Weeknotes 394

This week I did:

Not very much

I was on leave, and apart from one small, but I feel justified, work thing, I managed to stay away from work. That doesn’t happen often, usually I work when on leave, but it gave me more time for thinking.

I read:

UK charity camp

Francis Bacon’s insightful reflections on the state of digital in the charity sector from Charity Camp shows how charities are struggling to use digital beyond fundraising, must work out how it will fund enduring digital services, and are not open or sharing enough. Sector-wide digital transformation looks like it’s becoming more and more of a challenge. Things are changing faster and the charity sector is falling further behind.

Joy of agility

I started ready Joshua Kerievsky’s Joy of agility. The thing I’m taking away most is that to be able to respond to change quickly takes lots of preparation and even more practice.

Team work is broken

Mural’s team work research says “66% of knowledge workers aren’t very happy with how their team works together.” They don’t have any answers (other than using their product, of course) but it’s a fascinating area organisations should be experimenting in.

Digital Innovation for Student Success: Research & Development Insights 23/24

This presentation about digital innovation for student success from King’s Collage, London talks about revitalising digital strategy by going from dead projects to living products and harnessing AI to enhance student success. It feels like a revealing slice of ‘where we are right now’ in the digital transformation of education.

Social learning systems and communities of practice

I’m a regular reader of Doug’s posts, but this one on social learning systems stood out as super interesting.

Why you need to fail

We should all make more mistake.

And I thought about:

The product problem for different sectors

The product problem facing higher education is clearer than that facing charities.

Charities tackle wicked problems and there isn’t (yet) the competitive impetus for digital transformation. So, not only is digital transformation not a pressing existential issue, it isn’t clear how to tackle the issue.

But in the higher education sector, the product problem is clearer. Every university is racing to figure out how to provide effective digital/online learning, engaging user experiences, etc. Those that get there first and stay ahead will win.

Parts and wholes

Thinking about complicated systems and our tendency to pick out the parts that seem simple and ignore the whole system, my mind wandered to Kanban. David Anderson, writing in 2010, defined five core properties of Kanban:

  1. Visualize the workflow
  2. Limit Work in Progress (WIP)
  3. Manage flow
  4. Make process policies explicit
  5. Improve collaboratively

Of all those, the one that seems most obvious and intuitive to us is ‘limit work in progress’. It makes sense and is immediately actionable.

So, my question is, does limiting work in progress alone create enough benefit for the system or does it take all five properties working together to actually improve the system?

The organisation paradox

People are wonderful, organisations are awful. How can this be?

Talk to someone face-to-face and they go out of their way to be helpful. But put policies and procedures, incentives and measures, in the way, and suddenly dealing with an organisation becomes difficult.

Organisations are designed by those very same people who are fundamentally good, so how does this paradox come about? Why can’t wonderful people create wonderful organisations?

(I should make clear my bias towards the prime directive and believing that people are fundamental good, and that Dalberg-Acton was right when he said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We have dictators and sociopathic CEO’s because we’ve created the social systems that enables and empowers those people. The fault lies with the system, but the system is designed by people. This is the organisation paradox.)