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Wherefore, part the first

Dave Snowden

We tend to read ‘ wherefore ’ as a question asking where something is, but the meaning is actually for what , or why as in “ Wherefore was I born” (Shakespeare, Richard III Act 2 scene 3) and Juliet’s more famous rendering which is attempting to locate her love but to ask why does he have to be a Montague; remember it is followed by “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” In this two-part post, my first since the Christmas series, I want to take a look at the three-part question What? So What? Now What? which is deceptively simple and can easily tend to the simplistic. It appears in Liberating Structures without (as is all too common in that otherwise useful tool) without attribution. It is more commonly attributed to Glenda Eoyang’s Adaptive Action but its first formulation goes back to Terry Borton in 1970 and it was then developed by John Driscoll in the context of clinical practice which is where I suspect Glenda got it, but I could be wrong there. I’ve put the three representations in rough date order to the right of the text below. Basically I want to ask the wherefore question as to its use and (tomorrow) map it to all five domains of Cynefin. Just to give you a taster, my argument is that the linear use of the three-part question effectively sits in the confused or unordered domain of Cynefin. It is probably worth starting with the Driscoll sequence in the context of clinical care. He links it to a learning cycle which is represented in the following stages: Having an Experience. WHAT? describe event, then … Purposefully reflect on the selected aspects of the experience. SO WHAT? conduct an analysis of the event … Discover the learning arising from this process of reflection. NOW WHAT? Determine proposed actions following the event. Enact the new learning from that experience in clinical practice. Then loop back to the start. Adaptive action (Eoyang) aims to conduct multiple connected iterations of the three questions in allow coherence over the system to emerge as “the parts use simple rules to guide their work toward shared goals (my emphasis). The process focuses on the identification of patterns and use of the CDE (Containers, Differences, Exchanges) to understand what is generating those patterns and the link to Plan-Do-Check-Act is made although it is not named as the Deming cycle. Amplification and dampening of those patterns, shaping new patterns are all up there as actions. The process is based on workshops, discussions and (I assume) learned individual behaviour. While the process is linear it does have multiple interconnections and the Now What? stage can trigger other stages and so on. Coherence for Glenda is all about “internal fitness” and adaptive means “external fitness’. Defining terms in complexity work is key as, at the moment, everyone is using the language in different ways. Once you are at the Now What? stage, the process becomes a familiar set of project management questions and task assignment: who is doing what, how long will it take with what resource, who has to be involved, what will it mean to complete and (importantly) how will this trigger a new What? the whole idea is that nothing ever ends. Finally, the Liberating structures guys revert to the linear, overlaying a systems dynamics model on to W³. I tend to put this into the mostly harmless category as they are focused on workshop experiences. That said having recently watched some Liberating Structures facilitators tear the heart out of Future Backwards by conforming it to the goal-based idealism of systems dynamics was depressing. Given that they attributed it to me and asked for my endorsement I think I was fairly restrained in my response. Now there may be other uses – if so please post them. I can be positive and negative about the three that I have listed. Tomorrow I ended to map W³ to Cynefin using (for the first time) the five Cs namely Clear, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic and Confused. I will argue that all the above – given that they are universal and in part linear – while useful are not energy efficient. But that is for tomorrow. My apologies for the absence of blog posts but I have been busy on various things including design of next generation of SenseMaker® which has me more excited than I’ve been for a long time. A complete shift away from a survey like platform to a radical new approach to distributed decision support; current SenseMaker® will simply be one instance of something more sophisticated. We expect to open up for participation in a couple of months. Otherwise, I am going to try and get back to posting here at least once a week, ideally more. Acknowledgments. The Letter W in the text is by Leo Reynolds discovered in Flickr as is the banner picture , both and used under the terms a creative commons license. The post Wherefore, part the first appeared first on Cognitive Edge. musing Polemic

Can Democracy and Free Markets Survive in the Coming Age of AI?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Can technology plan economies and destroy democracy?

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The State of AI Adoption - High Performers Show the Way

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

For the past few years, the McKinsey Global Institute has been conducting a yearly survey to assess the state of AI adoption. Its 2017 survey of over 3,000 AI-aware executive found that outside the technology sector, AI adoption was at an early, often experimental stage.

Death to Zombies!

Clark Quinn

Last week, I ranted about a myth that seems inextinguishable. And I ran across another one in a place I shouldn’t have. And I keep seeing others, spotting them roaming around loose. Like zombies, they seem to rise from the dead. We need death to zombies. Particularly learning myth zombies!

working smarter

Harold Jarche

For the past several centuries we have used human labour to do what machines cannot. First the machines caught up with us and surpassed humans with their brute force. Now they are surpassing us with their brute intelligence.

How to Learn Using Technology

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

Learning with technology is different from learning with textbooks or learning with classroom instruction. In these, the focus is on understanding and remembering. It is content based. The learning objective is defined as mastery of this body of knowledge.

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Mobile Learning: Making Content Available Anytime, Anywhere


Mobile learning, also called M-learning or mLearning, is any type of content that is developed or consumed on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and including anything from podcasts to full eLearning courses.

More Trending

learning about machine learning

Harold Jarche

Why is machine learning [ML] important for your business? If you work at Nokia, your Chairman can explain it to you in a one hour presentation he developed over six months of research. Risto Siilasmaa helped make his network smarter.

Data 202

Flying to Conferences

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

I just want to take a few moments to consider Bryan Alexander's comments about flying to conferences. As most readers know, I have flown to hundreds of academic conferences over the years. So I guess I would be considered a prime offender in this regard.

Why Some AI Efforts Succeed While Many Fail

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Winning with AI , - a 2019 report based on a survey jointly conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group , - found that 90% of respondents agree that AI represents a business opportunity for their company.

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Hybrid Worlds

Luis Suarez

Over the course of the last six years, since I went independent, I have had the opportunity (and still do!) of unlearning a few things in the space of knowledge sharing and collaboration tools.

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Images processed 60K faster? No! And more…

Clark Quinn

Recently, I’ve run into the claim that images are processed 60K times faster than text. And, folks, it’s a myth. More over, it’s exemplary of bad practices in business. And so it’s worth pointing out what the situation is, why it’s happening, and why you should be on guard. It’s easy to find the myth. Just search on “images processed 60K times faster than text” You’ll get lots of citations, and a few debunkings.

leadership through cooperation

Harold Jarche

One of the few areas where most nations cooperate is in infectious disease control.

Educational Research in Learning Technology

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

In this post I discuss the nature (and weaknesses) of research in our field. I am broadly sympathetic with the arguments offered by Philip J.

Conceptualizing AI in Human Terms is Misleading and Potentially Harmful

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“We speak of machines that think , learn , and infer.

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Luis Suarez

Back on January 20th, I celebrated ( quietly ) my 23rd anniversary in the IT industry. Quite an achievement, indeed, if you would ask me, for someone who graduated as an English teacher back in the day and who didn’t have much of an interest in technology in the first place.

Signifying change

Clark Quinn

I have a persistent interest in the potential for myth and ritual for learning. In the past I sought a synthesis of what’s known as good practice (as always ;) in an area I don’t have good resources in. When I looked over 10 years ago, there wasn’t much.

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managers are for caring

Harold Jarche

The evidence shows that while telecommuters create positive change , the major resistance against telecommuting comes from management. Our recent report showed that many workers we surveyed viewed managerial and executive resistance to telework as a major obstacle.

Saving the Internet—and all the commons it makes possible

Doc Searls

This is the Ostrom Memorial Lecture I gave on 9 October of last year for the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University. Here is the video. The intro starts at 8 minutes in, and my part starts just after 11 minutes in.)

Innovation and National Security in the 21st Century

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Countries that can harness the current wave of innovation, mitigate its potential disruptions, and capitalize on its transformative power will gain economic and military advantages over potential rivals,” was the top finding of the Innovation and National Security Task Force which was commissioned by the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) to assess the current state of US technological innovation. The Task Force noted that leadership in innovation, research and technology since World War II has made the US the most secure and economically prosperous nation on earth. “Today, this leadership position is at risk,” the Task Force warned. Federal support and funding for R&D has stagnated over the past two decades. “Washington has failed to maintain adequate levels of public support and funding for basic science. Federal investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP peaked at 1.86 percent in 1964 but has declined from a little over 1 percent in 1990 to 0.66 percent in 2016.”. The US has successfully responded to technological competition in the past. Sputnik was a tipping point in the space race with the Soviet Union during the cold war, leading to, among other things, a significant increase in the number of graduate student fellowships in STEM disciplines, of which I was personally a beneficiary. Another prominent example is the strong economic competition from Japan in the 1980s, which the US fended off a decade later with our leadership in the Internet and other major digital innovations. But three major forces now threaten America’s economic and national security: global innovation is both accelerating and more disruptive to industries, economies and societies; many national security technologies are now developed and commercialized by private sector global supply chains and markets, making it much more difficult for the US to control their worldwide availability; and. China, - which has emerged as both a US economic partner and strategic competitor, - is significantly increasing its government-led investments in R&D and talent. A major new wave of innovation is characterized by speed, disruption, and scale. Whereas it took 50 years from the invention of the telephone before half of all American homes had one, half of all Americans had a smartphone only five years after its invention. The costs of sequencing the human genome have declined from hundreds of millions of dollars when the genome was first sequenced in 2003 to under $1,000 now. T he rate and pace of business disruption is increasing. The average time companies spent on the S&P 500 declined from 61 years in 1958 to 17 years in 2011. In ten years, it’s expected that only 25% of companies currently on the S&P will still be in it. In addition, AI and automation are leading to major changes in the workforce. A 2017 McKinsey study concluded that while less that less than 10% of occupations will be entirely automated by 2030, 60% of jobs will be transformed through the automation of a significant fraction of their component tasks. The study noted that “while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging - matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.”. Let me summarize some of the major findings of the CFR-sponsored Task Force. US decades-old leadership in innovation and R&D is now at risk. The reasons, include decreased federal funding of R&D; a lack of strong education initiatives at home; immigration barriers that make it hard to attract and retain talented foreign students and workers; and trade policies that are alienating previous friends, allies and collaborators. The Defense Department and intelligence communities risk falling behind potential adversaries. Reasons include delays in deploying leading technologies developed by the private sector; challenges in attracting and retaining technology talent; and a “persistent cultural divide between the technology and policymaking communities.”. China is rapidly closing the technological gap with the US. “China is investing significant resources in developing new technologies, and after 2030 it will likely be the world’s largest spender on research and development.” Although it’s not likely to match US capabilities across the board, it’s expected to be a leading power in key technologies including AI, robotics, energy storage and 5G cellular networks. China is a different type of challenger than the old Soviet Union. China is both an economic partner and a strategic competitor. The US and China have both benefited from bilateral investments and trades, and China’s efforts to become a scientific and technological power could help drive global prosperity. However, “Chinese theft of intellectual property (IP) and its market-manipulating industrial policies threaten U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.”. Finally, said the Task Force, the US needs to develop a new innovation strategy based on four key pillars: Restore Federal Funding for Research and Development. Federal funding for R&D should be restored to its historical average, an increase from the present 0.7% of GDP ($146 billion) to 1.1% of GDP ($230 billion). The administration should sponsor moonshot initiatives in key areas like AI, 5G, genomics, and synthetic biology. At the same time, federal and state government should increase investments in universities by up to $20 billion a year for 5 years to support research in areas of pressing economic and national security. Attract and Educate a Science and Technology Workforce. “The White House, Congress, and academia should develop a twenty-first-century National Defense Education Act (NDEA), with the goal of expanding the pipeline of talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A twenty-first-century NDEA would support up to twenty-five thousand competitive STEM undergraduate scholarships and five thousand graduate fellowships.” Special attention should be given to addressing the underrepresentation of minorities and women in STEM fields. In addition, the US should staple a green card to an advanced diploma, that is, make it easier for foreign graduates of US universities in STEM fields to remain and work in the country, as well as passing legislation to permit talented immigrants to live and work in the US. Support Technology Adoption in the Defense Sector. “ Federal agencies and each of the military services should dedicate between 0.5 and 1 percent of their budgets to the rapid integration of technology,” and “Congress should establish a new service academy, the U.S. Digital Service Academy, and a Reserve Officer Training Corps for advanced technologies (ROTC-T) to foster the next generation of tech talent.”. Bolster and Scale Technology Alliances and Ecosystems. This includes creating technology alliances for the use and control of critical emerging technologies; working with trading partners to promote the secure and free flow of data and the development of common technology standards; encouraging American companies to invest in, export to, and form R&D partnerships with firms around the world; and developing a network of international cooperative science and technology partnerships to apply leading edge technologies to shared global challenges like climate change. “During the early years of the Cold War, confronted by serious technological and military competition from the Soviet Union, the United States invested heavily in its scientific base. Those investments ensured U.S. technological leadership for fifty years. Faced with the rise of China and a new wave of disruptive technological innovation, the country needs a similar vision and an agenda for realizing it. The United States must once again make technological preeminence a national goal.”. Artificial Intelligence Complex Systems Data Science and Big Data Economic Issues Education and Talent Innovation Management and Leadership Political Issues Society and Culture Technology and Strategy


Luis Suarez

If I were to describe with a single word the last three years since I wrote a blog post over here, that word would definitely be Transitions. You know what they say, change is hard; change is a constant, and, therefore, the only thing you can do is delay the inevitable.

The evolving role of the CIO and CMO in customer experience

Dion Hinchcliffe

The CIO and CMO must work more closely together and co-govern key resources today in new ways to address an often outdated and/or too inadequate approach to digital customer experience within most organizations

when trust is lost

Harold Jarche

When trust is lost, knowledge fails to flow. When knowledge flow is stemmed, trust is lost. There is widespread outcry in China over the death of Doctor Li Wenliang who identified the novel corona virus, was reprimanded by the police for discussing it in public, and then died from the virus.

The deeper issue

Doc Searls

Journalism’s biggest problem (as I’ve said before ) is what it’s best at: telling stories. That’s what Thomas B. Edsall (of Columbia and The New York Times ) does in Trump’s Digital Advantage Is Freaking Out Democratic Strategists , published in today’s New York Times.

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The Pace of Creative Destruction is Accelerating

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“A gale force warning to leaders: at the current churn rate, about half of S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years,” is one of the key insights from the 2018 Corporate Longevity Forecast.

Case Study: Driving a 75% Reduction in Translation Costs at Ford Motor Company


Ford Motor Company — the second-largest automotive manufacturer in the U.S. and fifth-largest in the world — knew that creation of learning content could be more efficient and cost-effective, using technology to help reimagine translation management. . Read the Case Study: Driving a 75% Reduction in Translation Costs at Ford Motor Company.

How a Learning Experience Platform Improves Retail Staff Productivity


Employee productivity is important across all industries, especially retail. Retail companies rely on the performance of their staff to generate sales and attract and retain customers. Without a productive workforce, a retail organization can’t survive.

skepticism and complexity

Harold Jarche

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. “Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” ” —John Dewey. “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars.

Do you really need all this personal information, @RollingStone?

Doc Searls

Here’s the popover that greets visitors on arrival at Rolling Stone ‘s website: Our Privacy Policy has been revised as of January 1, 2020. This policy outlines how we use your information. By using our site and products, you are agreeing to the policy.

What’s in an image?

Clark Quinn

My post earlier this week on the images processed 60K faster prompted some discussion (over on LinkedIn ;). And there appears to be some debate about the topic. I think it revolves around the issue of just what’s in an image. So let’s unpack that. So, the claim is that ‘images’ are processed 60K faster than text. And, of course, trying to find the actual citation has been an exercise in futility. But can we address it on principle? I’ll suggest we can.

RIP John Haydon

Beth Kanter

The nonprofit tech & marketing world has lost one of its legends, John Haydon, from cancer. If you do any work on digital strategy for nonprofits, you most likely knew John’s work and influenced by it.

6 Microlearning Tactics to Include in Your Corporate eLearning


Microlearning is one of the most effective types of corporate training employers can leverage. Whereas traditional training can be draining to some learners, microlearning is a different story.


Harold Jarche

If you find that people on social media have a tendency toward anger and outrage there is one action we all can take to diffuse the situation. It’s simple, but first we have to stop and think.

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anger, outrage & belonging

Harold Jarche

A topic of conversation in our monthly coffee club video call this morning was polarization — how different sides increasingly do not listen to each other but instead amplify their own positions. We can each come up with several examples, either from the political, or cultural spheres.

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the cooperative imperative

Harold Jarche

Collaboration is working together for a common purpose, often directed externally by a boss or client. Cooperation is freely sharing with no expectation of direct reciprocity — quid pro quo.

constant doubt and outrage

Harold Jarche

When I was visiting in Rome in 2012 I met a fellow tourist, an older gentleman from Australia, who told me that he had stopped a pick-pocket on the train who was trying to lift his wallet. He had cried out and grabbed the thief’s hand.

keep it simple

Harold Jarche

It is informative to have your work reflected back by others who have interpreted it in their own ways. This feedback gets integrated into my own continuing development of my sensemaking frameworks.

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