Activate your knowledge

PKM is much more than processing information. It’s about ideas, conversations and especially relationships. Most of all, PKM is a framework to actually do knowledge work. It is a framework that helps move from an awareness of knowledge to activation of its use in the context of getting work done.

My earliest inspiration on the power of personal knowledge management came from Lilia Efimova and her research on blogging as knowledge work. Lilia’s knowledge framework, as explained in her doctoral dissertation: Passion at Work, shows that knowledge work is done within a context and that awareness of context can be developed through ideas, conversations and relations.

PKM EfimovaActivation of knowledge happens in the context of tasks and so the cycle continues.

The top sector represents the domain of developing ideas, which requires the filtering of vast amounts of information, making sense of it, and connecting different bits and pieces to come up with new ideas.
In this process physical and digital artefacts play an important role (Halverson, 2004; Kidd, 1994; Sellen & Harper, 2001), so knowledge workers are faced with a need for personal information management (Landsdale, 1988) to organise their paper and digital archives, e-mails and bookmark collections.
– The sector of conversations reflects the social nature of knowledge work (Brown & Duguid, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991) and incorporates the spectrum from passively followed conversations to collaboration with others focused on performing specific tasks. Conversations contribute to both developing ideas and relations with others.
– The lower sector represents the domain of relations, since effective knowledge development is enabled by trust and shared understanding between the people involved (Cross, Parker, Prusak & Borgatti, 2001). For an individual, this means a need to establish and maintain a personal network (Nardi et al., 2002), to keep track of contacts (Whittaker, Jones & Terveen, 2002), or to make choices about which communities to join and which to ignore. [Passion at Work, page 11]

My interpretation of this over the years resulted in the – Seek (filter) Sense (discern) Share – framework, showing PKM as a process of moving ideas and conversations through relationships of people in networks, communities (CoP), and work teams.

PKM at workPKM is completely contextual. That’s why it’s so personal. PKM is rather useless if it is separate from work. PKM is a way to integrate learning and work. PKM is pretty well the antithesis of formal education and training. Knowledge only emerges through the work, it is not predetermined. With PKM, there is no curriculum. Work is learning and learning is the work. This is relatively simple to understand but often difficult to put into practice. I run workshops on PKM but the most important part is putting ideas into practice. We have found through experience that it usually takes at least a month of practice, with reflection and feedback, to become proficient at PKM.

2 Responses to “Activate your knowledge”

  1. Ara Ohanian

    Harold, I very much like your concept of the PKM. You say it’s useless if separated from work – surely it goes beyond that – surely everyone’s PKM is integral to their lives?

    • Harold

      Yes, of course. I meant PKM’s role in the workplace. My working definition of PKM is: a set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world & work more effectively. Making sense of the world is the broader scope.


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