Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3 reasons you need to know why Yale delayed Google Apps

Did you know that Yale delayed moving its email services to Google Apps?

Accordingly to Yale Daily News the move was delayed because it didn't follow a in-depth analysis of the advantages and disadvantages. To the question "what happens once we move our email to google", the Yale crowd raised concerns in 3 fundamental areas:
  • Operations - what happens to my data?
  • Technology - is my data safe?
  • Ideology - do I agree with Google's corporate policies?
In my previous post, I spoke about knowledge as the next global currency.  With that post in mind, I would like to rephrase the questions above - "After you make a deposit in your bank, do you:
  • ask yourself what happens to your money?
  • worry if your money is safe?
  • know what are your bank's corporate policies?
If you are like me, you probably answered no to all.  We worry... but there's little we can do about it.

As our data becomes more valuable, and more abundant, we need a safe place to store it.  Our backups, simply don't cut anymore, and losing data is becoming too expensive to bare. We need something new. The cloud is for now a good place to hold it.

Is the cloud the PERFECT placeholder for your data? No.  But if you think about the 2008 financial meltdown, neither are banks. The idea is to continue to ask questions... just like Yale. Together we will have to continue to perfect the system.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do you know which currency will dominate the future?

Which currency do you think will dominate the future?
  • Dollar
  • Yuan
  • Other
If you didn't pick "other" then this blog is especially important for you. I will answer this question at the end.

First things first

As you know, strategic consultants are to the economy, what astronomers are to Earth bound asteroids. The difference is that, while astronomers use a sophisticated network of listening devices, strategic consultants use their networks of Fortune 1000 CEOs and MBA professors.

Towards the end of 1980s, strategic consulting companies picked up on a new "signal" with the potential to bring significant change to their customers - learning.

Learning in the Industrial Age (1850-1975)

During the industrial age, organizations' success depended on their ability to mass produce and leverage economies of scale. General Motors, the high priest of industrial organizations, ruled unchallenged. Even though technology mattered, it took second stage to the ability to mass-produce.  Repetition was valued over innovation.  A high school diploma was enough to live comfortably. There was really no clear incentive for continuous learning.

Learning in the Information Age

In 1975 the first minicomputer kit reached the market.  Two years after Apple started the personal computer revolution withe Apple II. As the  personal computer  developed, and prices dropped, the PC became to learning what the bicycle had been to individual transportation. With the PC people were able to learn more and more efficiently. They could store huge amounts of information (otherwise forgotten), and practice through simulation

PC reaches the organization

With the explosion of productivity software, the PC found its way into the organization. The tremendous gains in productivity allowed workers to do more of what human are great at - having ideas.  As this trend intensified, companies start relying on their employees to develop more and better ideas. The office cube was born so people could "think better". Innovation, not repetition had taken center stage. College degrees and continuous learning became common.

The value of knowledge

As organizations increased their dependency on their workers to have great ideas, so did their dependency on being able to innovate and learn. The organization was no longer a sum of its physical and financial assets.  Learning and innovation need to also be considered when determining the competitiveness of an organization. This  concept is behind Balanced scorecard, the first management performance indicator to focus on learning.

Learning goes global

Twenty years have passed since the release of Balanced scorecard. During this time, the way people learn, both in an out of the organization, has changed dramatically. If the PC was to learning the equivalent of a bicycle, the innovation of the past twenty years, can only be compared to Star Trek's tele-transporting. Social networks, GPS based cell phones, googols (10 to the 100th) of high quality information are now available to anyone. Society has entered a period of accelerated development, fueled by mass-learning. Value is all about ideas. Degrees are good but they returns are short lived given the high pace of change.

Are you listening to the new signals?

I'm sure you noticed the change. Learning is now part of our day life.  To live in the perpetual state of change, society has engaged in the perpetual state of learning. While in the 90s I was still in college, and missed the previous revolution, these time around, I'm right on the middle of everything. Since 2006 I have been tuning into some amazing "signals". Faint as they might be for now, their volume will soon be heard by all. These new signals lead to a new society, more balanced, more educated.  A society that uses evidence to make decisions, whether they impact the few or the many - a true Meritocracy.

The answer to the question

The future global currency is... knowledge.

Ask yourself.

If in the future, companies will be idea factories then, shouldn't their value depend uniquely on what they know, their learning plans, and how they learn?

For the longest of time, the value of the currency was indexed to gold.  Right? The country with most gold, was the richer? Well... in the future economy, gold will mean a lot less (nanotech will be able to create it).  What is essential is how fast people can learn.

P.S - Just in case... an important point

Knowledge, not humans, will be commoditized.  These new revolution continues the trend of empowering the individual, who know needs to have a sense of the whole. If today only few of us do what they are passionate about (you lucky you!!) , in the future that will be mandatory.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learning Portfolio should to be your #1 reengineering tool

A learning portfolio is a multi-format activity-monitoring tool that documents in realtime, individual or group, learning progress with the purpose of document process achievements and process re-engineering.

A learning portfolio tracks an individual instance of a learning process, responsible to achieve a specific goal. Each process instance was created with initial variables, making each instance different.Learning process are executed by a unique process engine - the brain.

In the knowledge economy, you will be doing two things: learning and sleeping. The better your learn, the better your chances to thrive. A learning portfolio gives you a way for you to improve the way you learn based on evidence.

Imagine the money you will save on those self-learning books, which are ideas coming from others, and do not adapt to the way you think!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

From a knowledge quantum to a knowledge field

How do you learn?

Do you like to highlight the books you read?

Do you like to write your own notes on books?

Does that make you learn faster?

I don't know about you... but I learn a lot faster when I write all over my books.  So much so that I developed a set of symbols to better, interpret my notes long after I created them.  I have notes that indicate further research, notes that indicate a bridge to other books, etc, etc.

What I know results from my mental notes, from the books I read and from everything I saw, I listen, I felt, I tasted, and I smelled.  My knowledge is a "soup" of all my sensory experiences, processed and stored in my brain, by a constantly evolving process; the epistemic process.

Even though my knowledge results from the accumulation over time of all these experiences, knowledge itself is a lot more than the sum of the parts.  The reason is simple.  These experiences are stored in special containers (neurons) that can communicate among themselves, resulting on something very different from a file archive.

In fact, the better way to picture what happens inside the brain is by imagining a huge aquarium able to host any species of fish.  The most successful species are those able to form schools, because moving together (swarming) ensures a much better protect against predators (in this case forgetfulness).  The fastest each fish reacts to the movement of its neighbors, the stronger the school.  Human knowledge works the same way.  The closer knowledge quantum is, and the fast it can be update, the stronger knowledge is.

Since the beginning of learning that, we have been using exams to determine what we know.  However, grades focus on just one species at a time (and not that well), taking the part for the whole.  Assessing knowledge needs to evolve towards a more holistic perspective.  It needs to account for all knowledge quanta and equally important, how they interact.  A more accurate way to do it is introducing the concept of a field; the knowledge field.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From the Industrial Age to the Information Age.

The Economist just release a very interesting article about how organizations maybe missing on key opportunities by not being able to assess completely the value of their information - "Data Deluge.” After reading it I think that some would be lead to think that society will drown in the humongous volume of the information we generate. Do you agree with this vision?

I don't. This is why.

I believe that most people are experiencing the information age, with industrial age paradigms. Because of this, things just don't add up for them, and they end up with the impression that we will miss important events because we are unable to process this much information.

I can't but compare this situation, with what happened at the beginning of 20th century, when physicists were trying to explain experiments results based on the Newtonian deterministic models. Things just didn't add up for them either. Eventually, a new school of thought emerged, making it possible for them to explain their results. This new school was coined quantum mechanics.

About 100 years later, I believe that society as a whole is reaching a similar threshold. We need new metaphors to live in a world of uncertainty. We need to evolve how we look at information. That means, for instance, that we need to scrap the old X-Y graphics and replaced them with new ones, that adjust much better to our experiences.

More importantly, in this ever-expanding world of information, we need to evolve towards a state of perpetual learning. However, the state of perpetual learning will only happen if learning becomes more efficient. A lot more efficient and a lot more abundant. The only way we will be able to achieve this, is by allowing teachers to become students and vice versa, in the same way that in quantum mechanics, particles can either be a wave or a particle. We need to make learning an universal concept at any levels, open to all independently of age, location, etc.

This very important duality between teacher-student can only occur if we have a way to assess (qualify and quantify) what each of us knows, how deep it goes and how willing we are to receive or give it. We need to know the force of our knowledge, in the same way that a nuclear scientist knows how much energy can be produced from nuclear fuel.

Finally, the state of perpetual change is only going to emerge, if we make it rewarding. Knowledge needs to be commoditized in the same way, that we today look at electricity. There's a relation between money and energy, and the same needs to happen to knowledge. We need to be able to manage knowledge-chains in the same way we today manage industrial age values-chains. That can only be achieved if we define a quantum of knowledge, that is understood by all and we deploy markets to enable those transactions.

As you know, in the past I focused on applying new science to process management in general. Since the end of 2008, I have narrowed my focus on the mother of all processes; the learning process (epistemic process). My focus has been on creating the paradigms that will allows the migration from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.