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.
On the flight home yesterday I was thinking about how I manage my time, and relaxing in a Cafe after a long walk I thought I would jot down some notes. First a little about me and my job:
- I am currently in a vision and strategy role, but really I still love to get my hands dirty with architecture, engineering and particularly user experience and productivity issues. Hands on experience is very important to me.
- I work for 4 main groups, within CSC. The End user experience group that develops most of CSC’s desktop service offering, the server based computing and the collaborative services development groups. I also work with our leading edge forum that does research into new and emerging business and technology trends. In my spare time I often consult on bids and proposals.
- I consider an important part of my job the coaching and development of the people I work with, no one works for me
- I work from home
- I work in a global role which in practice means working mainly with Northern Europe, North America and Australia
- I have a wife, 4 kids and a cat and they take up a lot of my time
- I have an auto-immune disease which I can control pretty well, but its does mean my health is pretty unstable on a day to day basis, limits my international travel and the intensity with which I can work.
So these are the principles I try and follow:
- I leave a lot of unscheduled time in my diary. This means I get a lot of flexibility in my day. Many people I know seem to fill their diaries with busy work – often conference calls – which I rapidly stopped doing when I realised that on a lot of these calls I was adding perhaps 10 minutes of value and hour.
- I work a very long, low intensity day. I tend to start work at about 7:30 and finish around 11:00PM. But within that day I spend time with my family, walking, swimming, meditating, business and pleasure reading, lunching with friends and even watching an hour and a half’s TV (generally 1 hour drama and 30 minutes comedy – which we always do as a family at 8:30PM).
- I also typically do quite a lot of integrated work/life activity, listening to podcasts while walking/driving, watching downloaded or DVD copies of technical conferences while I have lunch, scanning my feeds while I watch TV, reading by the health clubs swimming pool while the kids play, working on my Tablet in cafes while gazing at the views and chatting over breakfast. I fill odd bits of dead-times with email processing and phone calls on my Blackberry.
- I don’t use a to-do list really. I just decide what my top 5 or 6 objectives are for the week and my top 2-3 objectives are for each day. I tend to leave "to do" items in my inbox (I email to myself) but otherwise keep my inbox empty (thanks to the Blackberry).
- I find forgetting about all the things I don’t have time to do – that seemed important when I thought of them but really weren’t – very useful. When I used to keep a to-do list the backlog of stuff I never got around to was very depressing.
- Although I have way too much to do, I still buy extra holidays off CSC, so right now I get about 35 days a year and I have no trouble taking them all!
- I invest a lot of time, money and innovation in my work environment and relationships, I long ago realised that my idea of a good working environment was not the same as any of my employers but that if I was going to work for thousands of hours a year, then I should try and create an environment that maximised my chance of enjoying myself
The benefits of this way of working are considerable:
- I get to work on the important but not urgent – most days
- I get to take advantage of good weather
- If something urgent and important crops up I normally have time to cope with it without creating too much stress for my already stressed body to cope with
- Most of the value I add comes from ideas and I have my best ideas when I’m not "working" so I do a lot of recording of voice notes or emails to myself while out and about, often after I jump out of the swimming pool!
- I get to spend time with people when they need it, rather than asking them to "find a slot in my diary" days later
- I get to see a lot of my family, even when I’m really busy
- When I’m in a flare, I don’t disrupt too many peoples schedules
- I have time to dive deep into issues that capture my attention and explore them
There are a few downsides:
- I have to make decisions about what to do most days, which is not as easy as just jumping from one meeting to the next, or one document review to the next. Making decisions can be hard work, especially when I’m not feeling well
- I tend to do things that are difficult, often requiring new ideas, challenging existing ways of doing things, stopping activities that don’t work strategically, convincing people to do difficult and often disruptive things that they don’t have time to do. Difficult things are hard to do on bad days when I can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes or I’m dosed up on pain killers or sitting feeling sorry for myself with a Migraine.
I refined this way of working using the books peopleware and slack, but to be honest I have always worked this way regardless of the type of job I have done.