What is Personal Knowledge Management?

Lifestyle analogy

It’s the self-care of your Knowledge. You can go without but don’t be surprised if you feel left behind, underperforming, or easily fooled by the flow of snake oil on the web.

In a time of constant change, reasonable knowledge practice makes your performance sustainable. It’s not bodybuilding. It’s a fit, gentle, and careful usage of our brain.

My definition

PKM is the set of cognitive process to intensify your use of Knowledge for peak performance

We could say that PKM is the practice of efficient thinking. Thinking is the most common capability of humans. Not all thinking aim at expanding our mental performance, but that’s what we need for our work and professional development. That’s our concern here.

Learning is a large part of PKM and thinking. Not all learning is deep, reflective, or intentional. It’s the same for PKM and thinking. PKM leads to thinking deep, intentionally for a purpose.

PKM is natural

PKM has been around since humans became humans. That’s the function of our prefrontal cortex. The one that makes each generation perform better than the preceding one. We imagine, we learn, we apply, we improve, and we transmit.

That’s our evolutionary advantage.

It has been so before writing.

So nothing new, why should we care?

What causes a new challenge?

  • the short life of Knowledge at work, while basics remain pretty stable what is used changes quickly
  • Overflow of new Knowledge available at any time for limited costs or work to reach it. We have to quickly make choices of what is worth learning to catch up on changes and stay relevant
  • multidisciplinary as a rule, average specialists or single-task jobs being in less demand
  • the end of a single job for life, based on a master skill learned once for all

In a way, good PKM lead at maintaining our evolutionary advantage in the modern world 🙂

What it’s not

Or at least what it’s not limited to.

  • 10x Speed reading or super learning techniques. It’s more what happens afterward: reflecting, elaborating, and it takes time anyhow.
  • Building up memory muscles. Trying to memorize tons of facts in memory palaces is useless now that we have the world knowledge in our pocket at all times.
  • Hoarding Knowledge. Don’t be the one reading more blog posts, and gulping feeds after feeds on social media.
  • Blazing fast sensemaking. Making sense without relating and engaging in critical thinking leads to groupthink and declining relevance.
  • Managing incoming information flows. Less is more for sure, but sound processing reduces naturally the need to expose us to more streams. It’s not watching, skim, and read more. It’s to analyze and understand what is needed only.
  • Learning for learning (becoming a scholar). There is always an intent of doing in PKM, it’s not for show off or rethoric.
  • Sharing as a goal, adopting the Stakhanovite discipline of sharing as soon as you make sense of something new.

What it is

  • Creating long deep connections
  • Innovating, nurturing creative habits
  • Staying critical and dissecting what is presented to us, until we can decide where it stands and to what it relates.
  • Doing more with what you know, possibly without learning (formally) more. Like with tools, it’s not always changing the tools that improve the outcome. First should come understanding and reflect on our practice. For this, tinkering around to learn from experience before moving on to the next new shiny theory or app is necessary.
  • Being more intensive with what you know, building more connections, more reflecting
  • Being smart and intentional in seeking the information you need and learn it
  • Letting go of recipes, routines, habits, ill-conceived frameworks, and military-like disciplines as ways to be creative, critical, and organized.
  • Managing what we know, with a goal, purpose, intent

Next Step

Let’s start with Modern Personal Knowledge Management