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Fortnightly Links No.41

Soft Skills • Cross-pollination • Learning and Design • PKM • Meaning

There are some people I tend to come back to regularly and this issue is a perfect storm of those reliable sources of knowledge and meaning with Godin, Parrish, Hagel, Kilpi and Popova.

Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills’

It’s Your Turn • 7 min read

Seth Godin on how we should stop talking about soft skills and start calling them real skills, because “they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to do today.”

Along the way, we’ve confirmed that vocational skills can be taught, while we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to decision making, eager participation, dancing with fear, speaking with authority, working in teams, seeing the truth, speaking the truth, inspiring others, doing more than we’re asked, caring and being willing to change things.

Why Cross-Pollinating Your Work, Works

Farnam Street Blog • 6 min read

Some great examples of cross-pollination, how 3M rotates engineers and allows for “flexible attention,” working on multiple projects, “crop rotation” (I love that metaphor), context change and more.

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called this “crop rotation.” One cannot use the same field to grow the same crop indefinitely; eventually the soil must be refreshed, by planting something new, or simply taking a break.

Learning is the central theme in service design and design thinking

Service Design Notebook • 4 in read

You might win at buzzword bingo from all the terms the author mixes in; Agile, Lean, User Centered Design, UX Design, Service Design and Design Thinking. BUT tying all this together through learning makes a lot of sense and is worth a read. He also wrote a follow up where he’s mapping Peter Senge’s art and practice of the learning organization onto service design.

In order to solve problems and innovate you need to learn. In complex projects with shifting requirements and goals you cannot define everything at the start, you have to learn while doing.

Collect & Connect

E-180 Mag • 9 min read

Some details, tips and tools on my “Personal Knowledge Management” system, followed by how we spread ideas through E-180 and how those ideas can inform our decisions and directions.

Each share acts as a prompt and reminder to everyone else that the space exists, that using it is encouraged and that spending time reading, thinking and discussing is part of the work.

We are trained to become machines

Euractiv • 4 min read

In this interview, Deloitte’s John Hagel argues that the problem with automation (“machines”) is not that they will take our jobs but that we are currently trained to be machines ourselves. When we focus on what makes us human, our imagination, creativity and audacity, we will actually be freed by machines to do more interesting work. (The transition though…)

We could really tap into what is uniquely human. Things like curiosity, creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence, social intelligence. Things that make us humans. We could redefine our work to emphasize those characteristics, those attitudes, and use the machines to help augment our capabilities, and increase value through creativity.

Interactive Competence

Esko Kilpi • 3 min read

Kilpi with a short piece where he’s hitting on a lot of important ideas and concepts for today’s collaborative work environment and the vital agility and learning skills we need.

The new competitive edge comes from interactive capacity: the ability to connect with information and people, as and when needed. Knowing depends on how you are present and how you communicate.
… When information is transparent to everybody, people can organize effectively around changes and differences, around customer contexts and innovative experiments.

Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age

On Being • 32 min read

A great “re-podcasted” 2015 interview of Maria Popova by Christa Tippet (audio and full transcript). Lots of good parts on learning, marginalia, curation, knowledge, attention and culture. Also, Krista Tippett: On Generous Listening and Asking Better Questions.

And I remember, there’s a really beautiful commencement address that Adrienne Rich gave in 1977 in which she said that an education is not something that you get but something that you claim. And I think that’s very much true of knowledge itself. The reason we’re so increasingly intolerant of long articles and why we skim them, why we skip forward even in a short video that reduces a 300-page book into a three-minute animation — even in that we skip forward — is that we’ve been infected with this kind of pathological impatience that makes us want to have the knowledge but not do the work of claiming it. I mean, the true material of knowledge is meaning. And the meaningful is the opposite of the trivial. And the only thing that we should have gleaned by skimming and skipping forward is really trivia. And the only way to glean knowledge is contemplation. And the road to that is time. There’s nothing else. It’s just time.

Further Reading


Illustration from the HBR reading article.

Patrick Tanguay

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