PKM and the social intranets

After taking the highly valuable PKM in 40 days workshop, led by Harold Jarche, I have started thinking about applying these ideas to the use of social intranets. PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Mastery. Basically, it aims to help us take control of our professional development by applying the Seek-Sense-Share framework. The world and its information flow becomes more complex each day, also inside companies. PKM could help make sense of this, instead of adding to the stress.

Meanwhile, the use of social intranet software is becoming the norm. Basically, the vendors say their software helps foster collaboration, innovation, break silos, and more. All this sounds good, but I think the software only takes you 20% of the journey. The 80% of the potential lies in make the end users understand the potential, and then use it. It must fit the culture, and how people are comfortable working.

When we launched a social intranet, the uptake of the social Twitter-like features was slow. Yes, we educated people. Yes, we made it available to everyone. Yes, we paved the way and used it ourselves. But people hesitated. “What should I share with all?”. “Why should I share to all?” were two usual questions. And people felt too busy to post in the social forums. Or potentially awkward (“Why ask openly for something I can search for quickly, or already should know?”). Instead they kept mostly to the blogs and wikis, which are more familiar.

This is where PKM and the social intranets could be a way forward. Some basic ideas I want to explore going forward are:

  • How can an intranet break organizational and work related silos? All intranet software seem to include formal organisation directories, and formal team/project sites. But how can an intranet support more open and spontaneous cooperation, based on themes, interests, and curated content from the users?
  • Which concrete intranet tools should be available to support Seek-Sense-Share? All intranet software seem strong on the last Share part using blogs, feeds, and comments. Tools to support the Search part could be the search function, notifications, RSS web parts, and wikis for personal or mutual content creation. Tools to support Sense could be metadata, tags, discussion forums, and more.
  • When should the employees use which social tool on the intranet? How do we guide users so they feel informed and comfortable in each step? Not all want to share openly, but they might be interested in personal content curation for their own sake.

I hope PKM can be a way to foster cooperation, break silos, and help colleagues with Seek and Sense, and not only Share, which comes last.

Please see this as a start, and please pitch in with your ideas. It is a half-baked idea (thanks Harold for the expression), but hopefully on its way to be more baked.

Author: Patrik Bergman

Privately: Father, husband, vegetarian, and reader of Dostoyevsky. Professionally: Works as Communications Manager at

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