Skills for the 21st Century

From 2011, but good. The four drivers of change:

  1. Longevity, in terms of the age of the workforce and customers – Retiring Later
  2. Smart machines, to augment and extend human abilities – Workplace Automation
  3. A computational world, as computer networks connect – Internet of Everything
  4. New media, that pervade every aspect of life – Online Privacy
  5. Superstructed organizations, that scale below or beyond what was previously possible – AirBNB
  6. A globally connected world, with a multitude of local cultures and competition from all directions- Geek NationFrom http://jarche.com/2014/07/four-basic-skills-for-2020/

Matched by the 10 core skills:

  1. Sense making –  Ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social intelligence –  Ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking –  Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross cultural competency –  Ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking–  Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data based reasoning
  6. New Media Literacy – Ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinary –  Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design Mindset –  Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive load management –  Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functions
  10. Virtual collaboration – Ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual teamFrom http://www.top10onlinecolleges.org/work-skills-2020/

All started with the Institute for the Future document.

Personal Wikis and Link Autosuggestion

I absolutely love wikis and have used them personally and professionally for years.

I was not surprised to learn recently that the US intelligence community uses them extensively 1. As does the UK’s GCHQ 2.

I think I started out with Wikidpad as my personal wiki before it was even open sourced. It was (and is) a phenomenal wiki. Windows native, but Python based so with some effort you can get it running on Linux and OS X too.

When I started using OS X both at work and personally, I moved my Wikidpad notes to nvAlt, another stupendous personal information manager that combined near instantaneous search with the ability to create a note right out of your search and super easy note linking with link autocompletion.

Confluence nvalt

A killer feature for me is the ability to get link suggestions/autocompletions as you type. Just Type [[ and start typing a name and if it exists you get a list of matching linked notes you can select and link to. Confluence, Wikipad, naval and SahrePoint Wiki all have this natively. You can get it in MediaWiki with plugins like LinkSuggest, but it only starts to suggest after the first three letters. This feature is missing from OneNote, although linking via [[ is supported.

Whilst I loved nvAlt for my personal wiki / notebook, I also wanted a public notebook or wiki.

I tended to find myself using one of two wikis for pubic wikis: MediaWiki or Confluence .

I had been using MediaWiki for several projects (e.g. the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club wiki) and found it a phenomenally powerful platform, especially when you extend it with plugins like Semantic MediaWiki. I also greatly enjoyed Confluence. I used it for many years in a former company, where it was an indispensable tool for us. We used to for all our internal documentation, but also for external facing user documentation.

Confluence is hard to beat on features, especially the much loved link autocompletion feature.  It is a full on Enterprise wiki, but it comes at a price. Unlike MediaWiki, you need a dedicated VM / computer to run it. It is Java based and needs loads of memory to be performant. The license is dirt cheap for individuals and small teams ($10 for 10 users) but as soon as you exceed this you are paying big bucks for the software. You also need to be fairly technically proficient to operate a Confluence instance, but it is very well supported too.

These days I am mostly using OneNote for my notes and personal wiki. It is an absolutely superb piece of software that “just works” on every platform I uses (Windows, OSX, iOS, Windows Phone). I have filed a feature request (internally) with the OneNote team for them  to support link autocompletion. If you like the idea, please vote for it on  the OneNote team’s Uservoice.

I have been tempted to OneNote as a public wiki too. It is trivially easy to share a notebook with the public. The only problem is that the URLs are ugly and the notebook cannot be styled to look unique to you.

If I can find a way to easily shuttle my OneNotes to Confluence, I may have a winner. I can do all my composing in OneNote, then just publish to Confluence 3.

I am already considering doing this for blogging now that OneNote for Windows has a blogging feature now.

If you are looking for some resources to get started with your own wiki, here you go….

See also:

Transclusion – the inclusion of the content of a document into another document by reference. In Confluence, for example, you can mark up some text in one page and call that text into another page with a placeholder variable. This is super useful for avoiding duplication of content.

  1. “Structured analytic techniques for intelligence analysis by by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Randolph H. Pherson (2011)
  2. One of Edward Snowden’s leaks was a copy of the “Internal Wikipedia” used by GCHQ
  3. Plugin writers, I beseech you!

Four degrees of separation that help simplify work

From: http://changingminds.org/blog/0902blog/090225blog.htm

Much work these days is packaged up as projects, with plans, resources and time-bound deliverables. Managing projects is a skill as the various risks and issues can easily trip you up. In particular the sheer complexity can cause much extra work and conceal important issues.

Here, then, are four ways of making things simpler by separating out things that need your attention in different ways.

1. Separate rapidly changing things from slowly changing things. This makes changes (and communication about them) easier. For example a strategic plan, which changes little is separated from a rapidly-changing tactical plan.

2. Separate things that require attention now from points of information. This allows a sharper focus on action. For example items that require decisions may be covered first in a meeting, then information discussions continued in the remaining time.

3. Separate planned action from unexpected action. This allows both to be clearly managed and for plans to be revised as needed. For example issues are managed separately from standard project plans, thus allowing both onto the stage.

4. Separate internal project communications from external communications. Internal communications can be detailed, technical, textual and full of jargon. External communications should be focused, brief, visual and use Plain English.

You can also use the principle of separation to create clarity in documents and presentations by:

* Using colour, bold fonts, and other visual contrasts.
* Using lines and physical separation.
* Visual/physical separation into sections, pages, documents.

Selected Rules of Consulting

Photo by Peter Hayes (click for original). Creative Commons

Gerald Weinberg is the grandmaster of consulting and project management. From the hundreds of hints and tips on offer in his excellent secrets of consulting series, Adrian Segar explores his favorite 19 :

You’ll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit. (The Credit Rule.) Check your ego at the door.

In spite of what your client may tell you, there’s always a problem. (The First Law of Consulting.) Yes, most people have a hard time admitting they have a problem.

No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. (The Second Law of Consulting.) I learned this after about five years of being engaged as a technical consultant and repeatedly having CEOs confiding to me their non-technical woes…

If they didn’t hire you, don’t solve their problem. (The Fourth Law of Consulting.) A common occupational disease of consultants: we rush to help people who haven’t asked for help.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (The First Law of Engineering.) Must. Not. Unscrew the tiny screws just to check what’s inside.

Clients always know how to solve their problems, and always tell you the solution in the first five minutes. (The Five-Minute Rule.) Unbelievably, this is true—the hard part is listening well enough to notice.

If you can’t accept failure, you’ll never succeed as a consultant. (The Hard Law.Everyone makes mistakes, and that can be a good thing.

Helping myself is even harder than helping others. (The Hardest Law.) The hardest things to notice are things about myself.

The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. (The Law of Raspberry Jam.) Or, as Jerry rephrases it: Influence or affluence; take your choice.

When the clients don’t show their appreciation, pretend that they’re stunned by your performance—but never forget that it’s your fantasy, not theirs. (The Lone Ranger Fantasy.) “Who was that masked man, anyway?”

The most important act in consulting is setting the right fee. (Marvin’s Fifth Great Secret.) Setting the right fee takes a huge burden off your shoulders.

“We can do it—and this is how much it will cost.” (The Orange Juice Test.) Jerry uses an example straight from the meetings world for this one—event professionals will recognize the situation, and appreciate the insight.

Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered. (Prescott’s Pickle Principle.) Sadly, the longer you work with a client, the less effective you get.

It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the ending of an illusion. (Rhonda’s First Revelation.) A positive way to think about unpleasant change.

When you create an illusion, to prevent or soften change, the change becomes more likely—and harder to take.(Rhonda’s Third Revelation.) Notice and challenge your illusions before they turn into crises.

If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking. (The Rule of Three.) The perfect antidote to complacency about your plans.

The best marketing tool is a satisfied client. (The Sixth Law of Marketing.) Word of mouth is the best channel for new work; being able to satisfy my clients led me to a successful, twenty-two year IT consulting career without using advertising or agents.

Give away your best ideas. (The Seventh Law of Marketing.) When you teach your clients to handle future similar problems themselves, they’ll appreciate your generosity and are more likely to give you further work or good word of mouth to others.

Mental Tougness for Managers

I am enjoying the podcasts from the American Management Associations (AMA) podcast series Edgwise.

Today I listed to an interesting interview with  Dr. Graham Jones, an world expert on Mental Toughness. Well worth a listen.

What does Lebron James have in common with Warren Buffet? Whether we’re getting ready for the big game or the big meeting, we all deal with high pressure situations; it’s natural to everyone on the job and a reality of the workforce. In his new book Thriving on Pressure: Mental Toughness for Real Leaders, Dr. Graham Jones encourages us to channel that pressure and make the hard decisions.

Dr. Jones is formerly professor of Elite Performance Psychology at the University of Wales in Bangor. An author of 150 White Papers in publications on the subject of high level performance. He is the Founding Director of Lane4 Management Group Limited, which is a leading performance in consultancy that has offices in the U.S. and around the world.

Dr.
Graham Jones on Mental Toughness » AMA Edgewise

Information Graphics by Jeff McNeill

This is another presentation from Jeff McNeill (who brought you the Drucker and Goldratt Concept map).

This one is an introduction to Information Graphics, a topic I that has fascinated me ever since coming across Edward Tufte and recently stimulated by Dan Roam’s superb Back of the Napkin series of books on Visual Thinking.

Drucker and Goldratt Concept Map

This is a concept map showing the key ideas and relationships between Peter Drucker’s Effective Executive and the Theory of Constraints by Eliyahu Goldratt (The Goal, It’s Not Luck).

It was created by Jeff McNeill using IHMC Cmap Lite. Another concept mapping tool is Sciral’s excellent Flying Logic visual planning application.

The map is well worth downloading and reviewing at full size.