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Sense-making through conversation

One of our clients referred me to a post by Nick Milton on another great Boston square that pulls “apart the KM world on dimensions of Knowledge Push and Knowledge Pull (which you might call “Sharing” and “seeking”), and the dimensions of Explicit and Tacit. We get 4 quadrants, which we could call Ask, Tell, Search, Share.”

The similarity to PKM with its seek/sense/share processes had me look back on that for any additional insights from Nick’s Boston square (my additions in red).

Sense-making consists of both asking and telling. It’s a continuing series of conversations. We know that conversation is the main way that tacit knowledge gets shared. So we continuously seek out explicit knowledge, in the form of written work or other knowledge artifacts left by others. We then have conversations around these artifacts to make sense of them. Finally, we share new, explicit knowledge artifacts which then grow our bodies of knowledge. Sharing closes the circle, because being a personal knowledge manager is every professional’s part of the social learning contract.

This square is a good model to look at our own processes. Is the (limited) time we spend on PKM well balanced between the four activities? Missing one of them completely would destroy most of the value in any PKM process. Seeking and sharing information without any conversation around it would only serve to create additional noise with no signal. It’s the individual context, gained through conversations, that provides the real value. This is why narrating our work and making it transparent (shareable) is so important in the creative, networked workplace. It’s how the organization makes sense, from multiple conversations.

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