Why PKM?

Here is a short video introduction on why personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is becoming a required skill and mindset for professionals today. We continue to see that labour has diminishing value as routine work keeps getting automated. To remain current in the network era, people must constantly improve their talents and focus on initiative and creativity. When you are only as good as your network, PKM becomes a necessity. The full transcript is available below the video.


Are things more complex now, than they were 5 or 10 years ago?

Your Work? Your Markets? Your Customers? Your Profession? Your Life?

Personal Knowledge Mastery is a framework, that I have developed over the past 10 years, to help make sense of the changes in the modern workplace and is especially for professionals who continuously welcome challenges at the cutting edge of their expertise. It is a place to start thinking about networked learning, professional development, and staying current in the digital surround of the network era.

There are many indicators that this century is a departure from the industrial era of the 20th century. For example, in the mid 1970’s, intangible assets accounted for less than one fifth of major stock markets. Today they account for over four fifths. These assets are difficult to measure, have prices that are much more volatile than tangible goods, and can be created with minimal capital, as is obvious with the rise of large web media companies.

All statistics in recent years show that knowledge work is increasing, while manufacturing work continues to decrease. Like intangible assets, knowledge work is difficult to measure and even more difficult to control. This is the world of work for many of us.

In the industrial era, work was mostly standardized and labourers required the traits of obedience, diligence and intelligence to get ahead. But more work today is customized, and workers have to deal with more exceptions, rather than just following routines. In the emerging network era, initiative, creativity, and passion differentiate talented workers, according to business strategist Gary Hamel. We are currently sitting astride these two eras, in the information era, where remains of the industrial era inform most of our structures, but the network era is really driving the next economy.

The Phoenix rising from the ashes is an excellent metaphor for the state of the modern enterprise. The limitations of hierarchies are becoming obvious as more value is found in networks outside the organization. People can learn more and connect to diverse knowledge networks outside the organizational walls. To remain relevant, organizations have to become less hierarchical and more networked.

The way we try to transmit expertise in the current training and education fields no longer works. Subject matter experts think they know how they do they their work, but with knowledge work, it is impossible to externally confirm this through observation, as we did with physical labour. Kathy Sierra’s model shows there is a large area of understanding that cannot be directly translated to instruction. But people who actively engage in professional communities of practice can immerse themselves in these networks of expertise. Over time they will develop their expertise. This type of immersive social learning is becoming essential for all professionals.

Gary Klein, in Seeing What Others Don’t, described how most organizations view performance improvement; by reducing errors. Almost all organizations today have some combination of standards, controls, documentation, and other methods to reduce uncertainty. But this is not enough.

Klein also noticed that performance improvement is driven by increasing insights, but few organizations go about this in an applied manner. I have noted that three types of insights that Klein observed through his 120 cases, can be developed through PKM – connections, coincidences and curiosity. Personal knowledge mastery can help to improve insights through increased connections, enhance the potential for coincidences, and develop a discipline of curiosity. The best professionals in the network era are those who are open to new insights, and not just focused on reducing errors.

Klein’s observations on insight, are reinforced by the work of Steven Johnson, who concluded in his study of the history of innovation and where good ideas come from, that “Chance favours the connected mind.”

Personal knowledge mastery, based on the Seek > Sense > Share framework, is one way for working people – students, employed, or freelancers – to take control of their professional development.

This framework has been used in large organizations (PDF) for leadership development, and has been helpful to individuals creating their own development path. Today, we see that labour has diminishing value as more work gets automated, especially from software. To remain current in the network era, people must constantly improve their talents. Today, it is becoming a fact that you are only as good as your network.

  • For more information on individual PKM development, see the PKM in 60 Days online workshop.
  • Workshops and coaching, onsite and online, are also available for groups and organizations:
    • e.g. PKM workshop for AITD in Sydney, Australia on 16 May 2014
  • Use #PKMastery if you want to join the conversation on other social platforms.


Why PKM Part 1

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