PKM is not a technology

My definition of personal knowledge management is quite short:

PKM: A set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world, work more effectively, and contribute to society.

PKM is not a technology, an enterprise system, a piece of software, or a platform. If anyone is selling you a PKM system, they do not understand it. Walk away before you waste your money. The best technology for enabling PKM is the Internet. People don’t need anything else, other than getting rid of barriers that impede their learning. These barriers include social media policies, firewalls, inefficient work practices, defining people by their job, and many others, too numerous to name. Usually the barriers stem from the organizational structure or from management.

PKM 2008

For me, PKM really means:

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 [not being managed].

PKM 2010

It is not PKM if there is no additional value created. In other words, PKM is not about collecting things and filing them away, no matter how fancy it looks on some software platform. PKM is creating a sense-making process that works for you, and that you regularly use. PKM is beyond the workplace, just as workers are not always at work, but are always learning.

For me, it’s using writing, particularly here on my blog, to make sense of concepts, theories, experiences, and opinions related to my professional life. Sometimes my non-professional life gets involved, and that’s just fine with me. For you, it’s probably something else, and that is the wonderful thing: there is no single PKM system for all. People practising PKM, in their own ways, add to the diversity of thinking in organizations and society. A single system would kill diverse thinking, which in turn would destroy any potential for change or innovation.

Why is PKM important?

Formal training only accounts for 5% of workers’ learning needs.

Training courses often assume a dependent learner as passive recipient. This can kill creativity and motivation.

PKM builds reflection into our learning & working, helping us adapt to change and new situations. It can also help develop critical thinking skills.

Active PKM practices help to make each person a contributing node in knowledge networks. It is the foundation for social learning, which drives social business.

Note: My next online PKM Workshop (technology-agnostic)

3 Responses to “PKM is not a technology”

  1. Steve Scott

    From the software platform builder’s perspective, we build “PKM platforms” all the time, it is an extension of ourselves, our own personal sense-making mediums. When I can’t find a platform, my thoughts invariably turn to “How can I build such a system?” Which may or may not fit into somebody else’s method?

    Some of this feels very Marshall McLuhan-esque in nature.

    Maybe I’m way off base.

  2. Jessica

    Great Post ! I never came across any post which gave such minute details about PKM. I agree with you that PKM, actually stands for Personal, Knowledge, Management. These are the foundation of social learning,and in a way helps in developing critical thinking skills.


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