Monthly Archives: October 2010

More on GROU.PS

A few days ago, I posted on Disservice from GROU.PS, giving me a deadline for upgrading from plan ” .” Today this arrived in my mailbox:

“Time Is Running Out For XXII International Symposium on Morphological Sciences.” WTF?

A comment to my earlier post says,

They promised over and over and over that it would always be free and that we would have 10gb of space, etc. LOL, just look at their Ning migration page ( IT’S STILL PROMISING FREE!!!, 10gb, forum, domain masking, etc.

However, NONE of this is true! If you don’t pay you only get 1gb, NO domain masking, no forum, no moderation capabilities, no custom template, etc.

Bottom line, is a SCAM!!! I strongly suggest ditching them now before things get even worse. SUCKS!

What has been your experience? Is GROU.PS a scam?

Normally, I’d just swear under my breath, but in this case, I’ve pointed a few people to GROU.PS as an alternative to Ning, so I’d like to get to the bottom of this.

The line in their email to me about XXII International Symposium on Morphological Sciences shakes my confidence in GROU.PS’ technological prowess, no matter what their business ethics.

Genesis of the Working Smarter Poster

This morning Dave Gray asked me if I had a few minutes to talk on Skype about the Working Smarter poster I’d like to have as a companion to the Informal Learning poster Xplane and I created several years ago.

The Informal Learning Poster

Dave shared his screen as we talked. I rambled on about working smarter, and Dave sketched as we talked. Here’s the result.

The pic on Flickr

What should be added to this image? Do you buy what it says?

Join the Internet Time Alliance for a Day… in London

On Thursday 16th December the Internet Time Alliance is conducting a day-long retreat in London to help senior managers prepare for the opportunities and challenges they will face next year. 

Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Clark Quinn, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings

In this private session, we discuss our latest thinking on what’s important in:

  • social learning
  • enterprise learning governance
  • working smarter
  • the impact of mobile learning
  • taking advantage of personal knowledge environments
  • breakthroughs in brain science
  • revised views of motivation
  • growing awareness of emergence
  • the shift from push to pull models
  • rethinking the role of the LMS
  • breaking down barriers to change.

Ground rules

No competitors. If Fiat attends, Volkswagen can’t. Our choice.

Small group. This session will be intimate and participatory. No more than a dozen participants. Again, our choice.

No consultants. We’re the consultants. You’re the practitioners from corporations and government.

Big payback. Bring a problem (or problems) to solve; you’ll receive individualised advice from thought leaders and others in the room.

Everyone will share in the day’s activities, which will include:

An invigorating discussion, just the way to end the year on a high note.

Books such as The Working Smarter FieldbookEngaging Learning.

Fee for the day is £750. Two from a single organisation, £550 each.

Interested? Email Charles Jennings or Jane Hart

A day with Dave Snowden

Dave Snowden is a compelling storyteller, mad genius, and irascible Welshman who has pioneered the mash-up of complexity theory and management practice.

Dave led a day-long seminar on his version of complexity in San Francisco today. I’m still absorbing the implications. This is brilliant, important work.

Begin with Dave’s Cynefin framework.

Problems come in four domains: simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic. Each calls for a different approach. This is a sense making framework, not a categorization method. I tried to capture this in my notes, which appear below.

  • Simple. Hierarchy works in simple situations. In the complex system, you need to set the boundaries.
  • Ordered system. Constrains agents, reductionism and rules, determinism, observer independence. Bring in an expert or analyze situation. Sense, analyze, respond. Good practice.
  • Chaotic systems. Agents unconstrained and independent of one another, studied thru stats and probability. Act, sense, respond. Novel.
  • Complex adaptive systems . Lightly constrains agents. Agents modify system thru interaction with it. They co-evolve (making things irreversible). Inherently unpredictable. CAS is non-causal. Some things just are. Can only understand by interacting with it. Probe, sense, respond. Do NOT bring in experts: they are the most conservative people on earth. Bring in diverse experts, if any. Emergent practice.

For the real deal, visit the site of Dave’s company, Cognitive Edge.

This graphic captures what I found most exciting: three major realignments. I’ve been prattling on about the shift from the era of scientific management to the world of systems dynamics for several years. Dave clarified what comes next, something he calls the era of cognition and complexity.

Notes: After 9/11, the intelligence agencies were critiqued for failing to connect the dots. If there are only four dots, they can form 64 patterns. Twelve dots can form 4,700 quadrillion patterns. Connecting dots is a fool’s errand.

Discoveries are made by people who are alert to the possibility of error.

Aristotle: “Whereas young people become accomplished In geometry and mathematics, and wise within. These limits, prudent young people. Do not seem to be found. The reason is that prudence is concerned with particulars as well as universals, and particulars become known from experience, but a young person lacks experience, since lack of time is needed to produce.”

Recipe book versus being a chef. If you wanted to eat a meal, would you prefer it be prepared by a chef or a recipe-book reader?

Target Hoppers, the managers at IBM who chase after one goal come hell or high water, and then hop to the next target. I mentioned my peeve that business people inevitably take short-term gain over long-term benefit. Dave says that managing in the US and UK since the 80s has been dominated by the asymptote: optimizing one thing. Tunnel vision.

Unintended consequences. James Herriott’s All Creatures approach was individualized. UK reporting system led to farmers not reporting symptoms at all.

Power Laws. In lieu of bell curve. Changes management practice to resilience in the face of inevitable error. Early warning systems instead of plans. Rapid adaptation. Dave’s book will probably be named The Resilient Organization.

Yesterday Dave was at Boeing for the day. They have calcified to the point that they could not create the 747 again.

Today you develop a software app by first establishing the architecture and then allowing the app to grow within it.

Resilience is hot. “Are they using your language?”

Complexity theory. Risk of confusion with chaos.

A system is any network that has coherence. It may be fuzzy or without purpose. Coherence means that it hangs together. Ideas > people

An agent is anything which acts within the system.

Managing the ecology, the conditions…

Phase shift between one system and another. Ordered, complex, chaos: no blending.

We have to be able to describe the present situation more than try to describe the future.

Traffic control. Roundabouts. “the magic roundabout” CAS with distributed cognition. No gridlock. Computers cannot cognate.

Ontology, epistemology, phenomenology. Knowledge and perception not aligned. Try to have perpetual re-setting. Ont = nature of things. Epis = how we know hinges. Phenom = what we see.

Ontology precedes epistemology. Contradictory methods… What’s right within boundaries. Models for managers all come from manufacturing. Sick stigma. Industrial best practices = total disaster now being sold to government the ultimate dead end.

They love the concept of order. Children’s party. Project party. Motivational video. After action review. CAS view try it; probe and respond. You manage what can be managed; you don’t try to manage what cannot be managed. Manage boundary conditions. Works for Singapore.

Magnets. Magnet are modulators. Dark matter – we cannot see it but we know it’s real.

Cynefin framework. Welsh term, opposed to 2 x 2 model. Baaa. Place. HBR wanted to hang cynefin on BCG matrix. Model emerges from the framework.

Disorder is state of not knowing what domain you are in. Need to minimize confusion. Figure out where you are; then select what to do.

Do it over and over, maybe every six months. Manage for serendipity. The more perceptions, the better. Safe-fail, not fail-safe. Probe – low impact.

Soccer is a game for thugs played by gentlemen. Rugby is a game for gentlemen played by thugs.

John Cleese on difference between US and England. When you meet our head of state, you only need to go down on one knee. We speak English. When we have a global competition, we invite other countries to attend.

Move into action

Mix problems and solutions.

Eliminate the simple stuff.

Fill out form for complicated.

Different form(s) for complex.

Ritualized dissent. Turn back and they tear it to shreds.

Dave dislikes Open Space because the law of two feet ostracizes dissenters.

In Australia, go to Broken Hill. Bush country diet reverses type II diabetes. Came up with 13 experiments, such things as bussing people to collective eating spots, teaching hunters how to deal with other tribes’ animals etc.parallels for corporations. In practice, have 100s participate.

Aspects of complexity

Highly sensitive to small changes. Detection of weak signals is key.

Proximity and connectivity of agents has high impact. (tell the story backwards to elicit the truth; the human brain cannot lie backwards)

Meaning emerges thru interaction (peers)

Hindsight does not lead to foresight

Work with finely granulated objects. Tweets and blogs. Iraq ysystem linking history with current situation.

5 is items in memory
15 is the number of trust, the size of the traditional family
150 Dunbar number

Smaller units make for more alternatives, fast mix and match.

Disintermediation. Put decision-makers in direct contact with data.

Distributed cognition. Wisdom, not foolishness, of crowds.

Human beings were made to satisfy, not optimize. Hunters on the savannah making rapid decisions with incomplete information.

Homo narrens instead of homo sapiens.

Dave has set up system where shoppers in 250 stores try the product and tell their stories. Output is a real time semantic picture of the brand!

Moving to the next paradigm

Crews. New organizational forms. People aboard ship are trained in roles. When you are on watch, you are in charge. No one with more than to roles.

Collective identity structure replacing individualism.

Ritualized roles.

Social network stimulation

If you can get everyone in an organization within three degrees of separation, you no longer need the system. Establishes trust. KM would not be necessary.

Take an intractable problem. Need to have possibility of unquestioned solution. $20 million organ benefit for example.

Rules to prevent people colluding/force diversity. Asymmetry of membership. Promote mavericks as free radicals.

Rewards. Three month sabbatical. Maximum team = 7. Do it on their own time.

Change the environment, not the people.

Self-form the team. More productive that way.

Run one or two months. Cannot be on same team. Two years, everyone knows one another within three degrees.

End up with agile framework.

Anthropology-simulation. They fail three times. A character named god can come in with a miracle. Human-controlled game can be richer than a computer game. Variation: can use fictional situations.

Science fiction conferences attract dynamite scientists. Attend one. Dave got execs to visit a sim of their own company.

Cynefin construction. 500-600 bits on hex Post-Its. (Hex trumps square. Patterns emerge.)

What remains split into cynefin model.

Creating the framework. Tables of four. Childrens party story. Find real problems by domain. Cut paper into four. Regroup. Not as good as the first method because people see the model first.

Landscape of management

Others oversimplify

Others confuse

Correlation vs causation

Sensemaker software is open source – different meaning of complexity

Complex: probes, boundaries. Do not mess with things you cannot change and monitor impact. Facilitate the unknowable journey.

Unknown known model. Note HBR article reference.

As if by magic, today’s cartoon:

It is how we evolved, so… It is how things will be.

Disservice from

I just received three emails from, one for each of the community sites I migrated to from Ning.

7 Days Left to Select a Plan

Time Is Running Out For Internet Time Community

We are contacting you regarding to your monthly payment for your group. You are currently using the . Unless you wish to continue this plan, in 7 days, your Internet Time Community group will be downgraded to Entry Level. We hope that you are taking advantage of our services and will stick with your current plan.

Interesting customer service approach, eh? The first thing I hear from is that I’m going to be downgraded unless I re-up for ” .”

This does not inspire confidence.

Dave Snowden is in San Francisco to lead a seminar tomorrow on A new simplicity.

This seminar will provide a basic introduction to complexity theory in human systems and introduce participants to some core methods and approaches. It is based on the award winning work of Dave Snowden and is relevant for executives in the public and private sectors who need to understand the theory and application of new complexity-based approaches to strategy.

The challenge of doing more with less is ever present in both the public and private sectors. In the 1980s the big idea was process management and re-engineering, replacing the functionally orientated structures of the preceding decades. Over the years those ideas have achieved significant results, but they no longer offer the opportunity for radical and progressive change and are in danger of becoming over extended and over complicated.

Complexity theory, dealing with systems that are inherently uncertain and unpredictable, is emerging as a radical new way to:

  • focus on sustainability, using the natural capabilities of customers, citizens and staff;
  • shift from fail-safe design to a more flexible and adaptive process of safe-fail experiments leading to more resilient outcomes;
  • use the distributed intelligence of workforces and markets to transform decision making and achieve long term effectiveness.
  • see strategy as a constantly evolving articulation of emergent possibilities, shorting decision cycles, increasing robustness;
  • understand the new simplicity inherent in an ecological approach to management.

I am really looking forward to this. Join me.

Price cut on Working Smarter Fieldbook

Twenty minutes ago, we cut the price of the Working Smarter Fieldbook from $24 to $20.

In a little over a week, several thousand people will begin arriving in San Francisco to attend DevLearn. Many of them will buy the new edition of the Working Smarter Fieldbook. I don’t feel like becoming a cashier. Give us a twenty; take your book. The price will go up after the event.

More about the contents and purpose of the book.

We designed this book to set your hair on fire.

    ISBN 978-0-557-68978-1
    Edition September 2010
    Publisher Internet Time Press
    Published October 24, 2010
    Language English
    Pages 378Binding Perfect-bound Paperback
    Interior Ink Black & white
    Dimensions (inches) 6.0 wide × 9.0 tall

Don’t be a wimp. Buy it

We’re going to be at DevLearn. Bring your copy and collect the signatures of all five authors!

By the way, if you’re coming to DevLearn, be aware that there’s a cool exhibition of the art at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, which is right out the back door of the Marriott. A woman is hand-lettering a Torah, all 3+ million characters and don’t you make a mistake. A block away, the magnificent SF Museum of Modern Art, is opening a show on Henri Cartier-Bresson. The museum’s 75th anniversary show will still be running in full force.

Manage radically and get freebies, too

Steve Denning asks:

• Have you ever wondered why the workplace often feels like you’re living in a Dilbert cartoon?
• Have you ever wondered why only one in five workers is fully engaged in their work?
• Have you ever wondered why individual management fixes don’t stick? They seem to work for a period, but they don’t take hold? And the organization slides back into the old way of doing things, as by the force of gravity?
• Have you ever wondered what it would take to move your organization to a new level of productivity and innovation, not just as a short-term initiative, but on a permanent basis?

Get his thoughts on these questions and pick up a gift in the bargain. Check out the free gifts Steve is offering in conjunction with the launch of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management. You can get book chapters and advice from the likes of Tom Davenport, Warren Bennis, Jim Kouzes, Seth Kahan, Rob Cross, and the Interent Time Alliance.