The Personal KM Primer

What would happen if we turned our operating model on its head? What if we focused on individuals instead of the organization? What if we took Davenport and Prusak at their word and worked to make a reality of their claim that “knowledge management must be part of everyone’s job”?  No more ossified knowledge management systems. No more bureaucratic KM departments.  No more expensive KM “solutions” offered by eager vendors. No more struggles to achieve minimal user adoption.

According to Steve Barth, there’s a significant upside to focusing on the individual knowledge worker:

It seems obvious, but it is not often said that knowledge management works best when knowledge workers take the initiative and responsibility for what they know, don’t know and need to know. Doing so not only makes the individual more valuable to the corporation, it also enhances the value of intellectual capital for the corporation.


Here’s the plan:  learn about personal knowledge management (or personal sensemaking, if that is an easier concept for you).   Think about what it takes to aggregate, filter and share content effectively.  Put these principles into practice for yourself and measure their impact on your work life.  And then think about how you could pass on this learning to every one of your colleagues.  Taking this grassroots approach, could you help each of your colleagues become so good at managing their information flows that their work processes and work product improve?  Could you find a way to improve the overall performance of your organization?

If you’re interested in learning more about personal KM/ personal sensemaking, please participate in the Twitter Chat on Personal Knowledge Management sponsored by  In addition, here are some other good introductions to the subject:

[Photo Credit: moeyknight]

12 thoughts on “The Personal KM Primer

  1. An excerpt from my post on this topic:…I’d also add that you don’t change the culture of the company, you create conditions to make a difference in an individuals experience. You give them an environment where they can more easily sensemake, and eventually this node connected environment will bring about a culture change without realising it…we hope…but it has to be a naturalistic approach.

    1. John -Cultural change can happen, but it takes a long time. In the meantime,you're right that we need to focus on creating the right conditions tofoster efficiency and efficacy.- Mary

  2. Mary, thanks so much for moderating the chat on as well as mentioning it in your post. Your advice as a board member is invaluable.Would love to see you blog about the experience of chatting and/or moderating on #KMers. Comparison with a webinar for knowledge sharing? Group phone call?.All the best,Swan

    1. Thanks so much, Rob. Moderating the KMers’ tweet chat was a ton of fun. Because the session flew by at such a fast and furious pace, I found that I couldn’t take it all in at the time and ended the session quite breathless. In fact, I’m still recuperating. As part of that recuperation, I do need to process the experience and the amazing insights shared by participants. And I may well need to blog the event in order to process it. So, stay tuned!

      – Mary

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