PKM at seventeen

Seventeen years ago I was introduced to PKM by Lilia Efimova.

To a great extent PKM is about shifting responsibility for learning and knowledge sharing from a company to individuals and this is the greatest challenge for both sides. Companies should recognise that their employees are not “human resources”, but investors who bring their expertise into a company. As any investors they want to participate in decision-making and can easily withdraw if their “return on investment” is not compelling. Creativity, learning or desire to help others cannot be controlled, so knowledge workers need to be intrinsically motivated to deliver quality results. In this case “command and control” management methods are not likely to work.

Taking responsibility for own work and learning is a challenge for knowledge workers as well. Taking these responsibilities requires attitude shift and initiative, as well as developing personal KM knowledge and skills. In a sense personal KM is very entrepreneurial, there are more rewards and more risks in taking responsibility for developing own expertise.

Since then I have learned-out-loud on this blog, described my own processes, and researched new methods and models to Seek>Sense>Share knowledge. What started as a personal discipline has evolved into a framework that has been used by hundreds of people around the world and integrated into the workflow of many organizations, the latest initiative called Working Smarter @ Citi. To date, the PKM online workshop has had participants from over 40 countries.

Yesterday I listened to a national radio phone-in show asking people how they stayed informed about the current pandemic. One person said he watched YouTube videos, without inferring that he was letting the hidden algorithm — designed to promote advertisers — decide what he saw. Another physician said that the best source of knowledge was mainstream media, without any reference to advertising money or ratings driving the messages.

I get my pandemic information from a subject matter network that has kept my knowledge ahead of the mainstream and public health officials. I knew that the coronavirus was airborne long before the WHO and CDC officially stated so in the last few weeks and we have acted accordingly for the past year. For me, PKM is how I make sense of living in a complex networked world. I believe it is a critical discipline for everyone today and should be taught in school and used in all organizations. The alternative is to live in an increasingly stupid society.

For example, Doctor Michael Mina has been promoting rapid testing for over a year. Rapid tests officially seen as effective, said the CDC this week, but I already knew that. With a good PKM practice in place, the news is often just confirmation, and usually late.

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