PKM in action. Part 2

In PKM in Action Part 1 I gave a few examples of how people practice personal knowledge mastery. A good way of looking at PKM is as a method to improve serendipity, or fortuitous chance encounters. Anne Adrian shared her journey of going online to seek, make sense, and to share knowledge.

“Yet, the most important development of being online and placing myself in unlikely circles is where I have gained the most value … Hearing diversity in thought can give clarity. Listening and conversing with people who are not like me and who think differently than I and who have many different experiences helps me grow in understanding … Putting myself into places (online and physical places) where serendipitous discoveries can happen is not efficient, and of course, cannot be planned. Serendipity helped me discover people, concepts, and ideas that I would have never known before. Relationships–online, physical, mixed, new and old–and time and space are not easily planned. Serendipity does not map to set goals or plans. Instead serendipity has surprised me with energy, thoughts, knowledge, ideas, concepts, realizations, experiences, and relationships.”

Two of my regular practices are simple but add value over time — my book reviews and my Friday’s Finds. The former are my impressions of books that I have found interesting, useful, or inspiring. I only write positive reviews, so many of the books I have read do not get a review. Friday’s Finds are my bi-weekly summaries of interesting things I have found online and now comprise more than a decade of searchable resources on a wide variety of subjects. Both book reviews and resource summaries are something anyone can do. PKM practices do not have to be difficult.

Some people prefer more set-step methods. Two PKM methods I came across are the Fitness Circuit and Double-loop Learning to create micro-articles. Both of these methods could be adopted in the professional workplace.

Integrating PKM with team learning and knowledge management starts to connect personal learning with collaborative work. A very low-tech approach comes from the hospitality industry.

“Each day, one staff member got to share in about 5-10 minutes a topic of interest just before roll-call which happens at the start of a new shift. The staff get to pick the topic and the day they would like to do the sharing. The topic could be on anything of interest or an incident they considered useful for others to learn from such as how to check-in baggage, how to deal with “weird” guests, where to buy foreign magazines, what Deepavali which is a Hindu festival coming up in October is all about, and so on – in short, topics that would help them deal with their guests better.” —Green Chameleon


The best example of PKM for executives is how Nokia’s Chairman, Risto Siilasmaa, came to understand machine learning (ML) because everyone was talking about it but nobody could concisely explain ML in the context of the company’s business. Siilasmaa therefore took some courses, attended lectures, and learned online. In the end he developed a one-hour presentation for the company’s employees that has also been shown far beyond Nokia. The active practice of PKM results in helping make the network smarter.

PKM can be integrated into our daily work. In describing how Apple designs its products, Jony Ive likened it to a balancing act. Doing creative work involves the constant,  ” … conflict between curiosity and the resolve and focus that is necessary to solve problems.” Creative work is not just feeding our curiosity, but also learning in communities of practice, and finally collaborating closely to solve problems. This balancing act creates tension and shows how an attitude of perpetual beta — the ability to hold conflicting ideas in your mind and let go of them as needed — is essential for complex, creative work.

“Honestly, I can’t think of two ways of working, two different ways of being, that are more polar. On one hand to be constantly questioning, loving surprises, consumed with curiosity and yet on the other hand having to be utterly driven and completely focused to solve apparently insurmountable problems, even if those solutions are without precedent or reference.”

PKM is a solid framework on which you can build your own sensemaking vessel.

Next: PKM in action. Part 3


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