Mastering a discipline for transformation

A model of curation for the digital era that is being used in health and care is Harold Jarche’s ‘Personal Knowledge Mastery’ (PKM). This is about individuals making the best use of their networks and other sources of knowledge so that they can keep up to date with the most effective thinking in their area and practice new ways of doing things. Leaders who take responsibility for their own effectiveness through PKM create leverage and value for their organisations. The underpinning framework for curation within PKM is ‘seek, sense, share’. ‘Seeking’ is about finding things out and keeping up to date; pulling’ information, but also having it ‘pushed’ to us by trusted sources. ‘Sensing’ is about making sense and meaning of information, reflecting and putting into practice what we have learned and plugging information into our own mental models and turning it into knowledge. ‘Sharing’ is about connecting and collaborating; sharing complex knowledge with our own work teams, testing new ideas with our own networks and increasing connections through social networks.
– UK National Health Service White Paper 2014: The new era of thinking and practice in change and transformation

There is always more to master in a discipline. One is never finished. As with all journeys, mastery begins by taking the first step. In the PKM workshops, everyone is at a different stage of mastery. We are all fellow seekers, including those of us who have been at it for many years. Perhaps this is why PKM does not fit easily into a curriculum, as it transcends subjects and skills. PKM is composed of many skills, but not a definitive set. My PKM is not your PKM.

I have avoided aligning PKM with any technology, though I have been asked several times. The same goes for certification. How can I certify you in a discipline? It is your journey to take. However, your peers can validate your level of mastery. If you participate in diverse knowledge networks and are respected by others for the knowledge you contribute, there will be many indicators as to your mastery. Your work will be shared. You will be consulted. You will have many connections. No single variable or index will determine your mastery. As you develop mastery, you will understand that subtle signals are more important than badges or certificates.

The personal knowledge mastery workshops allow us to take some steps together. There are opportunities to examine our networks, consider critical thinking, and see how we can make better knowledge connections. Over a period of six weeks there is time to practice. For some it may be too much and for others it may be not enough. After several hundred participants in workshops over the past three years, we know we will never have a perfect structure. But pretty well everyone has learned something, even those with a lot of experience.

The PKM workshops are in a state of perpetual Beta. Each successive one is built upon what has been learned in previous workshops. As the curator, I focus on providing just enough information to get things started. Adding too much content only serves to confuse. I continuously prune excess information, but I stay ready to offer additional information or connections as participants journey through the program. The workshops are organized around a cohort of participants, so there are others along the same journey. Quite often friendships and connections are made. Participants come from around the world.

Set aside 40 days and spend a few hours each week to develop or improve your discipline of sense-making. The structure is light enough so that you are not overloaded, but there is enough for even the highly motivated to dive in. The program of six themes and 18 activities means that you can do it while working or on vacation, and not feel pressured. After 40 days, there is a 14 day reflection period to help put it in perspective.

PKM in 40 Days [now 60 days] is not your ordinary online workshop. But then, why should it be? Prepare for the new world of work by learning out loud. Learning is not something to get, it has to be done, and often it is best done with others. Come experience something different.

Sign up for the next public online PKM workshop or contact me to develop a custom on-site program for your organization.PKM40Day

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