May 14 2009
Steve over on the Reflexions blog try’s to answer the question
Does Corporate Failure = PKM? posed by Nick Milton and I must admit I find myself agreeing with Steve, who has a few points of agreement with Nick. That is up until the point where Nick is quoted as saying:
If the company is doing Knowledge Management properly, and making communal knowledge transparently available at the point of need, then you would not need PKM.
and Steve responds:
Here’s where I think Nick is spot on
At this point we diverge and here’s why:
- The personal knowledge that I need to manage is not and never will be the same as any pool of knowledge held by my company, although there will be overlaps and gaps in both
- My personal knowledge spans several different companies, and with 60%+ of the content of my knowledge repository being publicly available information, I don’t want it locked up in some company specific silo
- In the last 10 years of working for my current company if I’d put my trust in the companies well funded knowledge management infrastructure, it would now be fragmented across dozens of different systems. Some of these different generations of the enterprise system and some functional or project specific repositories that all existed with sound justification
- A significant proportion of my personal knowledge management system is meaningful only to me based on a context that only I understand, with a subtlety that I’ve never seen in the meta-data support of any enterprise KM system
- Locating the specific “thing I want” in my personal system relies on many clues that don’t exist in enterprise systems and a narrow search scope “just the stuff I’ve tagged, linked, saved or created or modified”. I don’t see an easy way to create this search scope in another way
- I’ve been an avid contributor to enterprise KM at the same time as I’ve built my personal knowledge, but I’ve contributed a small subset to the enterprise, because much of my personal stuff would be clutter to the enterprise, lacking the connections and context that make it knowledge to me
- I’d never consider my personal knowledge as a substitute for enterprise PKM or Google, but I find many people who use google or enterprise search confuse being able to find “something” on any topic, with being able to find the “specific assets” I want in the way that I do in my PKM system
- One final point is that some of my best work and best external knowledge has been dropped from issued versions of work at the enterprise level, because it didn’t survive a scope cut or a change in customer requirements or didn’t convince some approver. I still have that stuff. Unissued stuff still has huge value to me, but would quite rightly confuse the enterprise in a big way
In summary I’m all for enterprise KM, but PKM is a complement to it. A good KM strategy should see itself in this capacity too. Take a look at the “my life bits” research to see the direction that PKM is going, taken to this extreme I don’t see anyone suggesting that all “my life bits” belong in the enterprise KM system. Rather it see’s PKM as an extension of the brain.
PKM is one of the most neglected areas within the enterprise, no surprise that there’s such a rich eco system of tools being created directly targeted at the individual, with many now starting to integrate with the individuals network of contacts, to create a personal knowledge network.