiers, bank tellers, managers, and lawyers are some of the vocations that have been automated. In the near future, taxi drivers, analysts, and researchers will join them.
In order to take action and make decisions, we need access to the best information we can get. A network that is constantly creating content to share, and having conversations around it, can make better decisions. This is the business value of social networks. But it is all based on trust, for without trust, there is no sharing. Realizing the business value of enterprise social networks takes not just time, but also active and effective knowledge sharing.
What is your organization doing to foster trusted relationships in the workplace?
I’m organizing a workshop that encompasses Harold Jarche’s (and others) framework for working in the 21st century.
The core of this framework addresses the need for workers and organizations to drop their industrial age mindsets about work and align themselves with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century creative and networked economy.
It’s taken me a long time to think though and make personal sense of the massive changes that are occurring in the workplace and learning environment.
This workshop is my opportunity to present a critically important mechanism for that can guide workers and organizations in their development as 21st Century workers and organizations.
My workshop audience is primarily non profit sector workers and organizations. This includes workers and organizations from these sectors: Employment Training; Housing; Poverty; Health; Consumer Survivor; Education; Outreach; Settlement; Community Development ….and more…
The introduction slides for my workshop are something that I’ve struggled with but lately I’m feeling like I’m on the right track. In that spirit, I am testing out a few of my workshop slides by publishing them. In this way I get a deeper feel for how they sound and how best to present this framework.
Becoming a 21st Century Network Learning Worker/Organization
This workshop presents a framework for you and or your organization to construct a set of lifelong network learning skills such as:
Discovering a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your work.
Taking greater control and ownership of your professional and career development skills.
Creating opportunities for you to Increase your creativity, innovation and networking abilities thereby adding value to any organization you work in now or in the future.
Sharing amongst colleagues is difficult in a work environment where the leadership style is top down and controlling.
Sharing your ideas with your co-workers, making sense out of what you are doing and then integrating your new ideas into your projects is a cyclical process. There comes a time when you feel it’s time to put what you have learned out to a wider audience.
An example of this sharing, learning and publishing process is evident in a Project called Youth Profit. We (a small group of 3 founders) believe that there are solutions to be found for addressing the wicked problem of youth unemployment in Canada.
With automation, artificial intelligence, outsourcing, and digital technologies driving the network economy, jobs for young people have permanently disappeared. 21st century skills are needed for future jobs but the employment training community, driven by an outdated Canadian Youth Employment Strategy is stuck.
Government, private, education and non-profit silo’s are the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. The employment training sector is stuck with a mindset of industrial age thinking about jobs and security. Sharing ideas, learning together and innovating is not an embedded practice in those job training agencies.
Our small innovation group thinks that an online platform that draws out fresh innovative ideas generated by leaders from the government, non profit, education and the private sector can lead to potential solutions. Solutions that can be further field tested and implemented if the field testing shows promise.
This is silo busting and cultural shift work. I think that organizations that support their innovators are the ones that will succeed. With our project, we have little power to change how institutions (education, government etc) support their innovators. What we can do with Youth Profit is provide a place for employment training innovators to share their knowledge and possible solutions for a crisis affecting Canada and the world.
In this link, there are a series of videos that illustrate how five major companies are supporting and relying on their innovators to build innovations. There are plenty of tips and insights that you can use in your organization or to advance your innovation skills.
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.
Hugh McLeod’s business art gives me inspiration in my blogging and stimulates new ideas. His website is aptly named Gapingvoid – motivational art for smart people. Hugh captures the essence of living, learning and doing business in the always on network world.
I believe the best way to manage your career in the network economy and the 21st century workplace is to adopt proven frameworks that help you hone your skills and guide your career development.
My primary frameworks are: the Seek-Sense-Share (PKM) framework developed by Harold Jarche and the Modern Workplace Learning Framework (MWL) developed by Jane Hart.