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Learn Constantly. Become Future-Proof.

Fortnightly Links no.21

We believe that to always keep learning is the best strategy a person, group or organization can adopt and live to remain effective, active, relevant and, well, happy. Every two weeks we send the most relevant articles in becoming better learners. We look at how people learn from and with each other.

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A warm welcome to all our new readers and thanks to Warren Ellis for pointing you this way. A quick reminder of our editorial direction:

We believe that to always keep learning is the best strategy a person, group or organization can adopt (and live) to remain effective, active, relevant and, well, happy.

We don’t focus on a specific set of tools and practices for learning. Instead, we look, think about, and share how people learn today. While keeping alive and present our love for how people learn together.

Where “we” is the Research & Learning team at E-180 (we also produce an online magazine), which I lead. We’d love to read any and all comments, feedback and even quick intros to who you are, if you feel like it. Just hit reply and give us your impressions. And of course feel free to share our little newsletter with others if you think they’ll enjoy it.

In this issue; collaborative overload, an innovative internal event format at Slack, communities vs networks, curiosity and reading with intent.

Thanks for joining us!

Launching Mission Control Day (part 1) (5 min read)

A half day event at Slack with the purpose of “imagining how work could be done more efficiently, especially as we grow as a company.” Looks like a stimulating event format for a learning organization, collaboration and sharing.

The details were straightforward: Slack would set aside a half-day (10am-2pm) consisting of two 90-minute time slots with lunch in between. Two weeks before the big day, a discussion channel was opened, and employees invited to pitch session titles and descriptions. After a week, 26 pitches were scheduled into conference rooms with dedicated video feeds, so staff around the world could participate in real time.

Collaborative Overload (10 min read)

Leaning happens everywhere, all the time, including of course in work settings. This article is a good example of catching insights for knowledge practices in “off-topic” places. As the author analyses “collaborative overload,” he bumps into aspects of collaborative learning, knowledge sharing and mentorship. You’ll find many lessons useful in encouraging collaborative learning behaviours in the workplace.

[I]t’s important to distinguish among the three types of “collaborative resources” that individual employees invest in others to create value: informational, social, and personal. Informational resources are knowledge and skills—expertise that can be recorded and passed on. Social resources involve one’s awareness, access, and position in a network, which can be used to help colleagues better collaborate with one another. Personal resources include one’s own time and energy.

Work skills for the future: Curiosity (3 min read)

There’s a huge overlap between the words curiosity, creativity and learning. As Stowe Boyd puts it; “Curiosity can be repositioned as the desire to learn, to be open to the pursuit of digging into the unknown.”

I believe that the most creative people are insatiably curious. They ask endless questions, they experiment and note the results of their experiments, both subjectively and interpersonally. They keep notes of ideas, sketches, and quotes. They take pictures of objects that catch their eye. They correspond with other curious people, and exchange thoughts and arguments. They want to know what works and why.

What are we building: communities or networks? (6 min read)

Since communities and networks are not the same thing and don’t require the same kind of involvement to stay lively, perhaps we should regard communities of practice as networks instead, so that we can properly structure and address them, in the hopes of keeping them alive and useful.

While we strive to create space that embodies these factors, people that belong to ‘communities of practice’ likely get a sense of community that is more strongly connected to their geographic location or shared characteristics (i.e, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, etc.). Their willingness to share and develop expertise is more about strengthening those communities rather than participating and contributing to communities devoted to expertise exchange. It might be more appropriate to use the term ‘network of practice’ rather than ‘community of practice’.

The Very Strange World of ‘Adult’ Problem-Solving (3 min read)

I’m not a big fan of generational generalizations but regardless, there are still some interesting thoughts in this piece around deep collaboration and problem solving, how different view points should not be seen as conflicts but as opportunities to bring and idea further.

The biggest difference I see between what my students understand when working in groups and how adults often engage centers on what to do with tensions. For my students, tensions are interesting things to be leveraged. It’s what allows them to reach innovation. For many, tensions are things to avoid.  They are things talked about quietly between colleagues after everyone has left the room. And that is a shame. Because it’s by intentionally exploring tensions that innovations are found. My students who are adept in Integrative Thinking, Design Thinking and Knowledge Building know that. They also know that assumptions must be surfaced and examined and they are equipped with tools to do so.


Reading with intention can change your life (7 min read)

As you read, have a specific purpose in mind and stick to it. Don’t let your mind be the river that sweeps your thoughts away as you read. Be a ruthless notetaker. Your librarian might kill you for this, but using a technique such as marginalia (writing notes in the margin and marking up key patterns for follow ups), will make you a more active reader and help lock information in your memory.

Malcolm Gladwell got us wrong: Our research was key to the 10,000-hour rule, but here’s what got oversimplified (8 min read)

Gladwell did get one thing right, and it is worth repeating because it’s crucial: becoming accomplished in any field in which there is a well-established history of people working to become experts requires a tremendous amount of effort exerted over many years. It may not require exactly ten thousand hours, but it will take a lot.

“As the business of humanity becomes creating environments, learning and pattern recognition become the joyful means of responding to the environments, and these environments are responding to you more and more. The child of today, living in information environment, is engaged in continually processing data on a massive scale. He or she is engaged in a major form of work that is inseparable from growing up. Indeed growing up has become for young people today their main task in life. This royal task of total growth and development has become strangely the unmistakable role of everybody in the electronic age. Continuing education is now both the work and the privilege of all individuals.”
— Marshall McLuhan

Header image by Bethany Legg on Unsplash.

Patrick Tanguay

Editor-in-Chief for E-180 Publications. Obsessively curious transdisciplinary thinker and learner. I help connect people and ideas.