From hierarchies (back) to communities

For people who want to develop their understanding of themselves as humans and of society, there is probably no single, better source in the western world right now than The RSA. And I’m not exaggurating. The produce videos and podcasts of presentations and discussions with the most interesting people, often academics/writers but also politicians and business people. Think TED, but three times deeper and wider and without the flashiness.

At the RSA website there is a link to Matthew Taylor’s blog , Taylor is the Chief Excecutive of the RSA and sharp as a knife. He often comments and reflects on past presentations, and combines the insights in interesting ways. In his most recent blog he writes about how the society and its actors need to move – and is moving – towards a more networked, relational way of working, away from the hierarchical tradition:

Professor Keith Grint has explored the approach needed to address these wicked issues and speaks of the need for leadership which is ‘about questions not answers, ‘about reflection not reaction’ and ‘about relationships not structures’. To that I would add the thought (derived from this book) that leadership in less complex, more deferential times was about push (driving out instructions, messages and products) while now it is about ‘pull’ (finding ways of engaging people, fostering collaboration and attracting talent).

In an earlier post named University challenged he comments on the state of universities and states:

The ‘kind of university the 21st century needs’ could be hypothesised as follows:

Hierarchical authority  – ‘post bureaucratic and ‘normative’ i.e. based on creating a strong and inclusive conversation across the university about role, mission and distinctive character. Rather than acting as a transmission belt for governmental and commercial pressures mediating those pressures in pursuit of a shared vision. (As Keith Grint advocates; questions not answers, reflection not reaction, relationships not structures)

Solidarity – rekindled through the development of a new public value model for universities emphasising the unique contribution they can make as integrated institutions cultivating ‘new enlightenment’ values (both within and without the institution).

Individualism – ‘entrepreneurial’ (universities as experimental places not just places which conduct experiments), and ‘humanist’ (exemplifying a post materialist ideal of individual development and fulfilment (e.g. resolving the incompatibility of ‘deferential’ learner and ‘sovereign’ consumer through the development of the ideal of student as citizen).

It would be really nice to live long enough to see a clear movement in this direction, and, if possible, be part of it.

On Learning Styles

Despite reports funded but Government, academic institutions and professional psychologists, decrying learning styles theory, and VAK in particular, it persists across the learning world, promulgated by poor teacher training and ‘train the trainer’ courses. It would not be far wrong to describe it as a theoretical virus that has infected education and training on a global scale, kept alive by companies peddling CPD to teachers. Its appeal is clearly in the intuitive appeal that learners are different, which is certainly true but there appears to be little evidence to support the idea that they can be put into these simple boxes. Learning professionals certainly need to understand the considerable differences between learners but the debate seems to have fossilised around this caricature of a theory.

– Donald Clark

Only the students suffer

Professors need to stop and really think about education. Of course, the problem is that they have no motivation to do so. They are well paid and having a good time. Only the students suffer.

– Roger Schank in his blog Educational outrage

GIS-videor på webben

För den som vill lära sig grunderna i ArcGIS 10 kan de skärmvideofilmer jag producerar som bäst vara till nytta. Det kommer troligen att bli ca 25 filmer på 5-15 minuter före slutet av året. Jag gör filmerna för en virtuell grundkurs i GIS jag drar för lantmäteristuderande i Vasa nu under hösten.

Jag har för flera år sedan proklamerat att det undervisningsmaterial jag skapar omfattas av en Creative Commons-licens, se nedan. Ingen har problematiserat detta, så jag sprider mina alster mer eller mindre fritt i enlighet med tidens anda.

Creative Commons License
GIS training by Romi Rancken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

For English-speaking people: I have about 10 videos in English too, made for ArcGIS 9.3 and Spatial Analyst. If anyone is interested, I could put them up on the site as well. Ask for it in the comments!

Hey – that’s me!

Harold Jarche is one of my primary sieves when it comes to capture useful viewpoints expressed somewhere on the (anglophone) web. And then he usually adds value to these by commenting on them.

Yesterday he pointed to a list by Neal Gorenflo that contains the main attributes of a knowledge worker. It was almost scary to read – I recognize myself in every aspect.

  • Knowledge workers understand information as currency. Sharing is a core strategy for success even in a corporate context. This can bring knowledge workers to the commons. 
  • Their worldview is informed by systems thinking or is polyglot. It’s not informed by a single political ideology.
  • They understand that influence depends on the ability to persuade, and that choice of language is important. They will not use political language that has been marginalized. They’re all in this sense salespeople.
  • Knowledge workers can become moderate radicals, meaning they believe that fundamental change is needed but are politically a mixed bag, they borrow ideas from left and right, from religion, from science. And they have friends and relatives on both side of the political spectrum.
  • They do not have stable identities or their identities are not wrapped up in a single belief system. They are always wondering who they are. This is a source of angst.  But what they lack in identity, they make up for in opportunity. They have options.

And in Swedish I would like to call a knowledge worker “kunskapare”.