Sense-making in practice

Maria Popova at does an excellent review of the 1936 book, You Can Do Anything by James Mangan. She covers in detail the section on 14 Ways to Acquire Knowledge. These align nicely with the Seek : Sense : Share of personal knowledge management as shown below.

Doing PKM

I placed Write & Reason into the Share category, but they can also fit into Sense-making. Sense-making is the necessary value-add of PKM. Without it, there is no knowledge to share, only others’ work to be re-broadcasted. Looking at PKM as pre-curation shows how important a personal sense-making process is in order to be of service to one’s networks, whether personal or professional. PKM is each person’s part of the social learning contract. Mangan’s 14 ways to acquire knowledge provide another set of possibilities on how to develop a unique PKM process. There are no best practices in PKM, only principles and examples to draw inspiration from.

For another perspective on this theme, Chris Brogan advises people to, Read, then Act.

I recently purchased a bunch of different fitness magazines. The experience was interesting. I pulled the following actionable information from what I learned:

* If there was a long article with someone, it was useful. If it was a “tidbits” kind of article, it was rarely useful (usually the questions were fluff).

* If there was a “recipe,” as I like to call them, the articles were useful. If it was just “informative,” I couldn’t actually remember the lesson.

* If the article suggested other resources, the information suggested was always helpful in deepening my understanding.

* Articles that prompted an action instead of a thought process got me to take the action more often. Articles that wanted me to think a certain way were easy to forget.

Sense-making is acting on one’s knowledge. In my own work, if I did not have client projects to test out some of the ideas I have developed, my knowledge would have stagnated. In the case of PKM, it was an interesting idea that I personally put into practice at first. However, it was in explaining this concept to others, then running workshops and coaching people, that I really understood PKM well and learned much more.

“To be is to do.” – Socrates

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2 Responses to “Sense-making in practice”

  1. Michelle Ockers

    Thanks for this really clear explanation of what sense-making is, and the action-oriented approach to sense-making. Reading this post has been a real “a-ha” moment for me.

  2. Chemene Sinson

    I concur with Michelle. The mind map is especially useful. It’s succinct and lists practical examples of HOW we seek / sense / share. I can do this.