the discerning mind

“I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.” —J.K. Rowling (attrib.)

In the PKM framework of Seek > Sense > Share, the latter may seem easy but it does not always equate to helping others make sense. Some people are good at recognizing all the contextual signals in the workplace, making implicit connections, and then identifying something that might be useful to share. It usually takes time and practice to be a discerning sharer of knowledge. Sometimes an idea is not ready to share. Sometimes it helps to share a ‘half-baked idea’. It depends. PKM requires a discerning mind.

Discernment, like the rest of the PKM discipline, requires mindfulness. Overshare and you create extraneous noise. An important aspect of sharing is knowing when, with whom, and how to share. Sharing with intent is curation, while PKM can be viewed as pre-curation. It takes discernment to know when and how to share.

A shotgun approach to knowledge sharing does not work. Showing discernment in knowledge sharing helps to build trust. Becoming a trusted node in your communities and networks, with a good signal to noise ratio, ensures that your voice will be heard. Working out loud without being mindful of the needs of others is not working, it’s just being loud.

The value of PKM is an emergent property of all its activities. Merely tagging an article does not create knowledge. The process of seeking out information sources, internally making sense of them, and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge are interlinked activities from which knowledge, often slowly, emerges. Unless each person has effective sense-making and discernment processes, working out loud will be nothing more than noise amplification.

All professionals should regularly examine their knowledge-seeking, sense-making, and sharing practices to see what they can improve. This is the  focus of the PKM Workshop.

Learn how to become a knowledge catalyst in your field



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