Absorbing complexity with PKM

Have you ever heard of the Law of Requisite Variety? Anne Marie McEwan explains its effects, in Why Your Network is Your Life Support System:

The concept implies that organisations that fail to distribute responsibility for absorbing complexity will eventually cease to be viable – they will not be resilient against shocks coming at them from their external environment.

Anne Marie goes on to explain how important professional learning networks are to each and every one of us. Networked learning is not just good for your organization, but you as a person. I have never met Anne Marie, yet I I learn from her and consider her a professional colleague. We both use social technologies to reach out into the complexity and try to make sense of it.

One of the most spectacular possibilities that social technologies offer is that our individual creativity and knowledge is exponentially expanded by connecting to our personal networks – both within and outside organisational boundaries. Our need to learn and be socially connected are profound. And social technologies let us do both of those things on a massive scale.

The process of seeking out people and information sources, making sense of them by taking some action, and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge, are those activities from which we can build our knowledge. Managing and sharing information, especially through conversations, are fundamental processes for sense-making in the complex domain. Sense-making is acting on one’s knowledge. This is PKM and the Seek > Sense > Share framework.

With complex problems there is not often a simple correct answer. Instead we have to try things out and share our experiences in dealing with these problems. We can find others who are sharing their knowledge and in turn contribute our own. Becoming a participating member of knowledge networks better prepares us to deal with complexity and develop emergent practices. Sense-making is a continuing series of conversations, which social tools can facilitate. We know that conversation is a prime medium to share tacit (implicit) knowledge. Conversations around problems help make sense of them. Sharing these conversations, or our thoughts about them, closes the circle.

My aim in promoting personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is to provide a framework that anyone can build upon. The PKM in 40 Days online workshop is designed as a light structured approach to develop some of the skills needed to build your professional learning network. I talk about PKM to a wide variety of people. I explain that it’s a way to manage information and control your professional development, as well as a way to connect to other professionals. Pretty well everyone I talk to has said that they see the need for PKM and would like to be better at managing their knowledge. But most people do not have the time or do not know where to start. This workshop is one way to start. It begins on 31 March 2014.

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