In a past post I elaborated on social networks like Twitter as being a Help engine; an alternative to a search engine in some cases in finding answers and making decisions.
I also paralleled this concept to the aims of KM, productivity, performance, sense-making, decision-making, etc:
“I think it’s getting us closer to the KM productivity (sense-making) aim that knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer has always aspired to, which is:
- finding the right information at the right time
- re-frame that information to be usable in your context and situation
- by connecting you to a social network of people you trust who will be willing to help out in a reciprocal relationship
(which also helps out in the re-contextualising process as you share a common wavelength or level understanding with people in your network)
- learning organisation, information re-use, and corporate memory”
And one thing I missed out is “adapting”.
This is how it goes:
I’m after some information and people to help me out on an issue or some research
I perhaps search my network (strong and weak ties), or I may search the entire network (potential ties)
If no go, I then post a question to my network
A response may point me to someone or a piece of work, or the response may be from the person I need to talk to
If I have a strong tie, this is good, as we already know about each other and share some context
Through conversation in real-time or via the online network/blog we are able to probe, clarify, re-frame the information that is usable for my context. The conversation and perhaps related blog entries may reveal lots more peripheral information than what’s included in a report. The blog entries will have the work in progress, thinking out loud, workings out of the report, that may include, approaches, styles, and bits and pieces that trigger thoughts for my situation.
From this interaction we have information/knowledge transfer.
When I act upon this information we have knowledge creation.
The results of this interaction remains for the process to repeat itself.
In this way the same content is able to be mutated or re-contextualised, on a perpetual basis.
We are not precisely re-using a piece of information, instead we are re-blending existing knowledge by connecting and conversing. It’s not about re-inventing the wheel, it’s about making a new wheel using some of the concepts of the other wheel.
Rather than “best practices”:
- storing solutions
- wiped of context in order to be applicable to many situations
- getting people motivated to do this after the fact
- hoping it’s worthwhile in people one day seeking this information
- hoping it doesn’t expire
- less adaptable and less chance of innovation as the best way is already prescribed
- not really a method to elicit and create new knowledge
We instead turn to our “network”:
- timely information
- trust the messenger as you have a history
- willingness to help as you have a reciprocated relationship
- peripheral information (not apparent or shared in a report)
- tapping into tacit knowledge to understand what’s behind the approach or how it comes together
- adapt to our situation
- creating new knowledge
- interactions that blend into new knowledge may lead to innovation
- build a relationship/contact for ambient awareness and future help
- each interaction makes your network richer and feeds the core network
What does all this mean?
It means I’m not lost, it means I have a framework in which to makes sense of my situation.
It means thoughts and concepts have a chance to emerge, it’s means being adaptable.
This type of knowledge flow and creation is more close to the aims of KM rather than a storage approach.
My approach to social productivity on the web needs to also happen in the same way in the workplace.
Enterprise federated search is a good step to search across silos, and personalised/customised pages is a good way to create your own dashboard, but it’s not enough…
When I research material for a blog post, most of the time I know where to look as I recall information passing my radar. I have ambient awareness of what’s happening…that piece of information when I saw it meant nothing, but now it has value as I have a need for it.
I can search my Google Reader, browse my delicious/slideshare bookmarks, check out my previous blog/tumblr posts and perhaps ask my Twitter network for help.
This is my personal information/knowledge management (PKM) environment and this personal and social productivity orientation helps me work more efficiently and effectively.
This online participation model is not enterprise 2.0, it’s social computing, but it may one day be the catalyst for enterprise 2.0.
We can never have complete KM, instead we have PKM nodes that are connected in a network.
I came across Nick Milton’s blog the other day, and one of his posts that speaks a lot of truth, says something I don’t agree with:
“So for me, PKM is a sign of failure of corporate KM. If you get corporate KM correct, you don’t need personal knowledge management, as all knowledge management will be collective, giving the individual access to far far more than their personal store.”
To say you no longer need PKM is to say you never need to create new knowledge or learn…it’s like saying you have traveled every path, and moved every move possible to encounter anything new.
The issue is that what’s happen in the network (PKM nodes) is not feeding back into the procedures. The PKM is the spring, KM the bottle…without spring you have nothing.
“It’s easier to reorganise your personal information habits, than it is to change the culture of a company. It’s easier to be personal, than it is to work in community. But for me, working KM as a personal issue just does not deliver the value. It may give the individual more efficient access to information and documents, but it does not give access to better knowledge.”
This above paragraph is true if you treat PKM as nodes on their own, but if you connect these nodes into an open network, then you don’t just have access to people and then knowledge, in your interactions you are creating new knowledge. This is doing KM bottom-up, empowering people to do KM without even realising it.
I’d also add that you don’t change the culture of the company, you create conditions to make a difference in an individuals experience. You give them an environment where they can more easily sensemake, and eventually this node connected environment will bring about a culture change without realising it…we hope…but it has to be a naturalistic approach.
“Now I know that many people develop PKM habits out of frustration. The information they need is not readily available through the company, or through the community, so they build their own stores. But as soon as the content of those personal knowledge stores starts to drift away from community knowledge, then all you are doing is introducing information and knowledge silos at the level of the individual.”
Again this is a true observation, but the problem is not PKM, the problem is not being connected.
At work we use a blog for our support team to post about tips, tricks, error solutions we encounter. I post in this blog for memory management (yes on many occasions, I have encountered the same problem 3 months later and forgot what to do, and consulted the blog…booyah.), and for others to also benefit. This is a reciprocated relationship, so we all gain from each other. If we don’t know answers we ask in the forums.
My next goal is to refine the process, by perhaps having a few people mine the blog and forum for a solutions wiki. The blog and forum are as it happens, and the wiki can contain the cream the floats to the top. The wiki will bring things together on topic pages.
Anyway, what we are doing here is leveraging on each others PKM, and we have created conditions for people to do some of the PKM in an open and shared place. Not only that but as a result we have interactions eg. comments, etc… that make it even more valuable.
We needn’t go on, but this ecoysystem has not only sensemaking benefits for the individual, but has self regulation and recognition (incentive) built in.
In all it’s not that I don’t agree with all of Nick Milton’s post, it’s more that the solution is a bottom-up connected network, rather than PKM not existing at all.
Nick adds a good comment:
“There’s a great methodology that Shell Drilling use, called Drilling the Limit, where Drilling teams seek out all existing knowledge of drilling a well in a particular basin, and challenge themselves to step out beyond the performance benchmark. This is a very powerful process, all the more powerful by being worked collectively as a team, and being based on a full knowledge of what’s been done in the past. That way the tensions are resolved.”
All that “existing knowledge” came from recognised PKM, ie. actioning PKM. This is why social computing is not just about bottom-up, there is also a facilitating factor of taking the good stuff and feeding it back into processes and procedures.
So yes, it’s essential to look at past methods, but it’s also essential to ask people for timely information, where you can re-frame the context.
And what if you are drilling a new basin, then a PKM network enables you to adapt to uncertainty and new situations. You ask people before taking on the exercise. You then use forums and blogs during the exercise to capture and mull over as it happens, and then perhaps if this will be a repeatable endeavor a good practice is drawn up.
“Personal KM explores how expertise and effectiveness scale up to organizational value with a focus on the capabilities and contributions of each and every knowledge worker. PKM starts with individual priorities and processes that lead to self-organization in the workplace with values, skills and tools to build stronger teams and networks from the ground up.”
“Successful companies know they have to evolve. Executives consider knowledge worker productivity to be a priority for bottom-line results. Knowledge workers need to make informed decisions, but then they need to translate decisions into successful actions.”
Here’s some Twitter conversation on PKM networks or click here:
An example of a help network
I’m finishing off by coming back to the start of this post about a help network and making sense of things by accessing people in your network.
This simple Facebook status update is just a natural use of the system, the person asking the question (Chris Saad), does not consciously think he is doing KM, it’s just embedded into being a participant…something I pondered at the end of this post.
This example would be even more poignant if the Chris was clarifying and contextualising by having a comments conversation, and something else it doesn’t reveal is that personally this conversation is of interest to me as I will soon need to draw on this information (I’m getting the benefit for free).
Anyway, this simple open conversation with people you trust in your network is on par with the aims of KM suggested in the beginning of this post.
SOURCE - Click image for larger size
[ADDED 31/05/09: Sense-making with PKM, see my comment…
“Defintely agree. PKM is like sensemaking and everyone does it. But now we can do it in the open, and not only that but we can do it in a connected and networked way.
aggregated PKM is not the same as social PKM.
This section of Boyd’s law fits perfectly here:
‘On a work basis, businesses today want it (or think they want it) both ways. They want their employees to be personally productive, making the classic logical error that if everyone is highly productive personally then the company will be. Nope’”]