Ross Dawson says that people who have “learnt how to learn” will be better prepared for jobs of the future. “We’re finding people who have learnt how to learn know how to engage with a community and tap into others for support.” This is what personal knowledge management is all about. It starts by seeking people and knowledge sources and the Seek-Sense-Share cycle finishes by sharing with communities and social networks. My recent workshops, both online and in person, indicate a need for PKM skills in all types of organizations and for people at all levels, from freelancers, researchers, managers, executives and more. The benefits are not just for individuals, preparing for their next job, but the organization gains from employees who take control of their learning and freely share their knowledge. PKM makes for more resilient individuals and companies.
Much of PKM is about finding balance. In seeking knowledge sources, we have to balance aggregation, or getting as much information as possibile, with filtering, or ensuring that we have more signal than noise. Our networks need to be diverse and varied in order to be exposed to new ideas, but we cannot keep track of everything, so we have to be judicious with our time. We need to constantly lump things together, such as with a feed reader, while filtering out the good stuff so we can find it again, such as with social bookmarks. It’s like breathing information in and out, while making sense of only a small portion at a time, sometimes built by many grains before trying to express our knowledge in order to make sense of it.
These processes are not taught in schools or training programes. There is no right answer in PKM. There are only processes that work. The test of PKM is whether it works for you. My experience is that a person’s PKM changes over time, and the most important aspect is being aware of how we seek sources of information, make sense of our own knowledge, and then share it at work, in communities or through networks.
As Helen Blunden has noted about her PKM, it’s about continuous learning.
It’s opened up a whole new world and it’s just made me eager to know more. It’s also made me realise that our learning will never stop – and we should get comfortable with that idea. (I believe the creativity is now coming from the “Seek” part of the model because information is not one-sided anymore; you get a variety of opinions, perspectives and angles and from a wider expanded network of people from all walks of life – different industries, different skillsets – my curiosity in life also helps me out here).
PKM practices can help make sense of the current environment, whether it be your profession, your job, or your areas of interest. A resilient learning network, that can develop from practising PKM, creates a more resilient framework from which to make decisions about the future. The more you give to your networks, the more you will receive. PKM provides a way to do this in a more structured, but personal, manner. The result is enhanced serendipity, always an advantage in a changing world.