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Harold Jarche

finding
perpetual

beta
REFLECTIONS

O N T H E N E T WO R K E R A
A continuing journey to understand how
individuals and organizations can manage
fundamental changes in networked society,
business, and education.

Harold Jarche > finding perpetual beta

This eBook is copy-protectionfree because I trust you to share it as you would


a physical book and I do not want to limit your right to share.
> Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, December, 2014.

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Contents
The Global Village
Figure 1 Organizing Characteristics
Figure 2 TIMN (David Ronfeldt)
Figure 3 Tetrad of a Networked Society

4
4
7
8

Introduction 10
1 THE NETWORK ERA
The Work Shift
Figure 4 20th Century Work Shift
Figure 5 The Future of Jobs in 2014
The Shrinking Middle Class

From Hierarchies to Networks


Figure 6 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy (cluetrain.com)
Human Networks
Networked Workplaces
Three Major Changes
Organizations and Learning
Figure 7 The Network Era: a creative economy
New Skills
Figure 8 We need to connect knowledge flows
New Work Tools
Figure 9 Working & learning out loud connect us
Beyond Hierarchies
Figure 10 Work in the Network Era

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13
16
16

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22
24
26
29
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32
34
35
37
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40

2 PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE MASTERY


PKM Revisited

43

Seek>Sense>Share 46
Seek 46
Figure 11 PKM Roles
49
Sense 50
Share 57

PKM Tips
PKM Getting Started

61
65

Learning is the Work

65

PKM and the Future of Work

68

References 72
Colophon 74

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The Global Village


Once again, we are changing the way we organize as a society. This has happened
twice before: when we shifted from a predominantly oral and tribal society to a
written and institutional one, and when Gutenbergs press changed us to a print
and market society. Electric media are shifting us to a digital and networked society. This emerging network form is not a mere modifier of previous forms of Tribes,
Institutions, and Markets, but a form in itself that may be able to address complex
societal issues that the previous forms cannot. We have evolved as a civilization
not through clean progressions from one organizing mode to the next but rather
each new form has built upon and changed the previous mode, from tribes to institutions to markets and now to networks.

Figure 1 Organizing Characteristics


Domain
(Cynefin)

Society
(TIMN)

Communication
Medium

Practice
(Cynefin)

Work

Chaotic

Tribal

Oral

Novel Practices

Action

Simple

+Institutions

Written

Best Practices

Coordination

Complicated

+Markets

Print

Good Practices

Collaboration

Complex

+Networks

Digital

Emergent
Practices

Cooperation

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David Ronfeldts TIMN framework [Tribes-Institutions-Markets-Networks] shows


how we have evolved as a civilization.
TIMN

has long maintained that, beyond todays common claims that

government or market is the solution, we are entering a new era in which


it will be said that the network is the solution Aging contentions that
turning to the government or the market is the way to address particular
public-policy issues will eventually give way to innovative ideas that the
network is the optimal solution.
David Ronfeldt

Markets may currently dominate, but institutions and tribes co-exist with them,
in modified forms from when institutions (e.g. the church) or tribes (pre-writing)
dominated. While many people never lose their affinity for community groups
or family (tribes), each mode brings new factors that influence previous ones.
For example, tribalism is alive and well in online social networks. It is just not the
same tribalism of several hundred years ago. Each transition also has its hazards.
For instance, while tribal societies may result in nepotism, networked societies
can lead to deception.
Following tribal societies, institutions enabled small-scale collaborative
behaviours. Collaboration is working together for a common objective.
Collaboration is usually hierarchical, requiring someone to ensure that people
stay on course. Later, markets enabled large-scale collaboration. In institutions
and markets the rules are clear and we know who we are working with (employees, members, suppliers, partners, customers, etc.). Collaboration is the optimal
behaviour in institutions and markets.

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In networks, relationships can quickly change. Someone may be our supplier


or even our boss one day and our customer the next. In networks, cooperative
behaviours are best. Cooperation is where people freely share without any requirement for direct reciprocity. Network societies and tribes have similar requirements for cooperation. What was kinship in tribes is seen as connections or
affinities in networks. Tribes revolved around small-scale cooperative behaviours.
Networks enable large-scale cooperation.
Successful individuals in a network society understand that their connections
change over time and that openly sharing makes them more valued nodes in
the long-run. In networks, cooperation is simultaneously altruistic and selfish.
Cooperation helps the whole network and indirectly returns value to its members.
Cooperation takes the long view, not the short-term profit-seeking view of markets, or the selfish view of institutions.

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Figure 2 TIMN (David Ronfeldt)

large
scale

small
scale

Market

Network

Institution

Tribal

collaborative

cooperative

competition

hierarchy

connection

kinship

According to Marshall McLuhans laws of media, every medium 1) extends a


human property; 2) obsolesces the previous medium; 3) retrieves a much older
medium that was obsolesced before; and 4) flips or reverses its properties into
the opposite effect when pushed to its limits.

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Figure 3 Tetrad of a Networked Society

REVERSE

EXTEND

into deception

civil society

network
society
RETRIEVE
cooperation

OBSOLESCE
hierarchies

The medium of a network society could then be seen to 1) extend civil society;
2) obsolesce hierarchies; 3) retrieve the cooperation of kinship; and 4) when
pushed to its limits, reverse into deception.
We are becoming the global village that McLuhan wrote about in 1962. Like a
tribal village, certain aspects of human behaviours that we have ignored for centuries are becoming important as we move into a network society. There was
little privacy in the village, as there seems to be no more privacy today. While

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we will not repeat the past, there is much we can learn from it. Our new business
models should not just celebrate what we have made obsolete, but we should
also look back to see what we can retrieve and most importantly, what reversals
we can avoid.
Avoiding societal deception in the network era requires an aggressively intelligent
citizenry and workers actively engaged in all aspects of democratic enterprises. Continuing to collaborate in hierarchies, with gatekeepers and other control
mechanisms, will not transform us into a well-functioning networked society. In
the network era, collaboration is outdated. We need to learn how to work cooperatively to deal with the complex problems facing us that cannot be addressed
through our existing tribal, institutional, and market structures.

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Introduction
This ebook contains a series of reflections on the themes presented in seeking
perpetual beta, published in April, 2014. The aim of this second ebook is to dig
deeper on the issues. This is a continuing exploration of how society, technology,
work, and education are changing. It questions the status quo of how organizations are structured in order to get work done. In addition, there is an expanded
section on personal knowledge mastery (PKM ), a foundational discipline for
working in the network era and a creative economy.
In a hyper-connected world of 3 billion people online, and an expected 50 billion
devices in the near future, the environment any organization is facing is much
more complex than it was two decades ago. But this was when most executives were learning how to do their jobs. Many are ill-equipped for the cognitive
overload they face, as traditional jobs, from typing, to customer service, to legal
research, are relentlessly automated by software. Software-enabled teams like
Amazon and Netflix are able to directly compete with industry incumbents, and
can do so with significantly fewer employees.

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Meanwhile, inside the organization, information remains in silos, unable to cross


artificial boundaries, slowing down knowledge flow. A new culture of constant
experimentation and acceptance of failure has to be embraced to deal with the
complexity of a connected world. The need to adapt to complexity is increasing,
as mobile becomes our default mode of communication. It is fast, emotional, and
not always thoughtful. Mobile communication retrieves oral traditions. The global
village is mobile, stripped of institutional control.
In a mobile world, part of every knowledge workers job is to make the complex
simple. This is a difficult task, requiring practice and, more importantly, cooperation with others. But if we do not make our knowledge objects reports, written
messages, visuals simple and easy for a mobile world, we will not be heard.
The medium is the message, and the mobile medium is sending a message. That
message reads: TL;DR [too long; didnt read].
This is just one example of how our complex world is forcing us to simplify. The
internet is enabled by small pieces, loosely joined, and we now have to communicate in small thoughts, loosely joined, in order to share the knowledge necessary
just to keep up in the network era. The challenge is to ensure that we do not
simplify our thinking. Taking time for reflection is one practice to help keep our
minds sharp. But missing from most workplaces today is any time for reflection.
It is becoming rare to meet busy professionals who have read even a few good
books lately or have had the time to reflect upon them. Fewer still have taken the
time to digest new ideas and discuss their learning with others. While there is
always a need to balance action and reflection, the latter seems to be losing out
in the modern workplace.
Much of the workday in a professional office is organized around meetings, calls,
and getting things done. This is often interrupted dozens of times each day,
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requiring a re-focus on whatever it is people were doing before the interruption.


Work is composed of many non-related discrete, time-based events, often with
one directly following the other. This mirrors our children as they rush from class
to unrelated class, focusing on nothing for more than one hour. Like school children, time for professional reflection is relegated to before or after work, but this
is often taken up with commuting, squeezing in some exercise time, and meeting
household obligations.
Time is required for sense-making as it will be the driving force in the near-future
workplace. As traditional jobs get automated, new work will focus on creativity
and dealing with complex problems. But this type of work cannot be optimized
through sheer brute force or a focus on efficiency. That was for the last century.
Todays knowledge-intensive workplace needs to support reflection. Creative
work is not routine work done faster. It is a whole different way of working, and a
critical part is letting the brain do what it does best; come up with ideas. Without
time for reflection, most of those ideas will get buried in the detritus of modern
busyness.

Harold Jarche
Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, December, 2014

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1 THE NETWORK ERA


The Work Shift
Figure 4 20th Century Work Shift

50%

far
m

ing

1900

fa
u
n

ma

labour force

in
tur

1920

The period of 1900 to 1920 saw a significant shift in the American economy, with
manufacturing replacing farming as the dominant economic activity. The resulting demographic shift saw millions of men leaving farms and moving to factories.
A similar shift has happened at other times in various parts of the world. One
hundred years later and North America and other regions are witnessing a new
shift from the industrial economy to the network era and a creative economy.

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Today, knowledge-based work is replacing manufacturing and information processing jobs. Robots and software are displacing routine work. Meanwhile, collaborative work is dominating both transactional and production work. The future
of valued, human work is in collaboratively addressing complex problems and
coming up with creative solutions.
One major difference between the work shift of the last century and the current
one is that there are no jobs waiting for displaced workers today. One hundred
years ago farm hands could move to the city and get a job. Today, the future of
work is not in the form of a job. This may be a shock to those already in the workforce but it is an accepted reality among many younger people.
Networks are beginning to replace hierarchies as the organizational model to get
work done and exchange value. Jobs are relics of hierarchies. In networks, there
is no need for standardized and replaceable jobs. Every node is unique, which
strengthens the overall network. In a network, relying on standard approaches
only erodes trust, as it does not treat each node as an individual. Knowledge
networks are built on human relationships and trust emerges over time.
Most of the knowledge required for creative work is implicit. It cannot be found
in a manual or a text book, and there is no training program to become creative.
Informal learning, often with peers, is how creative workers have learned through
the ages. Modern organizations need to take the best aspects of what the artist
studios and artisan guilds offered and find ways to replicate these. Social experiments, such as co-work spaces and crowd-funded projects, are emerging in the
creative economy.
How can an organization adapt to the network era? First, it needs to be structured as a network. The initial design of the organization influences everything else. Hierarchies will continue to act as they always have. Networks are
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multi-layered and have many valences. Most hierarchical organizational structures address only the knowledge and economic aspect of our lives. A networked
organization brings all aspects into play identity, psycho-social needs, and
ecological factors. Creating the best, and most human, environment for people to
get work done should be the primary job of a CEO .
Social networks have to be supported so that people can connect outside the organization in order to do their work better. Frameworks such as personal knowledge mastery (Part 2) ensure that everyone takes responsibility for sense-making and knowledge-sharing. By practicing PKM , everyone is encouraged to think
critically. All workers have to continuously question the contexts in which they
are working, as what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.
Active experimentation in the organization can be encouraged through constant
learning-by-doing, as established best practices are useless in dealing with complexity. Everyone needs to be connected to the goals of the organization (network), not just doing their job. Results will emerge from the entire network when
everyone is responsible in a transparent and open organization.
A networked organization is more resilient and flexible, with multiple redundant
connections, similar to how the Internet is structured. We do not know what
the future will hold but we can be quite sure it will be more complex. The ability
to learn by doing will enable organizations to actively engage their communities and societies. Freedom will not be in independence but interdependence,
which is something we can retrieve from 19th-century America. When Alexis
de Tocqueville toured the United States of America in the 1831, comparing the
new democracy with his native France, he remarked that there were many small
groups of people who were not elected or appointed but were actively engaged
in all aspects of society. He called these associations. Montreal culture hacker,

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Sebastien Paquet, has described a similar phenomenon with online social networks which enable ridiculously easy group-forming. Self-forming associations
may be the future of work.

Figure 5 The Future of Jobs in 2014

21% of US jobs at
low risk of automation
highly creative

32% of US jobs in
no mans land

47% of US jobs at high risk of automation


over next decade
source: nesta.org.uk

The Shrinking Middle Class


Automation is ending the industrial era. Examples include lawyers replaced by
software, bank staff replaced by websites, travel agents replaced by apps, and
soon drivers will be replaced by robots. Workplaces are finding themselves at a
break-point between the industrial era and the network era, with industrial era

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systems and structures unable to adapt to a world of mostly non-standardized,


non-repeatable work processes.
We are moving into a post-job economy, or at least an economy where the job is
no longer the main redistributor of wealth from capital to labour. While capital
may be changing from tangible goods to intangible services, it is still being distributed in the same old way. Founders of internet services companies make vast
sums of money, but most people working in these types of companies remain
wage slaves.
This is a complex situation. We cannot blame a single culprit for the problems
facing the people formerly known as the middle class. But we can use what we
have to make a society and economy that redistribute wealth more equitably
and create more human workplaces. What we have is our collective intelligence.
Never before have we had the means to work together collaboratively and cooperatively on a world scale, with no intermediaries. The solutions are staring us in
the face. We just have to stop looking in the rear-view mirror and see the many
possible roads ahead.
In any industry affected by the Internet (that would be most) the real power
belongs to those who own the platforms. It is Facebook in social networking;
Google in advertising; Amazon in retail; and soon upstarts like Airbnb in temporary lodging, or ber in personal short-haul transportation. Companies like
Googles YouTube create nothing, use free labour, and make huge revenues. As
they say, if you are not paying for a service online, then you are the product.
Taking control of the means of production is one possible solution. It may sound
Marxist, but knowledge workers of the world now own the means of production.
However, most companies and labour laws are structured around an industrial

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model of capital and labour. The innovation that will save the middle class will be
new business models.
Many middle-class, mid-career professionals I have met are unhappy with the
workplace status quo. This time, though, we actually have the means, not just in
our knowledge, but the tools to create new ways of working that do not dehumanize people. There are examples of more human work. The usual examples
of bossless companies e.g. W.L. Gore (US ), Semco SA (BR ), Mondragon (ES )
are often discussed, but seldom replicated.
The only way to create better workplaces is to vote with our feet. If those who
are educated, knowledgeable, and experienced do not push for a better world of
work, then who will? Many young people are moving to a shareable economic
model, which is quite powerful, but this may not be enough to sustain other aspects of society necessary in the network era, such as utilities, healthcare, public
education, basic research, and many other areas that could also do with more
democracy and more humanity.
The people formerly known as the middle class have the unique opportunity to
become the people who will make work more human. It will begin by changing
the worldview. Hierarchies do not need to be the natural organizational model.
People can work in self-managing networks.

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From Hierarchies to Networks


Figure 6 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy (cluetrain.com)

unlimited
information

self-publishing

ridiculously easy
group-forming

Seb Paquet

A new model for work is required. Hierarchies, simple branching networks, are
obsolete. They work well when information flows mostly in one direction: down.
Hierarchies are good for command and control. They are handy to get things done
in small groups. But hierarchies are rather useless to create, innovate, or change.
We have known for quite a while that hierarchies are ineffective when things
get complex. For example, matrix management was an attempt to address the
weakness of organizational silos resulting from simple, branching hierarchies. In
matrix management people have more than one reporting line and often work
across business units. However, the performance management system and job
structure have remained intact so that matrix management has just added more
complication, rather than increased effectiveness.

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Any hierarchy, even one wrapped in matrices, becomes an immovable beast as


soon as it is created. The only way to change a hierarchical organization is to
create a new hierarchy. This is why reorganization is so popular; and so ineffective. Most organizations still deal with complexity through reorganization. Just
think of the last time a new CEO came in to fix a large corporation. A networked
enterprise starts by building a foundation of trust, embracing networks, and then
managing complexity.
Many of todays larger companies have overly complicated, hierarchical structures. As they grew to their current size, control processes were put in place to
create efficiencies. To ensure reliable operations and avoid risk, work became
standardized. New layers of supervision appeared, more silos were created,
and knowledge acquisition was formalized, all in an attempt to gain efficiency
through specialization. Support departments, like human resources, were added
to manage the resulting complicated structure.
Hierarchies reinforce the assumption that management knows best and that the
higher up the hierarchy, the more competent and knowledgeable that person is.
These organizations are now facing increasingly complex business environments
that require continuous learning while working. Typical strategies of optimizing
current business processes or reducing costs only marginally influence the organizations overall performance. Faster market feedback challenges the organizations ability to act. Decision-making becomes paralyzed by process-based
operations and the formal chain of command.
Reorganization has to be part of an organization, not something done to it. This is
why everyone, from an individual contributor to the CEO , has to understand networks. Networks enable organizations to deal with complexity by empowering
people to connect with whom they need to, without permission. Enterprise social

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network platforms can help, letting anyone connect to another colleague, where
the default permission to get access to information is public.
In an interconnected world, systemic changes are sensed almost immediately.
Therefore reaction times and feedback loops have to get faster. Software takes
over routine work, leaving the more complex tasks to people. Workers need more
trusted relationships to share complex knowledge. But these take time to develop. Sharing knowledge in trusted networks does not happen overnight. Complex
problems cannot be solved alone. They require the sharing of tacit knowledge,
which cannot easily be put into a manual. Tacit knowledge flows best in trusted
networks. This trust also promotes individual autonomy and can become a foundation for organizational learning, as knowledge is freely shared. Without trust,
few people are willing to share their knowledge.
In a creative economy we have to change how we think about learning and work.
The most significant change is in how we deal with information and knowledge.
We no longer have to go to the library to get a book. We have access to a growing network of expertise from people, like bloggers, who are willing to share
their knowledge for free. Expertise is becoming ubiquitous through the Internet
and professional social networks. Ones position in the hierarchy is no longer an
indicator of ones influence or knowledge. As a result, many are beginning to
challenge the hierarchical nature of the organization.
For thousands of years people developed work skills through apprenticeship. This
worked for small numbers and developed into the highly structured guild system
in Europe. Industrialization marked the fall of the guild system. The industrial
economy adopted a new management frameworks, which included something
called human resources (HR ).

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Human Networks
Recruiting, talent management, professional development, and every other area
of HR is trying to deal with the post-industrial workplace. Most business leaders
see that the Internet is changing their business. They understand that automation is a force to be reckoned with. However, many do not have a clue where or
how to start. The old ways of thinking are still firmly entrenched, but we cannot
deal with the new era in the same way we managed the old one. Leaders need
to understand what they are dealing with and use the appropriate methods. First
they need to understand the difference between chaotic, complex, and complicated situations.
Chaos is a state in which the only appropriate response is to do something quickly, as in an emergency. Chaotic situations require action. Organizations should
try to avoid chaos. Complex environments are not chaotic but they cannot be
completely understood in advance. Weather systems are complex. Patterns can
be sensed and responses prepared, but each case is different. Emerging practices
need to be developed while staying engaged with complex systems. Pretty well
all human systems are complex. Complicated environments, on the other hand,
have many pieces but they can be understood with enough analysis. An airplane
is complicated.
Many traditional management practices assume the business system is complicated and understandable, given enough time to analyze it. This is perhaps the
major flaw of industrial management. Most of our difficult organizational problems are actually complex. They cannot be understood except in hindsight. Each
time we deal with a complex environment it is different. This means we cannot
repeat what we did before and expect the same results. Instead, complex situations require constant small probing actions that are safe to fail. We can only

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understand complexity through active experiments, accepting that perhaps half


of these will fail. Encouraging failure, and learning from it, must be the default
management mode in complex environments.
Complex problems require cooperation while complicated projects need collaboration. Collaboration is working together on a common problem, while cooperation is freely sharing without any objective. Cooperation is not team work. It is
helping the entire organization, as one would support a natural commons, and
this requires people who are not just doing their job, but involved in the whole
system. This is a major change in how business functions, like HR, have been
managed. Knowing what is complicated, and what is complex, can help the organization develop the appropriate work practices. Less structure and more flexibility is required for complex problems.
In complex environments, how can an organization build awareness, investigate
alternatives, and act on problems? The organization needs to connect the outside with the inside. This is not a technology challenge but rather a structural one.
Organizations need to help knowledge flow and this only happens when people
are connected. Technology is a facilitator, but people are the key. This is too
often overlooked, as in most enterprise social network implementations, where
training is bolted on at the end of the technology build. Encouraging awareness,
experimenting with alternatives, and taking action can each be supported within
a unified organizational framework.
We already have the communication technologies to know what is happening
across any organization. Most companies are also listening attentively to external social media. Given all this information, it is an easy next step to let people
experiment, as long as they share what they are doing. Practices such as working
out loud help build trust. In an age when information is no longer scarce and

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connections are many, organizations have to let all workers actively share their
knowledge. To succeed in the creative economy, organizations require a combination of actively engaged knowledge workers, using optimal communications
tools, all within a supportive work structure.
We are at the beginning of another management revolution, similar to the one
that created modern business schools and their scientific methods. There are
many examples today of companies testing out new management models such
as the social enterprise, democracy in the workplace, self-organizing work teams,
and networked free-agents. While there are no clear answers, it is fairly certain
that standing still will lead to failure. Giving up control is the great challenge for
management.
Organizations have to become knowledge networks. An effective knowledge network cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each worker. Networked leaders
foster deeper connections, developed through ongoing and meaningful conversations. They understand the importance of tacit knowledge in solving complex
problems. Networked leaders know they are just nodes in the knowledge network
and not a special position in a hierarchy. The new focus of management has to be
on supporting human networks.

Networked Workplaces
Networks are in a state of perpetual Beta. Unlike hierarchies, they can continuously change shape, size, and composition, without the need for a formal reorganization. Our thinking needs to continuously change as well. Of course this
means letting go of control. Hierarchies were essentially a solution to a communications problem. They are artifacts of a time when information was scarce and
hard to share, and when connections with others were difficult to make. That
time is over.
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So heres the current situation: markets, competitors, customers, suppliers, are


already highly connected. The Internet has done this. It is why a connected enterprise needs to be organized more like the Internet, and less like a tightly controlled machine.
While a certain amount of hierarchy may be necessary to get specific project
work done, networks function best when each node can choose with whom and
when it connects. Hierarchies should be seen as temporary, negotiated agreements to get work done, not immutable power structures. Networks enable work
to be done more effectively when that work is complex and there are no simple
answers, best practices, or case studies to fall back on. Large-scale hierarchies
have outlived their usefulness.
The Internet has finally given us a glimpse of the power of networks. We are just
beginning to realize how we can use networks as our primary organizational form
for living and working. A connected enterprise has to be based on looser hierarchies and stronger networks.
Thinking like a node in a network and not as a position in a hierarchy is the first
mental shift required to address complexity. The old traits of the industrial/
information worker may have been intellect and diligence but networks need
people who are creative and take initiative. People cannot be creative on demand.
Nurturing creativity becomes a primary management responsibility.
In networks, even established practices like teamwork can be counter-productive.
Teams promote unity of purpose. Sports metaphors are often used in teamwork,
but in sports there is only one coach and everybody has a specific job to do
within tight constraints. In todays workplace, there is more than one ball and the
coach cannot see the entire field. The team, as a work vehicle, is outdated. In a
complex world, team unity may be efficient, but not very effective.
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Exception-handling also becomes more important in the networked enterprise.


Automated systems can handle the routine stuff while people working together
deal with the exceptions. As these exceptions get addressed, some or all of the
solutions can get automated, and so the process evolves. Complexity increases
the need for both collaboration and cooperation. Networks enable rapid shifts in
the composition of work groups, without any formal reorganization. Networked
colleagues, learning together, can close the gap between knowing and doing.
To thrive in the network era we need to understand networks social networks,
value networks, information networks, etc. The network era has already changed
politics, created new dominant business models, opened up learning, and is now
changing how organizations operate on the inside. Once we are able to talk
about networks, we will see that many of our current work practices are rather
obsolete. From how we determine the value of work, to how we calculate pay for
work; organizations will need to adapt to the network era.
It is possible that hierarchical organizations will not be able to adapt to the network era. As with the assembly line, the view of the company as an organization
chart may become a relic of the past.

Three Major Changes


The networked workplace will become the new reality. It is always on and globally
connected. This is where all organizations are going, at different speeds and in
a variety of ways. Some wont make it. In many organizations the outside world
is better connected than inside the workplace. This makes it difficult to connect
at the boundaries, which is where we have the best opportunities for serendipity
and potential innovation.

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At the edge of the organization, where there are few rules everything is a blur. It
may even be chaotic. But opportunities are found in chaos. Value emerges from
forays into the chaos. In such a changing environment, failure has to be tolerated.
Nothing is guaranteed other than the fact that not playing here puts any organization at a significant disadvantage.
When dealing with work problems we can categorize the response as either
known or new. Known problems require access to the right information to solve
them. This information can be mapped, and frameworks such as knowledge
management can help us map it. We can also create tools to do work and not
have to learn all the background knowledge in order to accomplish a known task.
New problems need tacit knowledge to solve them. The system handles the
routine stuff and people, usually working together, deal with the exceptions. As
these exceptions get addressed, some or all of the solution can get automated,
and so the process evolves. Exception-handling is becoming the primary work for
people in the networked workplace.
Complex and new problems cannot be solved using standard methods.
Customized work is the realm of people, not machines or software. People are
the best interface with complexity but they need to be connected and not work in
isolation. This increases the need for more cooperation as the primary long-term
activity, and collaboration for short-term specific projects.
Another challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they
know has diminishing value. How to solve problems together is becoming the
real business imperative. Sharing and using knowledge is where business value
lies. With computer systems that can handle more and more of what we already
know, the network era worker has to move to the complex and chaotic edge of

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the organization to do the valued work of exception handling, or dealing with new
challenges as they present themselves.
Three major changes are needed for the network era workplace.
First, power must be distributed. Distributed power enables faster reaction time
so those closest to the situation can take action. In complex situations there is
no time to write a detailed assessment. Those best able to address the situation have marinated in it for some time. They could not sufficiently explain it to
someone removed from the problem if they wanted to anyway. Research shows
that sharing complex knowledge requires trusted relationships. Shared power
breathes trust into the workplace.
Second, transparency must become the norm. Transparency ensures there is an
understanding of what everyone is doing. It means narrating work and taking
ownership of mistakes. Transparency helps the organization learn from mistakes.
Of course this is very difficult for any command and control organization, with its
published organization chart and sacrosanct job titles, to embrace. Transparency
is a breath of fresh air that cleans the cobwebs from the hierarchy.
Power-sharing and transparency enable work to move out to the edges and away
from the comfortable, merely complicated work that has been the corporate
mainstay for decades but is now getting automated. There is little comfortable,
stable work left to do inside the organization. But there will always be complex
problems that cannot be solved through automation. These will require active,
engaged, and constantly learning professionals.
Third, everyone in the organization must take control of their learning. It cannot
be left to human resources. Continuous learning is now a critical workplace skill.
Work is learning, and learning is the work. This is an ongoing process of moving

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knowledge from the edge (social networks) to the core (work teams) and back
out to the edges. This is how knowledge can be pulled on a daily basis.
Connecting the edge to the core is a major challenge for organizations. It means
connecting emergent practices and cooperative behaviours with collaborative
project-based work. Part of the solution is more open management frameworks
but another part is edge-like individual skills and aptitudes. Personal Knowledge
Mastery covers the latter. It is a continual process of seeking from the edge
(networks), filtering through communities of practice, sense-making at the core
(work teams), and sharing back out to our communities and networks. Once
habituated, it is like breathing in and out, regularly.

Organizations and Learning


Learning is not something to get, like getting a course. In too many cases we view
learning as something that is done to people. We think we can get an education
or get people trained. This is absurd. Learning is a process of experiences, reflection, and practice. Becoming a good learner requires discipline.

Figure 7 The Network Era: a creative economy


yesterday

tomorrow

labour

obedience
diligence
intelligence

connectivity

unique creative work talent

initiative
creativity
passion

standardized routine work

automation

explicit

knowledge

implicit

formal

learning

informal

tangible

value

intangible

People need to take control of their learning in a world where they are simultaneously connected, mobile, and global; while conversely contractual, part-time, and

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local. Organizations must also move learning away from training and HR as some
external quick-fix solution that gets called in from time to time. Learning must be
an essential part of doing business in the network era. Learning has to be owned
by the workers and learning support has to be a function of the business structure. If learning is the work today, why do we need a separate department responsible for managing it? And if workers really are responsible for their learning,
why cant they take control of it?
W. Edwards Deming, American management visionary, understood that systemic
factors account for most organizational problems, and changing these has more
potential for improvement than changing any individuals performance. Therefore
the role of executives should be to manage the system, not individuals. But the
real barrier to systemic change is hierarchical management, as it constrains the
sharing of power, a necessary enabler of organizational learning. People have to
trust each other to share knowledge, and power relationships can block these
exchanges. Just listen to any boardroom meeting and see how power can kill a
conversation. If learning is what organizations need to do well in order to survive
and thrive, then structural barriers to learning must be removed.
A key factor in sustaining any enterprise is organizational learning. Knowledge
gives us the ability to take effective action (know how) and this is the type of
knowledge that really matters in both business and life. Value from this knowledge is created by groups and spreads through social networks.
The only knowledge that can be managed is our own, so organizational knowledge management should first support personal knowledge mastery. PKM is an
individual discipline of seeking, sense-making, and sharing that helps each of
us understand our world and work more effectively. In addition to PKM , groups
should promote working out loud to ensure common understanding and to

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address exceptions to the norm, as this is where group learning happens. The
organization can then ensure that important decisions are recorded, codified,
and easily available for retrieval. Each of us is responsible for our own learning
but our responsibility to our peers is to share this learning. If nobody shared what
they have learned, there would be nothing like Wikipedia or other free learning
resources on the web. The same pertains to sharing inside organizations.
Learning in the workplace is much more than formal instruction. In 2012, Jane
Hart, international workplace learning advisor, asked her readers what were their
top five ways of learning at work.
1. Email
2. In-person
3. Reading blogs and articles
4. Searching the Web and social media
5. Connecting in social networks and communities of practice
It is obvious that there are many simple and inexpensive things that can be done
to support workplace learning that do not include training or courses. In an open
environment, learning will flourish, as it has on the Web. When we remove artificial boundaries to working and learning, we enable innovation.
Learning is everywhere. Learning and working are interconnected in the network
era. If learning support is not connected to work, it is rather useless. Consider the
following:
If I am sitting at my desk with a work-related problem, can I call the
Training Department to quickly get me up to speed?

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If I want to learn about a new market sector, will the Learning &
Development specialist help me?
If I need some coaching to prepare me for a meeting with a new client,
can I call Human Resources to connect me with the right person who is
available?
If I am stuck on trouble-shooting an unfamiliar piece of software, can I
get someone from Training to walk me through it?
If Im looking for great examples of collaboration and social learning, do
the folks in Training & Development model them?
If I want to become a better networked learner, can I call a Training
specialist to get me started and coach me?
People in a network era learning organization need more than training; they need
ongoing, real-time, constantly-changing, collaborative, support. Much of this
they can get from themselves, their communities of practice, and their networks.
But they can only work effectively if barriers to organizational learning are removed. In such an environment people at all levels are narrating their work in a
transparent environment, the daily routine supports social learning, and time is
made available for reflection and sharing stories. As Frederic Laloux notes in his
book, Reinventing Organizations, the key role of a CEO is in holding the space so
that people can self-manage and learn for themselves.

New Skills
Ours is a globally connected world, with a multitude of local cultures and competition from all directions. Production work is waning and creative work is
in higher demand. We need to develop new workplace disciplines. There are
several primary skills, identified by the Institute for the Future, for networked

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professionals in the future workplace of 2020. Four of these are supported by the
PKM

framework.
1. Sense-making
2. Social Intelligence
3. Media Literacy
4. Cognitive Load Management

Sense-making takes time and practice to develop routines of critical thinking


combined with ways to not just process knowledge but create something new.
For me, blogging forms the keystone of my sense-making. For others, it may be
talking out loud while driving. Weaving a network that brings diversity of opinions and depth of knowledge is how effective seeking leads to better sense-making. For example, I am constantly following/unfollowing on Twitter in an attempt
at optimal filtering; an impossible but worthwhile goal. I look for experts who
share their knowledge or act as human-powered content aggregators, selecting
quality information and discarding the crap.
Social intelligence comes through sharing our work and interacting with others,
some of whom may be on similar knowledge journeys. Finding fellow knowledge
seekers can be very helpful and online social networks can make these connections easier to find.
Media literacy is necessary as one seeks knowledge from various networks,
tries different media tools, and uses them to communicate and share with others. Knowledge in a networked society is different from what many of us grew
up with in the pre-Internet days. While books and journal articles are useful in
codifying what we have learnt, knowledge is becoming a negotiated agreement
amongst connected people.
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Figure 8 We need to connect knowledge flows


informal &
networked

Professional Social
Networks

Communities of Practice

Work & Projects


structured &
hierarchical
goal-oriented
& collaborative

opportunity-driven
& cooperative

Like electricity, knowledge is both particles and current, or stock and flow. The
increasing importance of fluid knowledge requires a different perspective on how
we think of it and use it. If change is constant, then the half-life of codified knowledge (stock) decreases. We see this with the increasingly combative debates on
intellectual property expressed as copyright which are vestiges of an economy
dominated by knowledge as stock. The digital world is bumping against the
analog world and we are currently caught in-between.
The only way to navigate this change is collaboratively. Part of cognitive
load management is off-loading some of it to our network. No one has the
right answer, but together we can explore new models of sense-making and

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knowledge-sharing. We should find others who are sharing their knowledge flow
and in turn contribute our own. While becoming a better digital librarian, or curator, may be important, in the long run it is about being a participating member of
a networked society.

New Work Tools


The high-value work today is in facing complexity, not in addressing problems
that have already been solved and for which a formulaic or standardized response has been developed. One challenge for organizations is getting people to
realize that what they already know has increasingly diminished value. Solving
problems together is becoming the real business challenge. Networks, not simple
hierarchies, are needed to do this kind of work.
Our dominant business models are the legacy of military hierarchies. But in a
networked world these are inefficient, ineffective, and stifle innovation. Many
major business disasters, such as oil spills and corruption scandals in the last
half-century, can be partially blamed on overly-controlling management practices. The problem with hierarchies is that they are only as smart as the smartest
gatekeepers. Networks are smarter than the sum of their nodes. Business models
that enable connected leadership are essential in a network era.
The new work structures required for increasingly complex networked economies need to be supported by skilled workers with the right tools. We know that
sharing complex knowledge requires strong interpersonal relationships, with
shared values, concepts, and mutual trust. But discovering innovative ideas usually comes via loose personal ties and diverse networks. Knowledge-intensive
organizations need to be structured for both. Effective knowledge-sharing drives
business value in a complex economy and this requires a workforce that is adept
at sense-making.
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In a networked enterprise, capabilities need to be aligned with tools. A core


requirement for both knowledge workers, and enterprise tools, is to share what
we are learning and doing. Making work more explicit enables the organization
to learn. Sharing user-generated content (knowledge artifacts) is how everyone
can make tacit knowledge more explicit. Work is learning and learning is the
work, when everyone shares. This is called working out loud and learning out loud.
Of course this is more difficult if communications systems do not allow the easy
creation and sharing of this content. Tools have to support the work.
Most organizations have tools that support working together for a common
objective. Coordinating tasks, conducting meetings that dont waste time, and
finding expertise are common collaborative tasks. Letting workers pick their own
collaboration tools can go a long way in getting work done. Having an array of
tools is also helpful. Modelling collaboration skills throughout the enterprise is
even better.
When people share openly, without any direct gain, knowledge networks thrive
and the organization benefits. Cooperative skills include sharing openly with
colleagues, communicating effectively, and networking to improve business
performance. In addition, social media require new skills, beyond traditional face
to face interchanges. Setting sharing as a default behaviour is a good start, but
providing tools to enable sharing is also needed. As with collaboration, cooperative behaviours need to be modelled and encouraged.
A combination of skills, structures, and tools can help to create a networked
enterprise. All are needed. Focusing on only one or two areas will likely not yield
much success. This has been a problem with many social business initiatives
which are too focused on the tools. It takes a systemic approach.

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Figure 9 Working & learning out loud connect us


professional
social
networks

diversity of ideas,
opinions, & perspectives
weak social ties

diversity

communities
of practice

rk
wo

u
t lo

ou

test new ideas


in a trusted space
mixed social ties
d

work &
projects

share complex knowledge,


deadline-driven
strong social ties
goal-oriented
& collaborative

le

n
ar

u
t lo

ou

opportunity-driven
& cooperative

Beyond Hierarchies
We are seeing growing complexity both inside and outside the enterprise. In this
complex and connected world we cannot predict outcomes, but we can engage
our environments and markets and then learn by doing. This makes constant learning a critical business skill. It requires do-it-yourself learning as well as social learning skills. How can we help people in the organization develop these skills?
Providing good tools and teaching by example is a start. While communication
does not equal collaboration, social media have the potential to support emergent work practices. In changing complex environments it is not much use to rely
on previous best practices. Social networks can provide a space to develop new
practices. How these tools get used is itself an emergent practice, but if workers
are not allowed to practice, nothing will emerge.

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A guiding principle for connected organizational design is for loose hierarchies


and strong networks. This is succinctly explained in Jon Husbands definition of wirearchy: a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority, based on
knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected
people and technology. As networked, distributed work becomes the norm,
trust will emerge from environments that are open, transparent, and diverse.
Strengthening professional social networks will ensure that knowledge is shared
and contributes to organizational longevity. Networked enterprises need to learn
as fast as their environments.
As a result of this improved trust in the workplace, leadership will be seen for
what it is an emergent property of a network in balance and not some special
property available to only the select few. This requires leadership from everyone
an aggressively intelligent and engaged workforce, learning with each other. In
a networked enterprise, it is a significant disadvantage to not actively participate
in social learning networks.
Leadership in networks does not come from above, as there is no top. To know
the culture of the workplace, one must be the culture. This cannot be done while
trying to control the culture. Organizational resilience is strengthened when
those in leadership roles let go of control.
Networked contributors (whether they are full-time, part-time, or contractors)
do the bulk of the knowledge work at the edges of the organization. Working out
loud and personal knowledge mastery are becoming critical skills, as work teams
ebb and flow according to need, but the network must remain connected and
resilient. A key function of connected leaders is to listen to and analyze what
is happening. From this birds-eye view, those in leadership roles can help set

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the work context according to the changing conditions and work on building
consensus.
Three major external forces and trends are driving organizational change.
1. Technology is changing Expectations of what is possible.
2. Globalization is changing Value Creation from tangible to intangible,
as culture gets digitized.
3. Social Media are changing Relationships to a universally connected
world.
We can see that the way we manage our organizations is largely ineffective for
the complex challenges we face, whether driven by the environment, demographics, economics, or politics. The Internet has connected markets, competitors, customers, and suppliers. With an external environment that is highly connected, organizations have to get connected inside.
A networked enterprise needs to be organized more like the Internet, and less
like a tightly controlled machine. While hierarchies are practical to get work done,
they should not be the overarching structure for the organization. There is still a
need for responsibility and accountability, but authority has to be distributed to
deal with complex problems.
We know that complex problems require the sharing of tacit knowledge, which
cannot easily be put into a manual. We also know that tacit knowledge flows best
in trusted networks. This trust promotes individual autonomy and can become a
foundation for organizational learning, as knowledge is freely shared. But without
trust, few people are willing to share their knowledge.

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What does a post-hierarchical organization look like?


It will be one that provides a sense of belonging like a tribe, but with
more diversity and room for personal growth.
It will have the institutional structure to manage the basic systems so
people can focus on customers and community, not merely running the
organization.
It will have market type competition, but without a winner-take-all
approach.
It will promote cooperative actions that add to the long-term value of
the ecosystem and community, not just short-term collaboration to get
the next project done or achieve some arbitrary quarterly results.
Making the networked organization more resilient will help everyone in it, not
just a few central nodes. The networked organization takes the long view.

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Figure 10 Work in the Network Era


Social Media are changing Relationships
Technology is changing Expectations
Globalization is changing Value Creation

support relationships

social
networks

connect

solve

innovate
perpetual beta

personal
knowledge
mastery

create value

share expectations

initiate
change

share

Influenced by Simon Terry.


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Leadership in such a post-hierarchical organization starts by connecting people


to the goals of work, not merely doing their job. By practicing personal knowledge mastery, everyone takes responsibility for critical thinking. Active experimentation is encouraged through constant learning by doing, and sharing with
others to solve problems. Innovation will emerge from the entire network, when
everyone is responsible in a transparent and open organization. Leadership in a
post-hierarchical organization is therefore about building work structures that
align people with goals. It enables connecting people so that they can share
knowledge in order to solve problems.

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2 PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE MASTERY


PKM Revisited
A model of curation for the digital era that is being used in health and
care is Harold Jarches Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM ). This is
about individuals making the best use of their networks and other sources
of knowledge so that they can keep up to date with the most effective
thinking in their area and practice new ways of doing things. Leaders
who take responsibility for their own effectiveness through PKM create
leverage and value for their organisations. The underpinning framework
for curation within PKM is seek, sense, share. Seeking is about finding
things out and keeping up to date; pulling information, but also having
it pushed to us by trusted sources. Sensing is about making sense and
meaning of information, reflecting and putting into practice what we have
learned and plugging information into our own mental models and turning
it into knowledge. Sharing is about connecting and collaborating; sharing
complex knowledge with our own work teams, testing new ideas with
our own networks and increasing connections through social networks.
UK National Health Service (2014) White Paper:
The new era of thinking and practice in change and transformation

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It is becoming more difficult to make sense of the world by ourselves.


Understanding issues that affect our lives takes significant time and effort,
whether it be public education, universal health care or climate change. Even the
selection of a mobile phone plan requires more than mere numeracy and literacy. We need context to understand complex issues and this can be provided by
those we are connected to. The reach and depth of our connections become critical in helping us make sense of our environment and to solve problems. Problemsolving is what most people actually do for a living, so doing it better can have
widespread effects. With social learning, everyone contributes to collective
knowledge and this in turn can make organizations and society more effective in
dealing with problems.
Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM ) is an individual, disciplined process by which
we make sense of information, observations and ideas. In the past it may have
been keeping a journal, writing letters or having conversations. These are still
valid, but with digital media we can add context by categorizing, commenting or
even remixing it. We can also store digital media for easy retrieval. However, PKM
is of little value unless the results are shared by connecting to others and contributing to meaningful conversations. The whole is greater than the sum of the
parts as we build on the knowledge of others. As knowledge workers or citizens,
PKM

is our part of the social learning contract. Without effective PKM at the indi-

vidual level, social learning has less value.


Thierry de Baillon, co-founder of the Future of the Collaborative Enterprise project,
has said that; The basic unit of social business technology is personal knowledge management, not collaborative workspaces. PKM is a framework for individuals to take control of their professional development. Disciplined PKM brings
focus to the information sea we swim in. The multiple pieces of information that
we capture and share can increase the frequency of serendipitous connections,
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especially across organizations and disciplines where innovation often happens.


As Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From says that chance
favors the connected mind.
PKM is the basis for learning in the network era. I have developed the
Seek>Sense>Share framework to explain PKM . Today, work is learning and learning is the work. PKM is every knowledge workers part of the new workplace social
learning contract.
Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network of colleagues is helpful in this regard. It not only allows us to pull information, but also
have it pushed to us by trusted sources.
Sensing-making is how we personalize information and use it. This includes
reflection and putting into practice what we have learned. Often it requires experimentation, as we learn best by doing.
Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks
as well as collaborating with our colleagues. Sharing makes us think more about
what we publish, knowing it will be seen by others.
Sharing complex knowledge in trusted networks requires a combination of actively engaged knowledge workers, using optimal communications tools, all
within a supportive organizational structure. The Seek>Sense>Share framework
can empower workers and help build a more resilient connected enterprise. PKM
is beneficial on both a personal and organizational level, but its real value is in increasing innovation. Without innovation, people and organizations cannot evolve.
In the network era, chance favours the connected person.

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PKM has been described as a way of cleaning out my crap filters so the right
information can come through so I dont feel overwhelmed with information.
When we work in networks, one of our main jobs is getting stuff out of our heads
and sharing with others. PKM is about getting things done in networks. Innovation
in networks is not so much about having ideas as it is about making connections.
PKM gives you a framework to develop a network of people and sources of information that you can draw from on a daily basis. It a process of filtering, creating
and discerning so that you spend less time answering email or finding that great
presentation you saw, and more time focused on being a better practitioner of
your craft.

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Seek>Sense>Share
Seek
Search engines are probably the way most people find most information. If so,
one should at least learn how to use advanced search techniques. Just put this
term in a search engine, and you will find several resources, such as the Google
Advanced search page. But as more of us connect online, the most valuable
sources of information are through trusted knowledge networks. Too often, our
information searching techniques are rather primitive. Consider prairie-dogging
for example, which is standing up in your cubicle and asking those close to you
for advice. It is rather hit and miss and dependent on who works nearby and happens to be listening. Quite often, those closest to you are not the best sources of
knowledge.
Here are some information and knowledge-seeking methods.
Asking: As writer and curator Maria Popova says, I really believe our own curiosity is our greatest and most powerful tool for personal growth.
Reading: There is still a need to read in our digital age. Longer reads, and particularly fiction. Reading novels can make us better thinkers.
Listening: Whether it is in person, on audio, or a video, listening gives us a chance
to absorb what others have to say. Too often, our workspaces do not allow
this. Listening is a skill that takes practice.
Observing: One learns best by observing from the edge, not the centre. Find the
edge of the action and observe from there.

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Australian innovation specialist Tim Kastelle has described two ways of filtering
information; either through mechanical means or from people. Google is a mechanical filter that uses an algorithm, based on enormous amounts of data analysis, to provide relevant search results. Sites such as Digg and Reddit use heuristics to show what has been voted as the most popular or interesting. Either of
these types of filtering are good to quickly find information but their scale means
that context is often lost.
Using people to filter information provides more context, but takes more effort
to set up. Nave filtering is what too often happens in our knowledge searching.
It is like prairie-dogging, or standing up in your cubicle and asking those close to
you for advice. It is rather hit and miss and dependent on who works nearby and
happens to be listening. Expert filtering works in areas where knowledge is more
stable, but in an interconnected, interdependent, digital world we have to ask,
who are the experts? Still, good experts are valuable and you can use platforms
like Twitter to connect to them. For deep knowledge of an area, networked expertise can be sought through a group-sourced information resource or linking to
existing communities of expertise/interest found on platforms such as LinkedIn.
Creating a diverse network of expertise is a core part of PKM .
Seeking in PKM is input, whereas sense-making and sharing are outputs. A blog
post could be an output of PKM , while critical thinking developed over several
blog posts, actions and conversations would be an outcome of PKM . The challenge in getting started with PKM is that the outcomes are not obvious. I recommend something simple, like social bookmarking with Delicious or Scoop.it, to
get started because the outputs are clear.

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As a seeker of knowledge, one should also be looking for others who share
their knowledge. There are two types of people one wants to find, Experts and
Connectors. Sometimes they are the same, but not always.
We should be looking for experts who are more knowledgeable or experienced
than we are in our journey. They do not have to be the experts, only further
ahead of us. People who are too far ahead of our own understanding may be difficult to comprehend, as they may use metaphors, models, and terms that we do
not understand.
Connectors can be practice partners who help keep us focused. They understand
our work or life context. For example, you may be interested in knowledge management but also work in the legal field, which has some special requirements.
Finding someone who discusses issues particular to your field may help you
make connections in your own sense-making.
In seeking out knowledge connections, it becomes very important to ensure
diversity of opinions and perspectives, or one can wind up in what is known as an
echo chamber. The diversity of both what one seeks and who one shares with
have a significant impact on the quality of sense-making processes.

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Figure 11 PKM Roles

high sharing

Connector

Catalyst

high
sensemaking

low
sensemaking

Consumer

Expert

low sharing

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Sense
Once upon a time ... in the future.
By the second decade of the 21st century, the nature of work had
changed. Even so-called knowledge workers were being regularly
downsized, as the corporations called it. A lot of work was getting
automated but a few creative, and lucky, people became almost
overnight successes. Many others were able to carve out new niches
in this connected economy by getting rid of the middlemen and going
straight to their customers, who were now all over the world. Work was
getting more complex. But how could people make sense of it all? Part
of the answer was in taking control of their learning and professional
development, once the sole purview of institutions. Another part of
the answer was in connecting with other, like-minded, and interested
professionals. Those who succeeded were able to seek and build new
knowledge networks in order to make sense of the changing environment,
and then share with their new peers, scattered across the globe.
Whether you call yourself a knowledge artisan or are just trying to keep up with
your profession, you have to take charge of your own learning and development.
Start by asking what value you can add.
Remember when someone older than you first got an email account? They
probably sent you at least one joke, and it was likely to a long list of recipients.
Actually, they probably sent a lot of jokes. There is a similar phenomenon with

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social media. While it may not be jokes, we are inundated with over-sharing of
the same stuff.
First of all, there is a difference between sharing and making something public.
Posting a social bookmark to a service like Delicious does not create additional
noise for your peers in a social network. This is making your work public. But
posting your latest collection of webpages in an activity stream like Twitter or
Yammer is public sharing. Doing it poorly adds more noise than signal in working
out loud.
For example, I passed on a tagged collection of social bookmarks as a result of
a conversation in an online community of practice. I shared this tag when the
occasion arose. I did not post every time I created a new bookmark. This is called
discernment, or knowing when and with whom to share.
As good social learners, sharing is not as important as knowing when to share.
This does not preclude us from collecting lots of information (Seek), but it should
make us consider appropriate ways to share. We should be ready to share when
the time is right.
The most important and difficult part of PKM is sense-making. Little should be
shared if there has been no value added. The value I added when sharing my
bookmarks was not so much in terms of adding my own insights, which were
negligible, but there was value in the timing. The context for sharing was optimal.
There are some people who are very good online curators. Both Maria Popova at
brainpickings.org and Robin Good at MasterNewMedia.org demonstrate how to
add value through their curation. Maria provides detailed insights and comments
while Robin uses scoop.it where he always adds his perspective. Follow their
examples of adding value.

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Thinking of adding value should be the first stage in PKM , or any professional
online sharing. That value could be just parking things for easy retrieval. It is definitely not filling activity streams with massive amounts of unwanted information.
Find ways to separate signal and noise.
I use a range of sense-making techniques, e.g. filters to separate the signal
from the noise, and techniques to validate any sources of information I
receive which I have developed over time. Although I trust my network
to feed me valid resources, it is always important to check any resources
personally to ensure they meet my own high quality control standards.
I then synthesise any new valuable pieces of information with what I
already know, asking myself does this add something key to what I already
know, does this take my own thinking forward, or does this even change my
thinking about what I already know.
Jane Hart, My Daily PKM Routine

As author Dan Pink remarked in his book To Sell is Human, in order to sell an idea,
one must be able to distill its essence, or the one percent that gives life to the
other ninety-nine percent. Understanding that one percent, and being able to
explain it to others, is the hallmark of strong minds. Sense-making is knowledge
distillation through repeated practice.
The knowledge gained from PKM is an emergent property of all its activities.
Merely tagging an article does not create knowledge. The process of seeking out
information sources, making sense of them through some actions, and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge are interlinked activities
from which knowledge emerges, often slowly.
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Professional and enterprise social networks are becoming the norm. We have
passed the initial infatuation stage with social media and now it is time to use
them to get things done, solve problems, make connections, and improve our
creativity. Unless each person has effective sense-making processes, social business networks will be nothing more than noise amplification. Like those email
jokes most of us now snicker about, sharing without adding value is pass.
Ross Dawson, futurist and business consultant, identified five ways of adding
value to information. This is a good list to start with.
Filtering: separating signal from noise, based on some criteria.
Validation: ensuring that information is reliable, current or supported by research.
Synthesis: describing patterns, trends or flows in large amounts of information.
Presentation: making information understandable through visualization or logical
presentation.
Customization: describing information in context.
In 1936, James Mangan, a most interesting character and worth an Internet
search, identified several skills for acquiring knowledge, in his book, You Can Do
Anything.
Practice: This is absolutely critical. It is primarily through experience-performance-reflection that we learn.
Get it from yourself: Sometimes it is better to work things out for yourself than
get a quick answer from someone else.
Walk around it: Looking at something from a different perspective, especially
away from the mainstream, can give new insights.
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Experiment: Use a probe make sense then respond, approach with both work
and learning.
Curator and web publisher Robin Good has identified five more curation skills,
and here is how they relate to sense-making:
Comparing: With increasing complexity, and obfuscation by competing interests, being able to compare related items becomes more valuable. Imagine if
someone could compare all your mobile telephone options in a clear, simple
way. Good comparisons are quite useful.
Finding related items: Collecting a series of resources on a subject over time can
be useful, and save others time. For example, I have several bookmarks on
shareable workspaces that I have passed on to many people interested in
starting a work commons.
Illustrating/Visualizing: Good info-graphics are very useful, but too often they
obscure. Visualizing takes great skill but can be exceptionally useful.
Evaluating: Being able to set criteria and evaluate from a neutral point of view can
add real value to what otherwise would just be data. American statistician
Nate Silver has made a living from this.
Crediting & Attributing: While attribution may just seem like a nice thing to
do, it is very important to trace how knowledge is constructed. With proper
attribution to the original source, you can then make changes if evidence or
circumstances change.
It can sometimes be difficult to see oneself as a node in multiple networks, as
opposed to a more conventional position within an organizational hierarchy. We
have become used to titles, job descriptions, and other institutional trappings.

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But network thinking (and seeing) can fundamentally change our view of hierarchical relationships.
When NASA released the photograph of the earth as seen from space, known as
the blue marble, it gave new impetus to the environmental movement, showing
our planet as a small dot in a black void. Seeing is believing. Visualization can be
a very powerful tool in sharing complex knowledge. The visualization of social
network analysis (SNA ) can give us significant new perspectives, not available
from looking at a series of data points. The SNA study of pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian news outlets showed that only one was trusted by both sides, but its
moderate position was losing hard line viewers from both sides. Seeing this
polarization may help to understand it.
The added value of using a sense-making tool like SNA to further examine information is the core of PKM . Adding value to the information in our fields helps
make our knowledge networks smarter and this is how we can collectively deal
with more complex problems. Visualization, and new metaphors, are essential
to understand systemic change. They give us new ways to describe and discuss
phenomena. In business, visualizing network relationships can give the initial
leverage of getting complex new ideas accepted into general management
thinking.
I once used value network analysis (VNA ) to help a companys research steering
group see their internal community of practice in a new light. This is a visualization technique that maps a system and looks at tangible and intangible asset
flows. For the first time, they saw it mapped as a value network, not a hierarchy.
They immediately realized that they were pushing solutions instead of listening
to their community. This was obvious when all arrows pointed toward the user
community, and no tangible or intangible value arrows pointed out. As a result,

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they decided to change their Charter and develop more network-centric practices.
Thinking in terms of networks enabled them to see their community with new eyes.

Share
We need to be reading, watching and listening to find out what is happening in
our professional fields. There are flows of conversation around us all the time. For
those of us with access to the digital surround we have no excuses not to connect. Finding conflicting viewpoints on a subject is as easy as going to Wikipedia
and reading the comments on the Talk tab on any controversial subject. The
variety and depth of our connections are indicators of how seriously we take our
sense-making efforts. Who we know helps to improve what we know.
We exchange and note ideas and information all of the time. In the age of print
we lent out or gave away books, magazines and newspapers. We exchanged
opinions, sometime without knowing it. An empty restaurant on a Saturday night
may have indicated that the locals did not think it was any good.
Conversations help us make meaning. The quality of our conversations is affected by the quality of the company we keep. If we seek out interesting people with
different ideas we may learn more and broaden our horizons.
A stock exchange is designed to help capital flow and we need to use knowledge
exchanges to allow ideas to flow. For centuries, knowledge exchanges were limited to elites but we now have access to worlds largest and most open exchange
ever created.
Author and professor Clay Shirky has brought up the concept of a cognitive surplus that is a result of the leisure time that we gained about fifty years ago. As
a society we were in a state of shock and did not have the tools to deal with all

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of this time, so television filled the void. Shirky says that television collectively
takes up about 200 billion hours in the US per year. Wikipedia only needed 10
million hours to get to where it is today as the leading online encyclopedia. We
are poised to be able to contribute to more Wikipedia-style efforts but many of
use just dont know how. Our institutions have not prepared us to be ongoing
contributors to human knowledge, as we have been led to believe that this is the
domain of experts.
In addition, Nancy Dixon looked at tacit knowledge-sharing, inspired by Rob
Cross and Lee Sproull who identified five categories of responses that can be
given by experienced workers to those needing help in seeking knowledge.
Answers: The seekers were looking for the application of facts or principles in
order to develop a solution.
Meta Knowledge: This category was about where to go to get more information
on the issue, or conversely where not to go because a certain report was
out-dated, or superficial.
Problem Reformulation: To gain meta-knowledge and/or problem-reformulation
requires the source to be willing to understand the problem as experienced
by the seeker and then shape her/his knowledge to the evolving definition of
the problem and is best served by the give and take of conversation.
Validation [also earlier identified by Ross Dawson]: Validation also provides
seekers the certainty that they have done enough background work, saving
the seeker the time it would take to gather further data.
Legitimizing: As with validation, legitimizing can save the seeker time by reducing the amount of proof or data that may need to be collected before the
client is willing to act. It also serves to head off arguments others might raise.
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In a connected world it is getting much easier to contribute, whether it be with


words, pictures, music, or actions. Not only that, it may be our social responsibility to be contributors to our common knowledge.
In the PKM framework, sharing may seem easy but it does not always equate to
other people finding what you have shared. For example, I can quickly find something on my blog in the thousands of posts I have written, but this would take
someone else much longer. I have the contextual memory of having created each
post. This is why it is also important to use discernment in knowledge sharing.
Since it is easier for me to find something I have created, then I should be open
to opportunities to share, in order to optimize knowledge management in my
workplace. My own knowledge artifacts are almost always more at hand to me
than they are to others. Humans are good at recognizing contextual signals in
the workplace or social environments, and they can make implicit connections,
and then identify something that might be useful to share. Discernment is a very
human quality and one that machines are not yet replacing and it adds value to
knowledge by sharing when conditions are right. Discernment, like all PKM practices, requires mindfulness.
One example of discernment is in closing triangles. This is when one person
introduces two unknown associates to each other, thus closing the triangle.
Discerning when to do this is also important. It would not make sense to make
professional introductions as one person is going on a long vacation or when the
other is extremely busy with an unrelated project. Sensing the right time and
place to make connections is important in network weaving. It is the same with
sharing knowledge.

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Seek > Sense > Share


Curating Knowledge
Seeking Knowledge




Ask
Desire
Read
Listen
Observe
Mangan

Knowledge Filters




Nave
Expert
Network
Heuristic
Algorithmic
Kastelle

Comparing
Finding related Items
Illustrating/Visualizing
Evaluating
Crediting and Attributing
Good

Acquiring Knowledge



Practice
Get it from Yourself
Walk Around It
Experiment
Mangan

Adding Value




Filtering
Validation
Synthesis
Presentation
Customization

Sharing Knowledge




Put in Order
Define
Teach
Write
Reason
Mangan

Helping Seekers




Answers
Meta Knowledge
Problem Reformulation
Validation
Legitimizing
Dixon

Dawson

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PKM Tips
Begin by seeking playfully to connect with others. Be curious and willing to stray
outside your comfort zone (not your usual networks). Try new activities and test
out new tools from time to time. Dont worry about doing everything correctly.
But make sure that you go farther than just seeking new knowledge. Spend time
in sense-making and, more importantly, acting on knowledge.
Strive to make sense and be empowered through learning. Test out an expression
medium, and if it does not work for you, then try another. Find out what others
have done, as some good practices are quite old. Take regular time out for reflection. Also put yourself out there and remember that it is fine to fail. So keep
trying and think of sense-making as a craft that has to be mastered over time.
Finally, share to inspire through your work by modelling behaviours of those who
have shared and helped you. Continue to narrate your work and always try to add
value to what you share.
One of the important aspects of PKM is triage (a medical term) also known as
sorting or prioritizing. It is the ability to separate the important from the useless.
Unfortunately, what you may view as useless today could be quite important
tomorrow. It is not at all straight forward. Therefore developing good triage techniques takes time and practice.
Categorizing (seek): Once we have found something of interest or value, we will
need to categorize it. The big change with the Web is that we no longer have
to put one object in one file folder, as we did with a physical object or even on
your computer desktop. Today, everything is miscellaneous. Tags are labels
that can be attached to digital knowledge objects and an objects can have
many labels. That means that we can have as many categories as we want.
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Categorizing Tools: Feed Readers (Feedly); Social Bookmarks (Delicious, Scoop.it)


Making Explicit (sense): There are many ways of making knowledge explicit. We
can talk about it, write about, engage in debate, create a video or even develop a hypothesis. The act of making it explicit provides the discipline necessary to examine our thought processes.
Sense-making Tools: Writing (WordPress, Tumblr); Audio (podcasts); Video
(YouTube); Slides (Slideshare); Photos (Instagram)
Going Public (share): Even more powerful than making our knowledge explicit is
to make it public. This can start some interesting conversations about things
that matter to us. Going public makes our professional knowledge much
more personal. It also encourages peer discussions and reinforces the outward looking aspect of PKM .
Sharing Tools: Social Networks (Facebook); Activity Streaming (Twitter);
Blogging (Blogger); Presentations (Slideshare); Image Sharing (Pinterest)
Retrieval (seek): The importance of retrieval becomes more obvious with the
passing of time. As years of sorting, categorizing and making explicit develop into a large amount of information we can begin to see its value. These
are our thoughts and ideas but they are connected to the ideas that sparked
them and have been reinforced or questioned by our peers. The great benefit
of using digital tools and Web platforms is that we can retrieve our knowledge artifacts (or information that has special meaning to us) anytime and
anywhere. That is quite a powerful professional asset.
Retrieving Tools: With all tools, you should take note of who owns your data and
how you can retrieve it later. Can the data be exported and used in another
tool, or are you bound to that tool only?
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In conducting several PKM workshops over the past few years, many participants
have added reflections on their own experiences.
There is no higher validation of your idea than others sharing it.
I have to start with myself, and model the skills
everyone will need as an individual.
I think Ive been resting on my SEEKing laurels for a bit too long. I need to
start asking for/seeking inputs from a wider array of people.
There is a risk of getting stuck in seeking and not going further into sensing
and acting on information.
I have worked in many roles in many industries and was not conscious that
with each new engagement I was breaking connections to make new ones.
PKM is not linear. As I learn, I share. As I share, I hear and see new things
from others, and as a result I learn and share
I feel as if PKM allows me to be a bit more open and creative with my ideas,
thoughts and writing; to explore and learn new things. It is opened up
a whole new world and it is just made me eager to know more. It is also
made me realise that our learning will never stop and we should get
comfortable with that idea.
So for my development it is refining the filters it is becoming smarter
about seeking. It is cleaning out my crap filters so the right information can
come through so I dont feel overwhelmed with information.

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My PKM plan would embrace the following:


To improve and refine my seek filters
To spend more time on my sensing to ensure better
understanding of what I consume.
To share higher quality curated content; to maintain and improve
my blogging; where possible, to isolate any frictionless sharing.
Everyday, the same mistakes are made by others and every day the admin
person solves them. It doesnt take too much imagination to work out what
these people have become as a result.
If you follow more than X active people in blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook,
etc., it is simply not possible to divert that entire river of stuff into your
drinking glass.

PKM Getting Started


Seek

Sense

Share

Pick a Tool to Aggregate


Sources
Mix People & Mechanical
Filters
Capture & Annotate Interesting Finds
15 minutes twice daily

Select a
Sense-making Method
Make it Public

Identify Networks & Join a


Community
Comment

Commit to Regular Practice

Share with Discernment

1 hour per week

Twice per day

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Learning is the Work


As we learn in digital networks, content loses significance, as it is abundant;
while conversation becomes more important. The challenge becomes how to
continuously weave the many bits of information and knowledge that pass by
us each day. Conversations help us make sense. But we need diversity in our
conversations or we become insular. We cannot predict what will emerge from
continuous learning, co-creating and sharing at the individual, organizational and
network level.
A professional learning network, with its redundant connections, repetition of
information and indirect communications, is a much more resilient system than
any designed development program can be. There is always more than one way
to communicate or find some information. Just because something was blogged,
tweeted or posted does not mean it will be understood and eventually internalized as actionable knowledge. The more complex or novel the idea, the more
time it will take to be understood.
Programmers often say that you are only as good as your code. Credentials and
certifications often act as blinders and stop us from recognizing the complexity
of a situation. As American satirist Henry Mencken wrote, For every complex
problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
One approach to working smarter starts by organizing to embrace diversity and
manage complexity. Diversity is a key factor in innovation. Your learning network,
from which you seek information and knowledge, needs to be diverse. How diverse is your learning network, with respect to: Age, Gender, Profession, Location,
or Perspective?

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We all need to understand how to become contributing members of networks,


for work and for life. It begins with seeking out and building knowledge networks,
and it never ends.
Understand Networks
Our workplaces, economies and societies are becoming highly networked. That
means the transmission of ideas can be instantaneous. There is no time to pause,
go into the back room and develop something to address our challenges. The
problem will have changed by then.
Accept Life in Perpetual Beta
Not just rapid change, but continual change, requires practices that evolve as
theyre developed. In programming, this has meant a move from waterfall to agile
methods. Beta releases are the norm for Web applications and as we do more on
the Web, other practices are sure to follow.
Master Complexity
Established practices work when the environment or the challenge is simple or
complicated. For complex problems there are no established answers and we
need to engage the problem and learn by probing. This requires a completely
different mindset from training for defined problems and measurable outcomes.
The integration of learning and work is not some ideal, it is a necessity in a complex world.
Here are some suggestions for working and learning in the networked workplace.
Be an active and continuous learner.
Be a lurker (passive participant) & LISTEN.
Communicate what you observe.

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Continuously collect feedback.


Make it easy to share information by simplifying & synthesizing.
Use networks as research tools.
Identify learning skills in others and develop them for yourself.
Social media tools and platforms give us a better way to engage in collaborative
work and help us integrate learning into our daily practice.

PKM and the Future of Work


Work is learning, learning work that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.*
*apologies to the poet John Keats

Our increasing interconnectedness is illuminating the complexity of our work


environments. More connections create more possibilities, as well as more potential problems. On the negative side, we are seeing that simple work keeps
getting automated, like automatic bank machines. Complicated work, for which
standardized processes or software can be developed, usually gets outsourced to
the lowest cost of labour. On the positive side, complex work can provide unique
business opportunities. Because complex work is difficult to copy and creative
work constantly changes, these are where long-term value for human work lies.
Both complex and creative work require greater implicit knowledge. Implicit
knowledge, unlike explicit knowledge, is difficult to codify and standardize. It is
also difficult to transfer.

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Implicit knowledge is best developed through conversations and social relationships. It requires trust before people willingly share their know-how. Social
networks can enable better and faster knowledge feedback for people who trust
each other and share their knowledge. But hierarchies and work control structures constrain conversations. Few people want to share their ignorance with the
boss who controls their pay cheque.
If we agree that complex and creative work are where long-term business value
lies, then learning amongst ourselves is the real work in any organization today.
In this emerging network era, social learning is how work gets done.
Becoming a successful social organization will require more than just the implementation of enterprise social technologies. Developing, supporting, and
encouraging people to use a range of new social workplace skills will be just as
important. Individual skills, in addition to new organizational support structures,
are both required.
PKM skills can help to make sense of, and learn from, the constant stream of
information that workers encounter from social channels both inside and outside
the organization. Keeping track of digital information flows and separating the
signal from the noise is difficult. There is little time to make sense of it all. We
may feel like we are just not able to stay current and make informed decisions.
PKM

gives a framework to develop a network of people and sources of informa-

tion that one can draw from on a daily basis. PKM is a process of filtering, creating, and discerning, and it also helps manage individual professional development
through continuous learning.
The mainstream application of knowledge and learning management over the
past few decades has had it all wrong. We over-managed information because it
was easy and we remain enamoured with information technology. The ubiquity
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of information outside the organization is showing the weakness of centralized


enterprise systems. As enterprises begin to understand the Web, the principle of
small pieces loosely joined is permeating thick industrial walls. More and more
workers have their own sources of information and knowledge, often on a mobile
device. But they often lack the means or internal support to connect their knowledge with others to get actually get work done.
PKM frameworks can help knowledge workers capture and make sense of their
knowledge. Organizations should support the individual sharing of information
and expertise between knowledge workers, on their terms, using PKM methods
and tools. Simple protocols can facilitate this sharing. Knowledge bases and
traditional knowledge management (KM ) systems should focus on essential
information, and what is necessary for inexperienced workers. Experienced workers should not be constrained by work structures like teams but rather be given
the flexibility to contribute how and where they think they can best help the
organization.
We know that formal instruction accounts for less than 10% of workplace learning. The same rule of thumb applies to knowledge management. Capture and
codify the 10% that is essential, especially for new employees. Now use the
same principle to get work done. Structure the essential 10% and leave the rest
unstructured, but networked, so that workers can group as needed to get work
done. Teams are too slow and hierarchical to be useful for the network era. Social
businesses should leave teams for the sports field, and managing knowledge for
each worker.
People who are adept at learning how to learn will be better prepared for jobs of
the future because they know how to engage with a community and tap into networks for support. This is what PKM is all about. It starts by seeking people and

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knowledge sources and the Seek>Sense>Share cycle finishes by sharing with


communities and social networks. There is a need for PKM skills in all types of organizations and for people at all levels, from freelancers, researchers, managers,
executives, and many more. The benefits are not just for individuals, preparing
for their next job, but the organization gains from employees who take control
of their learning and freely share their knowledge. PKM makes for more resilient
individuals and the companies they work in.
Much of PKM is about finding balance. In seeking knowledge sources, we have to
balance aggregation, or getting as much information as possible, with filtering, or
ensuring that we have more signal than noise. Our networks need to be diverse
and varied in order to be exposed to new ideas, but we cannot keep track of everything, so we have to be judicious with our time. We need to constantly lump
things together, while filtering out the good stuff so we can find it again. It is like
breathing information in and out, while making sense of only a small portion at a
time, sometimes built by many grains before trying to express our knowledge in
order to make sense of it.
These processes are not taught in schools or training programs. There is no right
answer in PKM . There are only processes that work. The test of PKM is whether
it works for you. A persons PKM practices will change over time, and the most
important aspect is being aware of how we seek sources of information, make
sense of our own knowledge, and then share it at work, in communities or
through networks.
It is all about continuous learning. PKM practices can help make sense of the
current environment, whether it be your profession, your job, or your areas of
interest. A resilient learning network, that can develop from practicing PKM , creates a more resilient framework from which to make decisions about the future.

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The more you give to your networks, the more you will receive from them. PKM
provides a way to do this in a more structured, but personal, manner. The result
is enhanced serendipity, always an advantage in a changing world.
>

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References
The Alexis de Tocqueville Tour Exploring Democracy in America
http://www.tocqueville.org/

NESTA: Creativity vs Robots


http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/creativity-versus-robots

The Deming Institute


https://www.deming.org/

Jane Hart C4LPT


http://c4lpt.co.uk/

Frederic Laloux: Reinventing Organizations


http://www.reinventingorganizations.com/

Institute for the Future: Future Work Skills 2020


http://iftf.org/futureworkskills

Jon Husband
http://wirearchy.com/

NHS White Paper: The new era of thinking and practice in change and transformation
http://www.nhsiq.nhs.uk/resource-search/publications/white-paper.aspx

Thierry de Baillon
http://www.debaillon.com/

Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1594487715/stevenberlinj-20

Maria Popova
http://www.brainpickings.org/

Tim Kastelle
http://timkastelle.org/

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Value Network Analysis


http://www.valuenetworksandcollaboration.com/

Social Network Analysis


http://www.orgnet.com/

Henry Mencken
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken

John Keats: Ode on a Grecian Urn


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ode_on_a_Grecian_Urn

Robin Good
http://www.masternewmedia.org/

Ross Dawson
http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2010/03/5_ways_to_add_v.html

James Mangan: You Can Do Anything


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002AK0U4E/braipick09-20

Nate Silver
http://fivethirtyeight.com/contributors/nate-silver/

Nancy Dixon: Conversation Matters: Sharing Tacit Knowledge


http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2013/10/
part-ii-we-know-more-than-we-can-say-how-to-use-tacit-knowledge.html

Clay Shirky: Cognitive Surplus


http://books.google.com/books/about/Cognitive_Surplus.html?id=OXbEDGo9WdkC

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