Please tell me about your PKM

I had the pleasure of a visit from Jon Husband this week, only the second time that we’ve been together. Jon and his wirearchy framework have been an integral part of my views on the network era workplace since 2004. I even have a separate category for wirearchy on this website.

During one of our conversations at a local café, Jon suggested that in wirearchies,  personal knowledge management (PKM) could become the new resumé. One problem with a résumé is that it only looks backwards, on past achievements. Even behavioural interviews look at how we have dealt with past problems. What about how we prepare for new problems?

I think that asking, “What can you do for the organization today?”, would be a better way to start an interview. Considering that in complex, networked environments, where work is learning and learning is the work, would it not be better to find out how people are learning? Imagine an interview beginning with, “Good day, Mister Jones, please sit down and tell us about your PKM.” Other questions could follow:

  • How do you keep your learning up to date?
  • With whom do you learn?
  • How do you capture your learning?
  • How do you narrate your work? Please show us an example …
  • How do you stay current in your field?
  • How diverse is your network? Could you give us some examples?
  • How would you begin to look at the following problem, which is out of your normal scope of work …

Describing how we stay actively engaged in our learning might be a better indicator of future performance, in a world where many answers do not lie in the past, but in how we manage to make connections with the present. To remain relevant, workers need to re-skill and provide services for today’s and tomorrow’s problems, not yesterday’s. We need to think more like artists and look at creating new ways of working, not polishing our previous successes. Showing how we learn, or manage our knowledge personally, keeps us focused on the present. It’s time for HR to start asking about our PKM, and understand its value.

6 Responses to “Please tell me about your PKM”

  1. jay cross

    Agreed. This would be so much more valuable than a resume. What I do instead of what I did.

    Resumes are truly weird documents. They primarily demonstrate the individual’s ability to write fiction.

    I have to admit I’m still searching for a better label for this than PKM or Learning Portfolio but the term I want is evading me.

  2. Ewen Le Borgne

    Nice one!

    I’m sure there must be some companies today starting interviews almost like this, though they must be very very few.

    This blog post resonates with me because, beyond hiring people, I think companies could really look at the personal effectiveness of their employees. A while back I had that idea and started jotting down some possible questions to do such a survey ( I thought my employer of the time – a very innovative almost network-like company – would be game. But I was then told that ‘we have more important things to do and use our resources for than a personal effectiveness survey’. Duh…

    So much for a wasted opportunity to do real good.

    Anyhow, as we keep pushing for this sort of messages, and as companies – by themselves or by force – realise that they need to review their business reflexes inherited from the Tayloristic era, I am sure more and more people will come to realise the value of personal learning and KM for the greater good. So perhaps the time for these meaningful interviews is not that far off any longer…


  3. Tammy Tiscornia

    Perhaps instead of a resume, we should submit a HIWAV document (how I would add value). But the job posting would need to change from a task list to problem statements or objectives, so you could respond accordingly.

  4. Mark Britz

    Interesting in that when we vote for candidates we should be looking upon the past record and actions vs. what they say and promise. Although one can’t predict the future, the past tends to be prologue…hence the resume. References should be a better window into performance but alas those are becoming meaningless and HR depts typically curtail anything of value. I think the interview is still a solid method (when done well). I for one do ask: “How do you stay current?” and am disappointed when told it is only through conferences, books and periodicals. Transparent PKM is key then to really seeing not only the product (a portfolio can do that) of ones work but more importantly the process.

    • Harold Jarche

      Agree that references are very important. How they do on the interview is mostly irrelevant, in my experience. The SEMCO method works very well: let those short-listed come to work for a few weeks and then let co-workers decide if they should stay.

  5. MacGregor Grant

    Great post Harold.
    Interviews and resume tactics remain formal and outdated in a lot of instances. Like PKM, interviews and resumes should be constantly evolving as well.
    Industries such as ours (software development) are rapidly changing and evolving so it’s crucial that we look for and evaluate potential employees on the how they stay current and ahead of the curve.


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