Category Archives: Blatant self promo

Some Life Management Skills, Anyone?

Life design is an “in vogue” topic now – in part thanks to

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Flow
  • Sir Kenneth Robinson and his books on finding and using your natural gives
  • Burnett and Evans – Designing Your Life (based on their Stanford Course)

There are other resources, but the above three are huge for me. I have been thinking about what they offer for some time now, and condensed some of the key ideas into a one day “primer” or “adventure”.  The goal of the quickie course is to offer an “an off the shelf”! tool that you can apply to daily activities and decisions to step by step upgrade how you think about and how you live your life.

Note – I do not tell you how to live your life. That is totally up to you. I assume that you have some idea of what you want in life, and help you realize it over time.

We just did our one day course here in Tartu yesterday, and I was very pleased.  The energy in the classroom at the end of the day was very high, and everyone was chomping at the bit to get out there and go for it!

What a great day!


The Five Levels of Performance

I have seen lots of discussion about how the 21st century will change our notions of work. Standard career paths will be out the window! AI will take jobs! Technology will rule all! And on and on.

The more simple truth is that the 21st century work environment will be in many ways easier than anything humans have experienced before. Technology will make work easier. As it does so, we will be freed up to use our intellectual resources more creatively, both individually and in groups. Those who are able to use it will thrive.

There is a catch. To do that well, we will need some new skills. Skills that are not taught in schools – at least not yet. What are they? They fall into 5 categories.

  • Strategic thinking
  • Effective communication
  • Building creative capacity in organizational structures
  • Getting more value added out of networked ecologies
  • scaling new ideas

The path is from individual competence to group competence to organizational competence to community competence to innovation competence.

People who master all of the above skill sets will thrive. Others who master only some will be ok. But those who take no notice will be in trouble. They will have a hard time coping.

Interested? Let me know.

Are You a Blocker or Interleaver?

Most of us are blockers. That is, we learn by blocking out one thing to learn at a time, and then when it is mastered, we move on. This is how we learn at  school.

The surprising thing is that this is not the most effective way to learn. That is not my personal view, but the view developed from research over a period of years. Interleaving — when done correctly — is far more effective than blocking.

How does interleaving work? This Scientific American article gives a peek. It is a fun read over coffee.


BTW, as a teacher, I will be incorporating this idea into my curriculum. More on that as I go forward!

And if you want more about teaching and learning, this Guardian article is for you!

Choosing Your thought Battles

Our brains are “single thread processors”. And those threads may or may not be based on reality.  In fact, much of the time, those threads start from ideas that have little to do with reality. We generate those ideas for reasons based on our own psychology.  The more generalized they are, the more likely they are synthetic and unhelpfu. Like “I will never be able to do X”.

That simple idea has tremendous significance. It suggests that we could be happier if we focus on generating threads that please us rather than those that give us pain.

So, for exmap.le, you might ask yourself to be on the lookout for something beautiful while on the way to work to photograph. Or you might reflect on something that happened that you are grateful for. Making that choice creates a thread that impacts our neural patterns. It frees the mind from self-destructive pattners.

And it is easy to do. Go for it!

How Many Weak Ties Can You Tolerate?

Another thought from Six Degrees

It was a bit of a surprise to me to learn that we knew back in 1973 that “weak ties” in networks play a “strong role” in determining outcomes. Weak ties — as opposed to strong ties — open the door to diversity and coaltion building, which are critical in making networks more potent.

That raised a question for me. What institutions encourage more weak ties? Put another way, how many different ways are there at our disposal to develop weak ties?  The more the better, right?

And it occurred to me that perhaps the best type of weak ties are those that delight. Shared delight can be ephemeral, but it does bind in apoistive way. And as Steve Johnson wrote in “Wonderland”, innovation starts with trying to satisfy our endless human need for delight in creativity.

So which institutions will delight us as we go forward? Hmmm … I have to put on my thinking cap.

Networks that Build Momentum

One of my current obsessions is how to design and use networks that accelerate learning within a group. To be more precise, not just to share ideas between really, really smart people, but to help people level up by joining and participating in a group.

Think about this for a second. Ask yourself, why are some localities locked in poverty? Sometimes it is because they are physically isolated from markets that could bring them prosperity. But that does not explain urban poverty. In that setting, physical barriers may play a role in isolating people, but they are not the only barrier. Even if the poor can mix in with their more well to do neighbors, they do not share the same learning curves.  They are locked out for other reasons. Something else has to happen in order for them to catch up.

That is an extreme example of a problem that may be  widespread. We are getting used to the idea that certain localities are evolving into “innovation hubs”. These places draw in creative people and eccelerate the rate of innovation that occcurs there. So what happens to localities that are not innovation hubs? They do not participate in the networks that create the most value added. They will not share the same level of prosperity.  They may stagnate or worse.

So how do learning networks work? The first step is to get a handle on basic network concepts themselves. From that you can start understanding what affects what I call “network momentum”. I will be posting on network momentum as I get deeper into this theme.

Stay tuned!

AI will Stay Stupid Before it Gets Smart

When Google first put out its search engine, I initially thought that I had found nirvana. I could now connect with anyone, anywhere, and find out just about anything. We now know that while search is useful, it is far from perfect. And there are inherent limitations to search that are not easily overcome.  We are thinking about life beyond search.

The same is true for AI. While AI promoters are evangelizing how AI will enable us to do much, much more, current realities are that deep neural networks cannot perform on an error free basis. And my best guess is that this will remain true for the foreseeable future.  Siri will get marginally smarter, but will not become Einstein overnight. BTW, Einstein was not perfect either.

That means considerable value added can be gained by designing business models that  take advantage of AI, but that are not prisoners of AI. In other words, business modesl that reward learning itself and sharing that learning to network partcipants. What to call this? Learning networks? Something like that. But the odd thing is that we still don’t do this very well. We are still wedded to ecologies that exploit curren tlearning rtaher than develop future learning.

That should change.