“PKM: A set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world & work more effectively.” (HJ)
Keeping track of the digital information flows around us and separating the signal from the noise is difficult. There is little time to make sense of it all. We may feel like we are just not able to stay current and make informed decisions.
PKM, and my Seek : Sense : Share framework, are discussed in Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human:
To make sense of the world, for ourselves and those we hope to move, we must wade through a mass of material flowing at use every day – selecting what’s relevant and discarding what’s not. (p. 147)
Download the latest PKM White Paper (PDF)
Too much communication today is by email, resulting in “In-Box Overload” and time for little else between attending meetings or trying to find that specific piece of information we need.
PKM gives you a framework to develop a network of people and sources of information that you can draw from on a daily basis. It a process of filtering, creating and discerning so that you spend less time answering email or finding that great presentation you saw, and more time focused on being a better practitioner of your craft.
PKM is not easy for everyone, and may take some time to master, but a five-week workshop, with fellow participants to learn with, will give you the space to start your sense-making journey.
Watch the 10 minute introduction to learn more:
Personal Knowledge Management
Network learning, or personal knowledge management (PKM), is an individual, disciplined process by which we make sense of information, observations and ideas. In the past, self-directed learning may have involved keeping a journal, writing letters or having conversations. These are still valid, but with digital media we can add context by categorizing, commenting on, or even remixing information. We can also store information for easy retrieval as we need it.
PKM, at the individual level, includes:
- Personal directed learning – how individuals can use social media for their own (self-directed) personal or professional learning; and
- Accidental and serendipitous learning – how individuals, by using social media, can learn without consciously realizing it (e.g., incidental or random learning).
At its core, PKM is a way to deal with an ever-increasing amount of digital information. It requires an open attitude toward learning and finding new things. Each worker needs to develop individualized processes of filing, classifying and annotating information for later retrieval.
Standard document management methods have been shown to fail over the years, as most workers do not personally adopt them. Developing good network learning skills, on the other hand, can aid in observing, thinking and using information and knowledge. Learning in networks also prepares the mind to be open to new ideas and can result in “enhanced serendipity.” As Louis Pasteur said, chance favours the prepared mind [Steven Berlin Johnson says that chance favours the connected mind].
One way to look at network learning is as a continuous process of seeking, sensing and sharing.
- Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network of colleagues is helpful in this regard—it not only allows us to “pull” information, but also have it “pushed” to us by trusted sources.
- Sensing is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we have learned. Often it requires experimentation, as we learn best by doing.
- Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas and experiences with our networks and collaborating with our colleagues.
Read complete article – Network Learning: Working Smarter
Here are four main processes that can be used in developing critical thinking skills using web tools (click image to enlarge).
Using this Seek-Sense-Share framework you should start by picking one or more web platforms on which to practise critical thinking.
|PKM||Critical Thinking Process||Web Tools & Strategies|
|Use an aggregator (feed reader) to keep track of online conversations. Follow interesting people on Twitter. Use Social Bookmarks (set them free). Find a Twitter App to suit your needs. Create online (reusable) mind maps, graphics and text files of your thoughts.
With more information in online databases, use Search, instead of file folders. Set up automated searches. Review your bookmarks, Twitter favourites, etc.
|2)||SENSE||Challenge & Evaluate
Form Tentative Opinions
|Tweet your thoughts, not just those of others. Write a reasoned response to an article/post that inspires/provokes you. Write an original Blog post. Present your images/mindmaps with explanations. Write book/video reviews.
Aggregate your learning from various sources and post a regular “what I learned” article – text, podcast, video, image
|3)||SHARE||Participate||Connect via Twitter. Share social bookmarks through groups & networks. Join Social Networks. Join in Tweet Chats. Comment on or about other blogs.
Continue and extend conversations from news sources, other tweets or blog posts.
In my opinion, the core of PKM is 2) sensing, though 1) active observation is necessary to feed sense-making processes and 3) sharing with others creates better feedback loops. The diversity of both what one seeks and who one shares with have a significant impact on the quality of sense-making processes.
Finding the Time for PKM
A survey of small and medium sized businesses (SMB) showed workers spend about half their day on unproductive tasks:
Knowledge Workers are among the largest staff component in a typical SMB.
SMB Knowledge Workers spend an estimated 36 percent of their time trying to:
- Contact customers, partners or colleagues
- Find information
- Schedule a meeting
Approximately 14 percent of SMB Knowledge Workers’ time is spent:
- Duplicating information (e.g. forwarding e-mails or phone calls to confirm if fax/e-mail/text message was received
- Managing unwanted communications (e.g. spam e-mails or unsolicited time-wasting phone calls)
These activities are important but obviously they take too much time. Finding the right information faster can be addressed individually through frameworks like networked learning (PKM). Finding information, plus the remaining four activities can be made more effective and efficient through social networks. For example, the largest stated benefit of organizations using social media is increasing speed of access to knowledge. Simple tools like Doodle can make scheduling a breeze. Social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn let you find the right people faster.
Therefore, the ROI for social media in business is pretty obvious: reducing wasted time.
In addition, there is a huge performance benefit. Not only is there less wasted time but that time can go into learning.
Since ~90% of our learning is not supported by formal instruction, the opportunities for using social media at work are evident – more time for personal learning as well as a medium for networked learning.
The term personal knowledge management (PKM) isn’t about management in a business sense but rather how we can manage to make sense of information and experience in our electronic surround.
Personal – according to one’s abilities, interests & motivation (not directed by external forces).
Knowledge – connecting information to experience (know what, know who, know how).
Management – getting things done.
PKM is an individually created process. Tim Kastelle has discussed how important it is to Filter, in the process of Aggregate-Filter-Connect. I use Seek-Sense-Share to describe PKM.
The critical part of PKM is in personalizing information and experience, or to use a business term, adding value. Ross Dawson shows five ways to add value to information (my examples/descriptions follow):
- Filtering (separating signal from noise, based on some criteria)
- Validation (ensuring that information is reliable, current or supported by research)
- Synthesis (describing patterns, trends or flows in large amounts of information)
- Presentation (making information understandable through visualization or logical presentation)
- Customization (describing information in context)
Terms such as Filter or Sense don’t adequately describe the sense-making process in PKM. Looking at it from an outside perspective though, as Ross Dawson has done, gives another way to describe some of what is happening in our minds. We are adding value (and context) to information so that we can later retrieve it and perhaps use it. Whatever we make transparent is value-added information for others, especially if we do it consciously and well.
The image below shows an expanded description of sense-making in the context of PKM.
A basic tool I’ve described for PKM is social bookmarking to file information. It’s simple but doesn’t add a lot of value, just a few text comments. A tweet is also simple and cannot add much value with a 140 character limit. A blog post can be much more informative especially if one takes time to research, link and compose. A collaborative document that aggregates information and shows it from a different perspective could also be valuable. Developing a slide presentation with carefully selected graphics could be seen as higher value information. More difficult to produce and perhaps adding more value to basic information, could be a narration with the slideshow. I have noticed that the process of developing higher-value information helps to sharpen one’s own thinking.
Let me point out that people with better PKM skills, an ability to create higher value information, and a willingness to share it, will become more valued members (nodes) in their professional networks.
Using our Knowledge
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” Margaret J. Wheatley.
All the information and knowledge in the world will not help us unless we take time to reflect upon what we have learned and also do something with it. When I discuss personal knowledge management I emphasize reflection through doing. In my case, this happens most often on my blog. Blogs, and other online self-publishing tools, are powerful tools for reflection.
- Blogs act as the glue between our interactions with others, whether they be projects, meetings or conferences
- Blogs are ways of mapping our personal learning journey
- Every blog is unique and, over time, gives a whole-person view
- Blogs encourage dialogue and help us relate to a wider audience and be more professional
- Blogs provide peer feedback
- Blogs can also be emotional and playful, to show and share our humanity
Reflecting by writing is a start, but then we need to integrate new ways of thinking and doing into our lives. This is the tough part, of course. It’s difficult to change old habits, but I think that by posting our vision on our blogs we raise the stakes. We are telling the world what we stand for. We are setting higher expectations. And this is a good beginning: reflection, followed by making our thoughts explicit and public. But we’re often too busy to reflect. The discipline of writing is one way to begin our journey to wisdom. Then we need to act on our words.