We are such idiots, us thinkers. Babbling on, assuming that thinking makes a difference. Wild ideas compensating for dull lives. TED for the daily commute.

Thinking is like horn on a motor car. We are like a small child sitting in the passenger seat, unable to resist the urge to lean across and honk the horn, convincing ourselves that this is what makes the wheels go round.

If you don’t understand this, then my saying it won’t make much difference.

If you want to make a difference then you need to do something different. If you want to make people change then you need to show them something they haven’t seen before.

And the doing and showing? These don’t come from talking and thinking – at least not the kind of thinking that we would recognise as such.

When I first joined the BBC I was given some sage advice by someone soon to retire:

‘Just remember Nick, nobody ever got fired for not making a decision.’

I have often thought back to that advice.

I see a lot of fear in organisations. And that fear makes people behave badly: arse-covering emails, a culture of blame, failure to speak up, cowardice, selfishness.

Doing nothing becomes the safest thing to do.

Think of learning as friction: in a mechanical system, there are times when friction is tolerated, even desirable - such as a drill bit.

But generally it is a sign that something is wrong, needs fixing - it is a symptom of inefficiency.

And so it is with learning: 'learning' is organisational friction. 30 years ago my first computer was a BBC micro B. It came with a stack of manuals - you needed to learn DOS.

A while back I was reminded (by Donald Clark) of David’s Hume’s use of the term ‘impressions’ in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and of its possible similarity to my use of ‘affective context’ in describing the process by which we learn.

The nature of postmodernism: that there is no truth, only competing stories is now so familiar that it has become cliché.

The postmodern world is a political world, a conversational world, a decidedly European world where reality is resolved through the interplay of perspectives.

So what is Twitter? Twitter is proof that the postmodern world exists at the edge of  plane – that it is the end of an era but not the end of history – the most you can accomplish in two dimensions.

Like many of us, tracking major trends in the following areas: mobile, workforce of one, micro-tasks, big data, automation, text-image, synchronous-asynchronous, networking, augmented reality, squeezed middle.

But there is a meta-trend that governs all these: granularisation. 

Non-linear systems self-organise so as to dissipate energy efficiently.

At best, half my life went by before I noticed it: that we were different.

During that time I thought talking to be sufficient: it took an age to realise that superficial similarities were just that. A full ten years passed during which all I could think was 'Why can't I make myself understood?' Far too late I realised that understanding moves at a glacial pace; that what I can say is only what can be heard. That 'understanding' is a collective noun.

What if your real job was learning elimination?

Learning is generally a sign that something hasn't been well designed. Learning is like friction - it's costly, inefficient and indicative of dysfunction. For a business, learning says 'something needs fixing here'.

The wonderful thing about an iPad is that you can give it to an 8-yr old or an 80-yr old and they don't need a manual. My first computer was the BBC Micro B. You had to program it in basic.

Thinking back over HRTech last week, the highlights of were the conversations: especially with Charles, Euan, David, Kate, Nicole and Ray.

@Euan ran an excellent session on social media - in a refreshingly conversational format - and it struck me how much people are still struggling with both the concept and the practicalities. Some of the issues (for example industry regulation) are pretty intractable - but I'd like to tackle a couple of the tractable ones.