E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Looking at Personal Knowledge Management

While I was getting ready and prepared for the presentation I did on Personal Knowledge Management at the IBM TLE event last week I got to read some very interesting stuff on the subject of PKM and I thought I would just pick up some of those thoughts and place them over here. One reference material that I found worth while reading and commenting on because of its thought-provoking nature was Denham‘s take on Personal Knowledge Management available at the KMWiki space (One of the main collaborative tools for the KMBloggers community that we recently launched). Specially this particular fragment:

My thoughts tend to be somewhat away from the PKM mainstream, as I favor collective knowledge creation, vetting and sense-making. IMO, PKM is closely tied to personal learning and inquiry which is all about social practices.

Leverage does not come from personal thought organization or access, but from a network of weak ties, dialog and awareness in community. It is not the tools or practices you use, but the empathy you feel and the relationships you maintain, – these determine how effective you are at knowledge creation, how aware you are and what you learn.

And then this one:

My take is PKM has a rather narrow focus. It is firstly about information organization for the individual, personal effectiveness, voicing and networking. Proponents claim PKM is about taking responsibility for your learning, inquiry, learning, awareness and skills, improving knowledge related competencies and increasing your efficiency.

While I agree with him 100% on this argument I think it would also be important to put things into perspective as to what the real purpose of Personal Knowledge Management is. Its focus certainly may not be primarily “networking, community participation, tacit knowledge exchanges and inquiry“. As well “Personal voicing, thought organization and personal publication do not do justice to the social components necessary for real knowledge work” but it is certainly bringing together a good start. The way I see it is as follows: for Knowledge Management, and its multiple sub-disciplines, to be able to survive there needs to be a much more personal and committed involvement in sharing what knowledge workers know. It needs to be “managed” locally before it would be able to move into the next level: the networking and sharing with others.

One would need to organise themselves with those resources that matter to them before they would feel they would be ready to share with others their best know-how. So I have always felt that for social learning to work (where “social learning is about communities of practice, collaboration, inquiry, joint problem solving, building relationships, social capital and sharing insights”) one would need to prepare themselves for it. It is not something that would happen overnight, it takes time. It takes a substantial amount of effort to build up on trust levels and social capital skills. And that is why I have always thought that Personal Knowledge Management would be key to make it all sustainable. If not, take a look into all this hype that is going around the subject of social software. People are sharing their thoughts, their favourite photos, links, online spaces to hang out, etc. etc. not only in order to be able to manage all that content locally but also to prepare themselves to share those same resources with others coming along with a strong voice so that those interactions are as rich as you could possibly expect.

And as far as I can see it seems to be working. At least, you can now see how more and more knowledge workers are taking ownership of what they know and are willing to share it with others. That personal approach towards knowledge sharing and collaboration is what I feel would provide the common ground for later on getting involved in much more complex relationships, like social networks, social learning and the like. It needs to start somewhere, I know, and to me that somewhere would be Personal Knowledge Management. The basic background for a more robust KM strategy where nurturing relationships, knowledge sharing and collaboration with others would be the main key but the success factor in my opinion would be on how well those knowledge workers are able to manage personally what they know and what they would want to share with others. What are your thoughts? Go ahead and share them over here or over at the great ongoing discussion taking place already over at Looking at personal knowledge management.

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