7.5 PKM Principles

7.5 PKM Principles

          It’s also worth remembering that everybody already carries out PKM to some degree. Some of these activities probably work very well. The PKM techniques and tools discuss here are introduced in response to problems which individuals are facing in managing their personal knowledge resources, but it’s important not to regard them as a silver bullet. No system is perfect and expecting it to be so inevitably leads to disappointment and perhaps the perception that the system has failed.

          It is equally important, whether your organization is being smart or ill-advised about knowledge management, you need to be thinking about a strategy for becoming a more effective knowledge worker. Jim McGee (REF) has mentioned three essential elements of a personal knowledge-management strategy: create & maintain your portfolio, manage your learning, and master your toolkit. In below paragraphs we have discussed some common principles which are suggested in literature for effective PKM:

  • Be flexible: A system may not be perfect, but you may be able to make it better or adapt it to make it work better for you. Also your circumstances might change. For example you may be doing a lot of travelling for a period, and using a mobile device in a different way may help you.
  • Focus on self-organization:Organize your thoughts, gather & catalog your knowledge assets, cluster and categorize your sources, document your network, track your activities. The claim is knowledge creation starts with individual competencies. The focus is on fast and effective access to information. You need to capture & organize things this should be the key focus of your knowledge activities.
  • The individual as the key engine for knowledge work: Focus inwards, you can no longer depend on others (community, company, professional group) for your learning, security or long term future. You are required to look out for yourself, build your competencies, guard your IP, brand your IC and continually market your skills. You need to take personal responsibility for your future.
  • Building connections: We live in a very connected world and all personal knowledge management activities are likely to incorporate aspects of managing relationships with other people. Meaningful knowledge and its transfer come about through interaction. Therefore, Knowledge acquisition and learning need social connections. Getting ahead today means having a 'mother' community to test your insights, a group to share and learn distinctions, an intellectual guild to filter news and increase your awareness and a network to increase connections and gather ideas.In simple words it could be said that if your PKM activities do not involve anything to do with managing your connections, then it might be worth asking yourself if you are taking the right approach. In this regard following things are very important:
  • The communities you belong to,
  • Your reciprocity & empathy
  • The networked relationships you have along which knowledge can flow
  • Your openness to new ideas,
  • your willingness to alter your mental models and
  • your ability to really listen
  • PKM audit: Remember, the most valuable knowledge related asset any individual has, is their relationships for it is those relationships that determine knowledge flow, exposure and awareness to new ideas, potential for collaboration, social capital and trust. Personal identity comes next. Without a positive feeling of self-worth, empathy for others and a willingness to learn any individual will have a hard time with knowledge related work. An audit needs to observe and validate those unarticulated assumptions about self.

           During a PKM audit, it is key to find touch points, common interests, shared values, learning gaps and to determine their group skills and collaborative work preferences. We need to surface their assumptions, appreciate their mental models and understand their views about knowledge itself. The key deliverable from a PKM audit is an assessment of the persons’ tacit knowledge levels. Therefore, PKM can be considered as a paradox - knowledge in my world is socially constructed - it is not about organizing your thoughts, learning to use tools or developing individual competencies - it is about dialog, community and collaboration.

  • Technology: For many PKM has become wrapped up with how to use technology. This is partly because we interact more with technology as individuals, but also because the Internet and the growth of application-rich mobile devices, has given individuals access to a sophisticated set of PKM-related capabilities. Technological competencies, application suites, familiarity with equipment, diversity of formats and communication mediums are not the key to knowledge flows, they determine different way to communicate, but give no picture of personal motivation, make no or little statement about past experiences, do not attest to the individuals’  ability to deal with complex and abstract concepts, their need for learning nor do they tell us much about their interests, tacit knowledge or desires (motivators). Therefore, technology is not a silver bullet which will solve all your problems. You need to consider technology a supporting tool.  This will help not only to manage your expectations but also means taking a more holistic look at knowledge sharing in general. For example, reading, talking and filing pieces of paper may actually be your best PKM solution.
  • Maintain Your Portfolio: A knowledge worker is more intelligent than a factory worker or plant manager. The better organized and maintained your portfolio of deliverables, the better you can display your qualifications and the better you can discern the patterns of your best work. Creating and maintaining a portfolio of your knowledge work is an important step in PKM. With portfolio in hand you will have more control over your development as a knowledge worker and be able to better display your value to your organization.

          Creating and maintaining your portfolio is a question of what to keep, what to throw away, and how to organize what you keep. At a minimum, keep copies of final deliverables. You should also keep the materials that will let you reconstruct why and how you created that deliverable, including project management materials such as scope definitions, work plans, risk assessments, and the supporting materials used to identify and resolve issues encountered along the way. Organizing around projects is simple and understandable. At the level of the individual, additional structure is likely more trouble than it’s worth.

          Maintaining your portfolio will make you more effective than the average knowledge worker. An organized portfolio contains the raw materials to fuel learning. At the most rudimentary level, simply reviewing your portfolio from time to time will highlight your development and identify skills that wouldn’t otherwise be evident.

          A portfolio also makes it easier to reflect on lessons learned and identify useful generalizations grounded in your work. Techniques such as After Action Reviews or documenting case studies can further identify and summarize lessons learned and approaches worth developing.

  • Manage Your Learning:  As you gain experience and learn by reflecting on your completed work, you might shorten the interval between action and reflection. Experiment with Weblogs or other journaling techniques to discover what you are learning that you can put back into your knowledge work practice. These reflection techniques let you ask what worked, what didn’t, and what caught you by surprise. Encourage your teammates to try the same techniques and learn more by sharing your reflections and questions with them.
  •  Master Your Toolkit:Over the last 15 years, IT industry has created an array of digital tools to make knowledge work easier. There’s an equally rich array of tricks and techniques to make work more effective. Generally, people do not   invest too much time in learning to use them to full extent. They need to be more systematic in looking at knowledge-work tasks and seeking ways to apply tools more effectively .

Footnotes

http://denham.typepad.com/km/2003/12/pkm.html

http://www.newshorehamconsulting.com/writing/why-you-need-a-personal-knowledge-management-strategy/