Sunday, November 25, 2012

Harold Jarche's "Seek Sense Share"

Just finished reading Harold Jarche's "Seek Sense Share" paper on Personal Knowledge Management. 99% of the content resonates with me, so I'll focus on the 1% that has awakened by sense-making / critical thinking, based on personal experience.  This 1% covers two related issues, the scope of one's PKM system and the extent of public sharing and boundaries of public sharing.

I consider my PKM system to encompass all aspects of my life, not just my professional life and related semi-professional interests. However, being a reasonably private person, I have no intention of sharing all of it. Deciding which "public" tools to use to share specific types of information is an important part of learning how to make the most out of a PKM system.

Harold Jarche doesn't suggest we should share everything.   Determining the scope of one's blog, the types of resources to tag on social bookmarking sites are all important aspects of PKM.

In addition, blogging about one's work on a public site isn't always possible or advisable.  Most organizations are smart enough not to try to stop you completely from doing it but they will warn you to use common sense, which could mean that "internal issues" should not be discussed on external platforms.  If you blog internally -- on a personal blog within your organization's firewall -- you may be connecting to key organizational networks, but you miss out on connections with the rest of the world.

In the end, setting up a meaningful PKM system involves much more than identifying the right combination of tools to support seeking, sensing and sharing.  There are multiple strategic aspects that were not discussed in Harold Jarche's piece.  Still, please remember that I started by saying that I completely agree with 99% of it. I just think it needs a little more in terms of guidance to help potential Personal Knowledge Managers navigate key elements of their "system."

Also, I would have liked a mention of the fact that PKM systems need to be very flexible and dynamic, to be able to address new interests, to allow for new tools and constant experimentation.  I go through bursts of seeking/sensing (less sharing) and the tools I use vary over time.  I'm neither consistent nor systematic about any of it.  In the past, I've asked myself whether I shouldn't be more systematic and efficient about it.  I've now decided that messy and flexible is perfectly fine, especially since my PKM system is mostly private.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Never too late....

It's never too late to take physics 101.  In high school, I took the mandatory science but I was on what we called the literary track (this was the French high school system).  In college, I had to take a full year of science and it had to include a lab component.  I did what non-science majors did and I took environmental science.  It was science I could relate to.

Years later, here I am working with engineers and scientists.  For the past four years, I am wondered if the fact that I was neither an engineer nor a scientist would hinder my ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists.  I don't have an answer either way but more recent conversations with my daughters around their college plans and career aspirations unearthed a new train of thoughts.  It is never too late to learn.  Of course I have no interest in going back to school for a degree in science or engineering.  Yet I crave a basic understanding of things in all fields.  And so, I have a Pavlovian response when I encounter new learning opportunities.  The latest one is Coursera, an online learning platform with course content developed by great university professors.

In early 2013, I will take "How Things Work", the equivalent of Physics 101 for non-scientists, taught by UVA professor Louis A. Bloomfield.  An additional cool factor is that my daughter will be taking the course in its face-to-face version at UVA.

I'm not doing this just to learn basic physics.  I'm also interested in the experience of such courses and therefore I will turn this into a little meta-learning experiment.  It's amazing that such great content is made available to all in such a fashion.  Yet, in the absence of a real need for me to complete the course, will my basic interest in learning something new be sufficient to motivate me to complete the course?  How much will I really learn?  Will I get tired of it and distracted by some other, more interesting learning opportunity? Will the fact that I am doing this as part of a broader learning experiment motivate me to complete the course?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Dream Job Delusions

I have, for a while, been keeping an eye on Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning positions advertised on the job market.  I do this for all of the obvious reasons one would keep an eye on the job market even when fully employed. I may even have blogged about it in the past.

There is one aspect of this ongoing process that I have struggled with.  As a seasoned professional, I should know better than to entertain ideas about dream jobs.  I've seen glimpses of dream KM jobs in a handful of position descriptions in the past few years.   I have now learned to recognize the unhealthy thinking patterns that necessarily follow the "ahah" moment of coming upon a dream job description and I'm better able to handle them. All I have to do is remind myself that the dream job description is an illusion.

Until you are in the position and you have experienced the work environment for a while, you can't possibly know that it's going to be your dream job.  The good news is that if and when I have to be on the job market, based on my habit of keeping an eye on job descriptions, I have a good sense of the possibilities and I (hopefully) wouldn't feel compelled to apply everywhere and accept the first job offer.  I feel better knowing that these potential dream job positions exist, I have the qualifications for them, and I am better prepared to apply for them if the need arises.

Dream jobs contemplation is best left to new graduates.  This doesn't preclude me from continuously revising, tweaking, and updating my aspirations and looking forward with great optimism.  Next time I come across a "dream job" description, I'll will smile and move on.

Here's the "dream job" that triggered this post:  Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning Specialist.  In the end, it made me realize that I needed to update my idea of a dream job and focus on more specific aspirations that I can realize within the context of my current occupation (or in parallel with it).