network era km

I developed the network learning model from various sources over a decade as a way to describe the need to connect outside our workplaces in order to stay current in our professions and to be open to new and innovative ideas. The triple operating system is an organizational perspective on this relationship. In the network era, we need to understand the three network types that enable knowledge to flow: Connectivity Networks, Alignment Networks, and Productivity Networks. Organizations need to support the connections between these three network types, by Weaving, Facilitating, and Coordinating: both inside and outside the firewall. This is network-centric work & learning.


There is a lot of knowledge in an organization, some of it easy to codify, but most of it difficult to do so. This is why three related knowledge management (KM) processes are required. Explicit knowledge is easier to codify and more suitable for enterprise-wide initiatives, while implicit knowledge requires personal interpretation and engagement to make sense of it. The organization can help this knowledge to flow.


Personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is about individual sense-making, but within a social and networked surround. It is a self-directed way to continue to develop our expertise, especially developing loose relationships in our social networks and stronger ones in communities of practice. The organization needs to support, not direct, these connections.

Group KM is based on working out loud, so that everyone on a team or in a department, knows what is going on and why. Decisions, and why they were made, are shared. New processes are co-developed to create emergent practices. This new method of work has to be supported by management, adhering to the principle of network management.

With PKM and Group KM in place, the organization can concentrate on curating the outputs of knowledge work. It provides the systems of record that can be searched and queried so that mistakes and exceptions are not repeated. In the network era organization, knowledge has to flow from implicit to explicit, understanding that its transfer remains messy and inexact. The flexibility remains at the individual human level and in the trusted relationships built over time: not with the KM system.

KM is just an aid to sense-making. People make their own sense in complex ways. This model can help support better knowledge flow in the network era organization if people are engaged on their own terms. It requires PKM as a base, with an emphasis on ‘personal’, and then space at work for Group KM. With these in place, Organizational KM becomes the easiest part.

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