Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Social BPM and Social Learning

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment
A number of companies, ranging from IBM to IbisSoft are working to integrate Business Process Modelling with Social Media. More specifically they are making their BPM tools collaborative, allowing multiple remote users to work on one model at the same time. Max Pucher wrote about these tools in his insightful blog post, Social BPM Methodology: The Triple Oxymoron. My post is a response to his expressed concern over the viability of social media in the context of formalized methodology.

Talking about social BPM is tough because shared meaning about such new topics has not settled yet. Social media, for instance, is still struggling to define itself. While many of us hope for something meaningful, others seem intent on subverting its value by whoring after large numbers of friends and followers at the expense of creating and capturing genuine value in real connections. Real value in social media comes from shared passion in facing a shared challenge.


Sparks from Hames and Wilber podcast

It has been a long while since I read or heard anything that really got me excited. But a three part chat between Ken Wilber and Richard Hames set off some mind sparks.

Wilber is the prolific author and guiding light behind Integral Theory – teaching that bridges religion and psychology and has much to say about systems thinking, ethics, personal development, business, education and so much more. The value of Integral is in its clear-headed, scientific and holistic approach to both personal and community growth.

Hames is the author of Five Literacies of Global Leadership. The disciplines are very much aligned with the Integral vision for holistic personal development:Five Literacies
  • Networked Intelligence (the ability to connect with others & express the complexity of the ecosystem)
  • Futuring (the ability to visualize & imagine future possibilities)
  • Strategic Navigation (the ability to learn to adapt as fast as change itself)
  • Deep Design (the ability to create wisdom through dialogue)
  • Brand Resonance (the ability to create attention that awakens your unique value in others)

I just ordered the book and only listened to the podcast once so I’m not going to try to expand on the content now. But the thing that set off sparks was the realization that my current labour of love is a perfect vehicle for the vision described by Hames and Wilber.Mobile Process Services as planned in great detail by Brian Keedwell includes most of the elements required for holistic business transformation as envisioned by Hames and Wilber (and others). It integrates continuous learning. It embraces complexity. It depends on networked intelligence and empowered team players to respond to change with extreme agility. It is holistic and exemplifies systems thinking. And it is so radically bold in its approach, it creates a natural affinity for everyone sick and tired of business as usual.

The three part podcast is available at Integral Life: (The first part is free but the rest requires subscription.)

Executive complacency blocks innovation

I heard it in two different conversations today and I’ve been thinking the same thing for awhile. In essence, the idea is expressed in a Tweet by Christian de Neef, ( ) a knowledge management consultant in Belgium: ”Innovation is an ongoing battle against apathy, complacency and laziness.”

It may not be totally the fault of those responsible for innovation. More often, I suspect, it is the fault of the money people – the senior executives, CEOs and board members who are too lazy to do the hard work of learning the details of innovations proposed by others. So they’re never pursued. As an advocate of education transformation, I am struck by the parallel between so-called “lazy” high school dropouts and complacent executives.

In my mind, the big issue with learning is motivation. Students are often de-motivated by under-funded and one-size-fits-all school systems and the prospect of limited opportunities, with or without a diploma, because the system is rigged and dehumanizing.

Executives are de-motivated because they’re complacent with their comfortable positions and remuneration. They’ve already got theirs so there’s no need to stretch their minds into new ways of thinking and working. It’s better to just play it safe, do what everyone else does and concentrate on what they know best. Unfortunately today, in most boardrooms that is financial management. Why bother innovating when we can ensure comfortable and even outrageous returns – for us – from mergers, acquisitions, political lobbying, and economic terrorism of our workers?

In fairness, if it can be called that, workers and politicians are too lazy to learn new ways of doing things as well. Things may be bad and getting worse, but for the moment 90% of people have got a job so they’re complacent. “Let’s leave innovation to the dreamers; all I want are my toys – my smart phones, my cars, my ….”

And executives hearing them say “Give the customers what they want because that’s the way to more wealth for us.” Round and round the circle goes. What little innovation that is funded is only marginal and incremental and in areas that don’t rock the boat. Disruptive operational innovation is admired when someone pulls it off but few try.

The tragedy is that there are so many dreamers – voices in the wilderness – with detailed proposals for systemic innovation that can deliver incredible value for vast numbers of people. But executives fail to understand because it takes real work to learn how to change the world. There are easier ways to get ahead. Drop outs are getting their message.

Sacred geometry of the Valentine heart

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment

For the sake of full disclosure, I am an atheist with an appreciation for the teachings and inspiration of religious traditions. Although this article talks about God, please remember that I use the term only because it’s easier than constantly saying “the awesomeness of nature or science.” I also use the word “God” as the traditional placeholder for that which is too sacred to be named.

My story is about the way wise people in the forgotten past may have tried to understand and represent the relationships between man, woman and God, their sacred source.1

Let’s start with the idea that the first people to believe in a single source of everything believed that God is infinite and perfect. God is the ONE. And let’s assume there were ancient mathematicians trying to understand the world using algebra and geometry. So, if they wanted to diagram the idea of God, they used the symbol “1”.


Of course, the earliest people didn’t start off thinking the symbol meant God. They just needed a quick symbol for counting things and there isn’t anything much simpler than a vertical dash. When the wise ones finally got around to thinking about the meaning of life and its source, they borrowed the symbol for one since it was ubiquitous and helpful, which is a kind of definition for God.

So, they had a simple, powerful symbol to express the idea of a single God or source. But how were they to represent man and woman? Well, if God is 1, then man and woman must be symbolized as something less than God. And they must be represented as almost the same but complementary to each other.

manThe wise ones trying to figure this out looked around at nature and at art and they noticed there was a kind of rule for creating beauty. It didn’t matter if the beauty was created by God or by humans. They saw this rule in the relative sizes of plant parts. DaVinci saw it in the proportions of the human body. Builders used it to create beautiful cathedrals. The rule is introduced to every beginning artist as the Golden Ratio or Phi.plant

Because this ratio seemed very mystical and powerful to the ancients, they decided it could be useful in representing a human when compared to God. Assuming those on earth are created in the image of God, the symbol for a human would be the same as for God but much smaller, as in the proportion of the Golden Ratio.

stemThe symbol for God, however, is vertical, as in the spirit reaching for heaven or flowers growing towards the sun . But the symbol for humans couldn’t be the same because the wise ones recognized that humans are not perfect like God. Not everyone is on the vertical path to heaven.

Plus women and men are, in fact, opposites in matters of regeneration.

So the wise ones came up with this: angled dashes to symbolize men and women using the angle halfway between the vertical and the horizontal. And they stuck those symbols on top of the God symbol. In accordance with the Golden Ratio, the human symbols are smaller than the God symbol The result is a mystical “Y”.Y

Wonderful! The wise ones had a new symbol to represent God’s relationship with man and woman. What next? Well, children of course.

Looking at nature again, the wise ones noticed that God is ruthlessly efficient. If some strategy for growing or reproducing life works, then that same successful formula is applied over and over again. Today we call this the science of algorithms but in those days it was simply called holy.


With this in mind, the wise ones took the algorithm they used to represent man and woman and the relationship with the Sacred One, and they repeated it to represent the next generation of man and woman as well. The same Golden Ratio of size and the same angle of divergence from the source. They repeated this formula again for the next generation. family1family2family3finalAnd again and again for each subsequent generation.

In nature and science, when the same formula or algorithm is applied to the results of the previous generation, we call it “recursion.” At least that’s the name we give it today. In the old days it was called sacred or magic because the results were so often amazingly beautiful – like a blessing from heaven. The symbols remain to this day and they’re still important to us even though we have forgotten where they came from.

heartIt’s rather sad that many of us feel so superior when looking at ancient or traditional beliefs. With our “modern” pride in science and technology, we dismiss as primitive superstition the connection that old traditions honor between learning and “spirit”.

But what have we got to show for it? A chaos of competing desires, a vulnerability to the greed of those fixated on short-term goals, information overload and a pervasive lack of meaning.

Don`t get me wrong and jump to the conclusion that I’m saying “everything old is good”. This is not a black and white issue of east versus west, modern versus ancient or religious versus atheist. The thinking and symbols that gave rise to the Valentine image were about “AND.” The mystical interpretation could be, “In order to find meaning in relationship, embrace both sides equally and consider the source and the product i.e. Man AND woman AND children AND God.

But symbols are just symbols – they have no meaning beyond what we give them. The angled dashes of man AND woman could represent east AND west, or modern AND ancient, or religious AND atheist. Regardless of the meaning we attach, though, it’s a geometry that’s helpful for thinking about relationships.

Integration Possible Barrier to Real-Time Enterprise

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment
clipped from
Posted by Loraine Lawson Jan 15, 2010 10:51:04 AM

Is now the time for real time? GigaOm analyst Sameer Patel thinks social networking and customer demand for real-time interaction will cause real time to be a priority for enterprises over the next two years.But the systems running the enterprise are far from ready for real time, and can you guess what one of the major stumbling blocks will be? Anybody?

That’s right: Integration!

blog it

Social media is changing everything and the question becomes “How will business adapt?” This post and the report that inspired it suggest that most companies will struggle because their business models need to be overhauled.

Big vendors like Microsoft, IBM et al are moving fast to provide tools to facilitate the changes their customers need to make.

My question is “Will customers get locked into a proprietary communication system that prevents them from sharing information with business colleagues on competing systems?”

Momentum is building for development of standards that will support communication and sharing between companies on different content management systems. You can follow stories of that development at

Web ghettos

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

I was born and raised in a small town. Most of the time, I was anxious to get away from that small town with its small town ideas, small town attitudes and small town culture. So, when I was finally able to make the break to university, I was gone like a shot. Ever since, I’ve lived in large cosmopolitan cities that have offered myriad opportunities to experience and enjoy many ideas, attitudes and cultures.

I’ve come to realize since, however, that with something gained, something has been lost. While I no longer have to endure small town people, they no longer have to endure me either. And isn’t that the conundrum of antipathy? With the mobility offered by wealth and the car, we have created self-imposed cultural ghettos for ourselves. And, in the process, we have created “anonymous others” that we can disdain as either effete city-slickers or ignorant hillbillies. If we shared the intimacies of our daily lives with each other, as happens in a small community, there would be more opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas and attitudes. Or at least more effort to come to terms with those we bump into every day.

The same thinking is at the core of much city planning today thanks to Jane Jacobs. She advocated building communities of mixed incomes and races within cities. Such engineered community diversity has virtually eliminated the ghettos that perpetuated negative attitudes within and without.

That is a formidable success in the realm of civic geography but I`m seeing a new kind of self-imposed ghetto beginning to appear. This time, though, it`s virtual. It`s on the web in Facebook groups, in Twitter lists and in many other kinds of virtual tribes. Take a look, for example, at your Twitter friends.

  • Are you following anyone with opinions you don’t share – other religions, other politics?
  • Are you following only topics important to you and ignoring topics important to your neighbors, parents or children?
  • Do you shy away from people younger or older than you?

Of course it`s helpful to engage with like-minded people for sharing and support but, as with biodiversity in nature, we need cultural diversity in our communication. Sometimes, we need to engage with others not like us – we need to argue so they can learn from us and us from them. Roger Walsh, in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, put it this way.

Elective Segregation: Failure to Engage the Mainstream. One of the gifts of our mobile technological culture is the ability to be and communicate with like-minded people. It is also one of the contemporary cultural traps. The danger is that in being able to find like-minded people, we can fall into a kind of elective segregation, in which we communicate almost exclusively with those who share our views. What sociologists find is that this selective communication tends to reinforce people’s more extreme viewpoints, whereas mixing and communicating with more diverse populations tends to moderate extreme views.

In fact, I would say the need to engage with those not like us is modeled by the most successful biological breakthrough in nature: sex. Organisms that learn (genetically) from others are much more robust that those that reproduce asexually. Perhaps it`s time to take a hint and start building web applications and communities that bring opposites together instead of the same old same. We can only learn so much from people just like us; we also need to find the courage to mix it up.

A quotation came to mind. It seems very appropriate at the moment since we’re also struggling with the issue of Net Neutrality.  John Milton delivered this 400 years ago in a speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the parliament of England.

I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.

Glazed eyes

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

For the last few months I have been working on a startup project that could create some exciting fireworks in the telecom industry, enterprise mobility in particular. When we first met, Brian Keedwell, the inventor of Mobile Process Services, told me he expected to create a new market that would generate $5 billion in five years. Yeah, yeah, I know … that was my initial reaction too. But there were a couple of elements in his plan that grabbed my attention and my imagination – integrated education and smart business networks.

Keedwell, who has helmed some very significant companies, made a name for himself engineering marketing process systems – million dollar plus jobs for companies like Pharmacia, Detroit Edison, SAS, Sandvik and DeLaval. Now he wants to take the business to a new level by delivering such systems as services.

His elaborate and very detailed plan revolves around smart business networks – agile collaborations of vendors, R&D educators and customers – that will build each project. Basically the idea is that if you can motivate a group of tech vendors with the promise of capturing and dominating a niche market, add to that an integrated team of grad students keen to apply cutting edge ideas, and anchor the team with customer participation, then you will be able to create an over-achieving service that will delight everyone.

Well, I have a background in IT and telecom marketing but a lot of this stuff just made my head spin. So most of my time lately has been spent learning business process modelling, smart business networks, agility, and some very subtle stuff related to the nature of quality and productivity. My intention, once I mastered the knowledge, was to write and produce the marketing collateral needed to promote the plan.

Hah! The ideas are so complex and so unfamiliar to industry people that, faced with learning esoteric ideas from alien disciplines, the most common reaction is glazed eyes. Most of our sustained support is from academics, the only ones motivated to attempt the steep learning curve. Everyone else seems to find it really hard to do the homework that’s demanded by disruptive and systemic innovation of production processes.

Finally, after coming to terms with the realization that traditional marketing was not enough, I turned back to a subject that has long fascinated me – education transformation. Recently, I have been following the evolution of corporate learning, which is focusing more and more today on social and collaborative learning. This seems to me a perfect solution for the kind of agile networks that we`re working to create. So why not start using it now to promote the project itself?

So I called Keedwell and told him about these cutting edge ideas for business education. You know, you can actually hear eyes glazing over on the telephone.