Author Archive

Learning at Work – Support Innovators to Build Innovation

June 11th, 2015
Gapingvoid - Hugh McLeod

Gapingvoid – Hugh McLeod

Some of my work involves helping organizations foster learning and innovation with employees.

Organizations that tap into the creativity of their employees have greater ability to respond to unexpected and emerging issues affecting the organization’s core business goals.

Workers who are empowered or naturally understand that work is learning and learning is the work are the organization’s primary asset for success in the 21st century workspace.

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disappeared. 21st century skills are needed for future jobs but the employment training community, driven by an outdated Canadian Youth Employment Strategy is stuck.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.

PKM, Workplace-Network Learning , , ,

Simple – Meaningful – Necessary

May 13th, 2015

PlatformI learn from my online networks.

When I discover new ideas or learn from my network I feel compelled to consider sharing what I’m learning.

This pattern of learning, thinking deeper about a subject and then publishing a post is the “seek – sense – share” Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) framework created by Harold Jarche.

Another term used to describe this is process is “working out loud” a term coined by John Stepper.

Image: @Gapingvoid

Read more…

PKM, Workplace-Network Learning

Future Skills – for the 21st Century Workplace

May 9th, 2015

Blind_monks_examining_an_elephant.jpgOne of Youth Profit’s goals is to encourage dialogue and strategic thinking between the education, government, private and nonprofit sectors. These systems are like silos, acting like the preferable blind monks assigned to describing what the elephant looks like. The elephant in question is the worldwide crisis of youth unemployment. A crisis exacerbated by the demise of the industrial era and the emergence of the always on, always connected network economy. Read more…

Workplace-Network Learning

Re-creating – Refocusing my Work & Services

March 10th, 2015


Over the coming months, I will be totally transforming my website. I’ve been blogging on my Social Media Tools for Work & Learning platform for the past dozen years.

Now it is time to consolidate my learning and communicate my work more effectively and with greater clarity. As a strong believer in the benefits of “working out loud“, the changes I will be making will give me a more solid foundation for communicating with my networks.

I am very excited about the changes I’m making. My new website will focus on three areas of my interest and services:

  1. Personal Knowledge Mastery for individuals and organizations – PKM & Network Learning workshops;
  2. Addressing the world wide crisis of youth unemployment, especially through my role as Editor & website developer for
  3. Helping volunteer organizations improve their sustainability through my website development & registration/management expertise.

I’m currently immersed in several projects so this transformation (another perpetual beta project) will take some time. When ready for going live, I’ll let my networks and colleagues know where to go to find my posts.


Work is Changing – Youth Profit, a probe to explore new opportunities

September 6th, 2014

Silo BreakingI’m working with two colleagues on a new project dealing with youth unemployment. Our perspective is that work opportunities and the skills needed to fill jobs have radically changed.

In the new work landscape, traditional jobs that used to be lifelong and provide wages that could support home and families are no longer present.

Our project is called Youth Profit. In this early stage of development, I envision Youth Profit’s as a probe that will explore the new work landscape and stimulate dialogue about youth unemployment in the 21st Century workplace.

Rising youth unemployment is a complex and worldwide concern. There are successful models and projects that we can learn from. Youth Profit will encourage discussion, interview thought leaders from around the globe and stimulate new ideas for preparing youth for 21st Century workplace.

Youth Profit is creating and supporting an online space for stakeholders to connect, share design tools and exchange ideas for new youth employment training initiatives. To facilitate solutions to long term systemic barriers, Youth Profit’s advocates for closer collaboration between the education, government, non profit and the private sectors.

To give readers a background on why we are developing this project and how work is changing, I’ve included a post from the American Press Association and Harold Jarche website – shining a light on workplace transformation. Harold is a Canadian and is viewed internationally as a leading writer and “sense maker” on the changes happening to the workplace.

These two posts underscore the importance of developing solutions to complex social concerns through collaboration between the Education, Private, Non-Profit and Government sectors.

An article written by Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press, Jan. 23 2013 clearly describes the changes to the workplace brought about by technology and the 2009 recession.

NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.

And the situation is even worse than it appears.

Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.

They’re being obliterated by technology.

Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace , ,

Personal Knowledge Mastery – As an Innovative Knowledge Transfer (KT) Strategy

August 19th, 2014

I received the following question about my last post titled Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Project “what aspect of your innovative knowledge exchange (KT) are you proposing to speak to?”

I struggled with responding to this question as knowledge transfer is a concept that didn’t resonate with my approach or thinking as I formulated the project. (see end of this post for more on knowledge transfer)

I designed the project using the following frameworks and building blocks (drivers): Personal Knowledge Mastery PKM; Community Based Research CBR and Positive Psychology.

The Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping project is more about tapping into tacit knowledge that resides within communities and then  “sharing knowledge making experiences” with selected individuals and groups. I think I know what she was looking for so I’ve listed some of the key aspects that answer her question below.


Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Pilot Project

July 25th, 2014

This post is a summary of a pilot project that I’ve being working on for the past year. The project is designed to enable high school students to take a more active role as positive mental health change agents within their school.

I’m posting a description of the model so I can receive feedback and to possibly stir the interest of school boards or non-profit organizations.

In many respects, the project is a school to work initiative. Students working together on a difficult and complex problem learn from those affected by the problem and then share their learnings and recommendations with the larger school community. The skills learned and practiced in  the project are the same skills necessary for the workplace and 21st century jobs. (PDF)

As I created the model, I consulted with quite a few local Executive Directors and Managers of community based organizations that serve young people, in and out of school. Their comments were very encouraging and helpful. You can download this post by clicking here. Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Project

Excerpts from the 2010 Annual Children’s Mental Health Ontario Conference – Leadership in Times of Challenge – Child and Youth Mental Health in Ontario

Mental health and substance abuse issues are critical for school systems. A paramount concern is that mental health disorders and difficulties are closely associated with declining academic performance and poor graduation rates.

“Are you waiting for things to return to normal in your organization? Sorry. Leadership will require new skills tailored to an environment of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty”


My Background:

For many years, I’ve been managing and designing youth and community development projects. Mental illness, has been a predominant factor affecting positive and healthy development of many of the individuals served by these projects. Also, I serve as a Director on two non-profit Boards that provide programming for youth with mental health concerns and I’m a founding member of the Talking About Addiction & Mental Illness Coalition, a Regional cross sector Coalition that addresses youth mental health and addictions issues with students in our local school system.

Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

PKM and Workplace Transformation

July 14th, 2014

Harold Jarche’s blog tag is “shining a light on workplace transformation”. In his latest post titled “Four Basic Skills”, he cites a report from the University of Phoenix – Research Institute. I’m immersed in developing a new project called Youth Profit – Canada’s network for youth employment.

That said, I thought his post and the accompanying research document titled Future Work Skills 2020, very helpful as I can add that report resources section of our website. We are beta testing the Youth Profit site with a select group of colleagues from around the world and plan to launch in early August.

I’m also working on a project that will feature PKM in a school based research mapping project. This project is designed to address positive mental health, acquiring PKM skills and student achievement. The Phoenix research report connects directly with the at initiative. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more about those two projects.

In 2011, The Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix published a report that looked at Future Work Skills 2020 (PDF). The report identified six drivers of change. I’ve added links to examples of each, three years later.

Read more…

PKM , , ,

Why PKM: Harold Jarche – making sense of the network era

April 28th, 2014

This video will give viewers a succinct explanation of why personal knowledge mastery is becoming a required skill in the post industrial, knowledge network world we now inhabit. I’m taking part in the current PK Mastery workshop series. It’s an in-depth, hands on program that is giving me a solid foundation for deepening my PKM skills. You can learn more about Harold Jarche’s PKM in 40 Days workshop series here.


Personal Knowledge Mastery Workshop – PKM in 40 Days

April 10th, 2014

As part of my participation in PKMastery in 40 Days work, I’m completing an exercise on creating a twitter community and narrating your work. Here is how Harold Jarche describes this area of PK Mastery.

Finding a Community on Twitter 

Communities are everywhere and there are many deep conversations and knowledge exchanges happening daily all over the world. So how can you find a community on a platform like Twitter? Twitter is different from Facebook and LinkedIn in that relationships are “asymmetrical” meaning that if I follow you, you do not have to follow me. This feature allows you to adjust the signal (good information) and noise (spam or information of less interest) ratio. If you find Twitter boring, it means you are following the wrong people. There are about 250 million active Twitter users, so you should be able to find someone who is interesting!

Narration of your Work

Narrating one’s work does not get knowledge transferred, but it provides a better medium to gain more understanding. Working out loud is a concept that is very easy to understand, but not quite so easy to do. Most people are too busy managing in their information age workplaces and have little spare time to try to learn how to work in the network age. The most important step in learning a new skill is the first one. This same step has to be repeated many times before it becomes a habit. I have learned that the first step of starting to work out loud, as part of personal knowledge management, has to be as simple as possible.

Twitter Community and Narration

I had two full meetings the day I chose to narrate my work. I figured there would not be a lot of diverse activities to write about but in my estimation, some very important things happened that leap frogged my understanding and practice.

I had a few hours before my meetings started so I decided to start my day by making sense out of my twitter account. I had created over a dozen lists at different points in my work and learning. Of course I had moved on with many of my work projects and thinking so those lists were now out of date and many of the contacts were no longer needed. I spent over an hour re-familiarizing myself with Twitter – I’m not a big user! What a job I have ahead of me.

I realized that in sorting out and re-establishing my Twitter account, I’m bringing into alignment the important projects I’m working on and being more clear with my purpose and goals for communicating via Twitter. As mentioned in an earlier PKMastery post, I’ve being woefully negligent by ignoring key people (known and unknown) who I could follow and learn from as well as share with. Now that I know more how to design my lists, find people I want to learn from and share with, I’m much more dedicated to using Twitter as a key part of my online network learning. I liked the Twitter tips from Joachim and a few others in our 40 Days Mastery group.

How to: Build a Community on Twitter – Mashable

The second part of the Twitter exercise was to find and develop my Twitter community. I decided to focus my twitter community search a projects I’m developing. The project is a school based mental health & student success initiative that would use a PKM framework in conjunction with a community based research mapping framework.

Students, in partnership with Child and Youth Workers (in school employees) would learn how to utilize PKM to guide research mapping (seek, sense, share) activities. By using their PKM framework, students would not only learn a process that will help them guide their work while on the pilot project, the PKM framework would be a process they can use in their ongoing student academic activities and continue on as they take on employment and careers.

The broad outcomes sought is a more inclusive, tolerant school community where there is less bullying, mental health stigmatizing and fewer students ending up in mental health crisis situations. So, to sum up, I’m scouring my contacts both online and off so I can connect with them via Twitter. What I do then, I’m not sure yet. At the least I will start tweeting about this pilot initiative and encourage more discussion. A large bureaucracy like the school system moves very slowly. I am taking on a systemic and complex problem and engaging youth in delivering the project. Using Twitter will let me stir the pot, hopefully without ruffling too many feathers.

My second big working and learning experience of the day was that in two conversations with strangers I took the opportunity to explain the pilot project initiative (described above) I was developing. I haven’t had many opportunities to explain the project to people outside my sector so this was a test (probe) for me. What pleased me was that I felt that I explained myself very clearly. People appeared to completely get what I was trying to do with this project. Just seeing that these people grasped the purpose of the initiative and how I planned to deliver the project gave me a lot of inspiration and confidence to keep plugging away.

These experiences made me realize that if ideas sit too long in one’s own head and if not tested out in conversations, good ideas can wither and die. Another take away from those two conversations was that I recognized that talking out loud is as important as working out loud. The final take away is that narrating your work can be a truly powerful and empowering experience. I’ve being writing blog posts for many years but I think getting into a habit of narrating your work on a regular basis will make me a better writer and blogger. It’s also amazing that inconsequential events, upon reflection can lead you to deeper insights about yourself and your work.

p.s. if any readers have suggestions or thoughts about my PKM and Research Mapping in schools initiative, please give me a shout.