Modern Workplace Learning – Workshops for Non-Profits

December 8th, 2015


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.


PKM, Workplace-Network Learning

Canadian Youth Unemployment Crisis – a generating solutions project

November 2nd, 2015


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

Harold Jarche’s post The Future is Jobless describes the shift to a post job economy.

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


An Age of Experimentation – Harold Jarche 2015 – 05 – 05

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.

Enterprise Knowledge Sharing Requires Trusted Relationships – Harold Jarche, Posted ; filed under Work.

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?




PKM, Workplace-Network Learning ,

Workshop Development

September 23rd, 2015

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.

Workshop Title

Becoming a 21st Century Network Learning Worker/Organization

Workshop Goals:

This workshop presents a framework for you and or your organization to construct a set of lifelong network learning skills such as:

  1. Discovering a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your work.
  2. Taking greater control and ownership of your professional and career development skills.
  3. 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.

PKM, Workplace-Network Learning

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 , , ,

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

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