curiosity yields insight

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” —Dorothy Parker

The core habit to successfully navigate the network era is curiosity. Curiosity about ideas improves creativity. Curiosity about people improves empathy, by understanding others. We cannot be empathetic for others unless we are first curious about them. We cannot be creative unless we are first curious to learn new ideas.

Curiosity about online sensemaking led me to Lilia Efimova’s research on personal knowledge management in 2004. From this I developed the personal knowledge mastery (PKM) framework driven by my situation of working remotely. Remote as in finding work, finding partners, and doing the work. Living in Atlantic Canada I was geographically removed from any economic centre. Therefore I made my focus global. Distance on the internet was not an issue. All I lacked were connections, and PKM became my way of making these.

This was back when Google was doing no evil and Facebook was in its infancy. No tool dominated so there was a lot of work on tool selection and I had several early projects for selecting learning management systems. But my real interest was, and remains, helping people understand our digital networked world. Today, the surveillance economy is our digital surround and we live in a liquid world. PKM has become a discipline to counter our algorithmic overlords.

The PKM workshop is based on sixteen years of practiced curiosity. It’s a work in progress. Each workshop is slightly different from the last. It’s in a state of perpetual beta and it’s not your usual content-based course.

The workshop is like a buffet table. There are many things to try out. It’s based on six themes, each with three activities. The aim is to find a selection of practices that will work for each person. No two practices are identical. Conducted over nine weeks, the workshop puts together an international cohort of participants, usually ranging from 10 to 20 people. It’s meant to be social so that participants can share their stories.

For less than the cost of the average university course, professionals get the opportunity to become knowledge catalysts, in their organizations or in their broader communities and networks. In addition, participants can come back and take the workshop again. Some people have done this three times to fully incorporate PKM into their professional practice. We continue our professional conversations in the perpetual beta coffee club.

For example, the PKM framework has proven useful for leadership development in an international context at Domino’s Pizza and Carlsberg Breweries. It is currently being developed to improve collaboration practices at a global bank. Now that more of us work remotely and use networked tools for our work, PKM is becoming an essential practice. Online workshops are conducted several times over the year.

Curiosity yields insight.

“Insight cannot be taken back. You cannot return to the moment you were in before.” —Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall)


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