Tag: manifesto

Coming up with a manifesto to underpin my work

I don’t talk about my limited company very often on this blog. That’s mainly because when people pay me to do some consultancy for them, they want me to do the work. Dynamic Skillset Ltd. is just who their finance department pays, and the name of an organisation that occasionally appears on my slide decks.

While things are going well and I’m perfectly happy with current arrangements, it’s time for me to belatedly write a mission and manifesto for Dynamic Skillset. That’s for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s just a good thing to do: it means I’ll know with confidence what I should say ‘yes’ to, and what I should probably decline.
  2. Writing a mission statement is something I advise all organisations to do if they haven’t already got one — so it’s a bit disingenuous for my own not to have one!

It was working at Mozilla that convinced me of the power of the organisational mission and manifesto. The idea is that everyone’s work is tied to the mission, and both new and current work can be tested against the Mozilla manifesto. In fact, the work I led there around the Web Literacy Map is actually linked to from the manifesto itself. I can remember being in meetings where someone would come up with an idea, only for it to be shot down with the (quite legitimate) response, “how is this moving forward the open web?”

So, missions and manifestos are extremely powerful. The mission ensures that you’re laser-focused on what the organisation was set up to do. For charities and non-profits, this is likely to be about making the world better in some way. You can see some examples here. For publicly-traded companies, it’s providing a financial return for shareholders. The mission is the ‘why’ of your organisation.

The reason you need a mission and a manifesto is because there are many ways to arrive at the same destination. The guiding principles of how you go about achieving your mission is what your manifesto is for. It needs to be specific enough to allow you to choose one course of action over another, but not so specific that you need to update the manifesto too regularly. There has to be some, what I would call, ‘productive ambiguity’ in there.


A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus and/or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance. (Wikipedia)


In early 2017, I changed the strapline at dynamicskillset.com to read ‘helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology’. I’m happy with that. It seems like a decent enough mission. What I need to do now is come up with a manifesto. Note that I’m not plucking this out of thin air — I do think about this stuff, but just haven’t written it down before now!

Given that it might take a few iterations to get this right, please note that what follows may not be up-to-date if you visit this page after February 2017.

  1. Share openly — The open sharing of ideas and resources contributes to the development of a more progressive and inclusive society.
  2. Teach digital skills and literacies — No individual is born knowing how to use digital tools. Therefore, the effective use of technology is something that has to be learned.
  3. Embrace change — Change is in the fundamental nature of things, so adaptation is an important mindset to adopt.
  4. Trust, but check — Collaboration and teamwork is built upon trust. This, along with many things, cannot be measured using a spreadsheet.
  5. Encourage diversity in credentialing — People are more than their job history and academic achievements. Alternative credentialing systems can allow for more democratic environments that represent individuals in a more holistic way.
  6. Evangelise for stronger privacy and security — Privacy and security are related, but different concepts. We should care about privacy for the same reason we put curtains on our windows, and security for the same reason that we put locks on our doors.
  7. Go open source wherever possible — Open source software, hardware, and governance are ideal states that can encourage stable, inclusive platforms for innovation.
  8. Respect difference — Most people work best in different ways, at different times, and in different places than the 9-5 office based job.
  9. Discover what motivates peopleMoney, and other forms of financial compensation, are less effective than other incentives at encouraging desired behaviours.
  10. Focus on learning — Education is to learning what management is to leadership.

It’s not perfect by any means, and as soon as I hit publish I’ll probably think of other things and different ways of saying the above. However, after being prompted by the latest issue of Emma Cragg’s newsletter, I thought I’d better get something written…

Social media, open standards & curmudgeonliness.

The problem:

Harold Jarche:

The increasing use of software as a service (SaaS)… is simple, easy and out of your control.

Luis Suarez:

I guess I could sum it up in one single sentence: “The more heavily involved I’m with the various social networking sites available out there, the more I heart my own… blogs“.

It all has got to do with something as important as protecting your identity, your brand… your personal image, your own self in various social software spaces that more and more we seem to keep losing control over, and with no remedy.

A proposed solution:

Harold Jarche:

Own your own data (CC-BY Harold Jarche)

I’ve decided to start the Curmudgeon’s Manifesto, which may serve as a call to arms to start dumping platforms that don’t understand how to play nice on the Internet. It’s our playground, and through our actions we get to set the rules of conduct.

Here’s my start (additions welcome):

  1. I will not use web services that hijack my data or that of my network.
  2. I will share openly on the Web and not constrain those with whom I share.
  3. I will not lead others into the temptation of using web services that do not respect privacy, re-use, open formats or exportable data.

An alternative solution:

Wikipedia:

An open standard is a standard that is publicly available and has various rights to use associated with it, and may also have various properties of how it was designed (e.g. open process).

The term “open standard” is sometimes coupled with “open source” with the idea that a standard is not truly open if it does not have a complete free/open source reference implementation available.

OpenSocial:

OpenSocial

Friends are fun, but they’re only on some websites. OpenSocial helps these sites share their social data with the web. Applications that use the OpenSocial APIs can be embedded within a social network itself, or access a site’s social data from anywhere on the web.

Harold Jarche:

Blog Central

One way to keep information accessible is to use an open, accessible, personal blog as the centre of your web presence.

OpenID:

OpenID is a decentralized standard, meaning it is not controlled by any one website or service provider. You control how much personal information you choose to share with websites that accept OpenIDs, and multiple OpenIDs can be used for different websites or purposes. If your email (Google, Yahoo, AOL), photo stream (Flickr) or blog (Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal) serves as your primary online presence, OpenID allows you to use that portable identity across the web.

Conclusion:

Change the name of the Curmudgeon’s Manifesto to the Open Educators’ Manifesto (or similar). Back OpenID and OpenSocial. People like to sign up to positive-sounding things that cite big players or existing traction. I’m sure Chris Messina and other open (source/web) advocates have a take on this! 😀

Why ‘digital literacy’ is central to 21st century education.

ChangeThis is a website dedicated to manifestos written by anyone (but usually professionals and experts) about something they feel passionately about changing. There are some really great ones – for example Hugh MacLeod on How To Be Creative and Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start. I’ve just had a proposal accepted entitled, Why ‘digital literacy’ is central to 21st century education. I’d like you to vote for the proposal so I can write the full manifesto, please! :-p

Here’s the summary I added to the site:

Society is in flux. The global economy is in meltdown. Education is in turmoil. Why? The world has, and is, changing faster than we can keep up. One of the reasons for this disconnect is our insistence on teaching our young people in the same way that we ourselves learned. We’re teaching as if there were a dearth of resources, when actually we’re spoiled for choice.

‘Digital literacy’ is a term much debated, but which allows us to grasp hold of an important concept. Literacy in the digital arena just isn’t the same as it is when sitting at a desk with paper and pencil. But how is it different? And what can we do about it?

Allow me to suggest some ways in which we can come up with a workable definition for ‘digital literacy’ and show you methods by which we can educate our young people for the blended digital/physical world they do, and shall, inhabit!

Writing the manifesto will give a focus to my thesis-writing over the next few weeks and will hopefully be something you can point people towards to explain the importance of moving to 21st century skills and learning! 😀

Please vote.

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