Personal KM and The Brain – Context Tools and Perception

Personal KM – What we think we know. 

Personal KM is now becoming an area of great interest for a number of reasons.   We are creating more information than ever before and from a business perspective it is difficult to understand and manage this information in context.  That being said, information and “data” is of great value.  A few years ago my team introduced some simple patterns of collaboration in order to scope and provide additional context on information relative to a project or program.   One of the first activities of the information management and gathering process is to set out and “discover” what is going on.  Where are we in the organization? What people are involved in a project?  What are the considerations relative to governance?  What is the project or program looking to achieve?  What does a successful outcome look like?   It is a lot of questions but fundamentally the questions drive more questions that will eventually shape what all of the information may mean to YOU(perception).   How are you affected(perception)?  What role and responsibility do you really have relative to what the project or program believes(perception)?  What can you do (perception)?   What tools can you use(awareness)?  What information in available to you(awareness)?  More and more questions and answers. When I start showing people architectures representing these concepts, they overwhelmingly respond in a similar way.   They seem to feel that for their specific work, that they don’t really need a pattern or that they already understand where they are relative to the program.  This is where Personal KM and perception comes into play and how important it is to people as individuals and the organizations they work for.  The next few areas of this blog will show you why.

Awareness:

This isn’t new but if you haven’t seen this please take a look at this 1 minute video before moving on.

What you think you know and what you know:

If you have watched the video, you may now be wondering.. what else am I missing? Once your brain has been notified that other things are happening in your world that you need to potentially pay attention to, you can be aware of these hidden ghosts and start to deal with them.   The key to awareness is knowing that we aren’t aware and looking for mechanisms and others to help raise our level of awareness.  At this moment in our humanity, it isn’t likely that we will be fully aware of any given situation.

Personal KM – Tacit Exchange:

When we learn something on a personal level we file it away and may not feel a need to share it with others.  Research indicates that Organization Knowledge Management (OKM) starts with Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). HKPKMResearch further indicates that “The basic concept of formalizing software agents to mediate the work processes usually handled by the human counterpart is by having the human counterpart to delegate the tasks to a software agent or multiple software agents. The conceptual model for agent-mediated research work processes commonly handled by human knowledge worker”  This is what the figure above is showing. The bottom line is that we are looking to automate or transfer as much information as we can to a system or systems of systems for reuse.  Additionally, people must enter information that they may not believe (perception) would be important and further they may not have incentive to share this personal information.  Keep in that we as people only know what we think we know and we may also know things that we may not realize that we know. 

More Tools:

I am asked often what tools I use for PKM and why I use them.  Going back to the original discussion point concerning the collaboration pattern, if I didn’t use tools and techniques , the pattern and information associated would be less valuable. The information becomes more valuable because of the conversion of information from tacit to explicit and because the explicit information is further validated by more than one person.  This increases the likelihood of greater awareness.  I generally use a few tools but the primary tool is “TheBrain.”Howietodacenter The Brain is a PKM tool that enables users to take traditional mind mapping to new level. This tool specifically allows for users to define objects and relationships quickly and tag those objects textually and visually. The focus on the “Plex” which is the main interface that allows the user to focus on the relationships on the central node. The central node is the place where the user pays attention. The relationships branch off in parent, child and jump relationships that can have one to many or many to many connections. Additionally the user can create “link types” and differentiate linkages by visual and textual methods. Through the use of tagging, visual line thickness, color and pictures the view in the Plex allows users to have a better understanding of the meaning behind the relationships. The Brain tool enables a multidimensional visual representation of objects and their relationships through a 2 dimensional interface. This interface allows for “stacking” which can increase the actual extensibility of the user experience into the 3rd dimension. This is important to understand because the relationships you see in the plex on a node or object may have other relationships behind them. When the human interacts with the interface and changes the view, the nature of these hidden relationships is revealed. Steve Zeoli has a great blog about his use of this tool (Welcome to Sherwood) where he makes very clear points on the brain and its uses.  Steve notes:

 Here are the ways you can associate information to a single Thought in TheBrain:

  1. Link child Thoughts — topics that flow from the Thought.
  2. Link parent Thoughts — topics from which the Thought flows.
  3. Link related or jump Thoughts — topics related in an unhierarchical way.
  4. Add notes in the Note tool.
  5. Attach as many URLs as you’d like.
  6. Attach almost any type of file: spreadsheets, text documents, PDFs, pictures, etc.
  7. Give the Thought a Type — make all urgent Thoughts red, for example.
  8. Give the Thought multiple Tags — Tags allow you to quickly find Thoughts that share a Tag.
  9. Use the calendar to associate date-specific events.
  10. Use links to define special relationships among the data.

Falling Short…

More context is always needed.   I have to always add tags and link types and relationships. I have used a blend between freemind or regular mind maps and The Brain for many years. Mind maps and Concept maps show a map view as if we are looking at a road map from the top down.  The Brain is almost like a GPS, where you are in the map and driving through it waypoint to waypoint.  For me, it doesn’t go far enough and there is a gap between my needs and what is available.  I would like to see or identify a node and from there in that view I would like to develop or define relationships as many to many or many to one.   I would like to query on that node to further define context or visually move the node and either perform some “what if” analysis or just visually see the connections from any x y z axis perspective.  I would like nodes themselves to be three dimensional, with the ability to pin relationships on any one area of the node.   I would like the tool to essentially show mapping over time and have more integrated functions with the calendar.    There are other areas that are gaps like when you cut and paste information or import /export.   I could go on about what I would like to see but with all the gaps in capability, it is the best thing for me to use right now. It does help me identify or become aware of connections that I would have previously overlooked.

Visual Understanding Environment 

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VUE LINK

changefatigue example

http://www.studygs.net/mapping/ Concept mapping –

Concept maps have their origin in the work of David Ausubel
(advanced organizers). The technique of concept mapping was developed by Joseph D Novak at Cornell. “Concept maps have their origin in the learning movement called constructivism. In particular, constructivists hold that prior knowledge is used as a framework to learn new knowledge. In essence, how we think influences how and what we learn. Concept maps identify the way we think, the way we see relationships between knowledge.” Grayson H. Walker, Concept Mapping and Curriculum Design, Teaching Resource Center, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

I use concept maps:

It is always (people, process, methods and tools) but I do love tools.  I use VUE in the same way as these guys use CMAPS at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola Fl, 32502.

I also use a lot of other tools (as needed), if you want a list or have questions please email me.  

Back to the start:

If you are interested, here (KM Institute Final) is the hand out we gave during our talk at the KM Institute.  It talks a little about the collaboration pattern and our use of  The Brain.

We need PKM and we further need to filter and publish relevent information to our businesses or organizations.   This is very important to understand because WE ultimately decide what we are willing to put into the system and what WE are willing to share.  This is all about perception and perspective relative to the information.  I can think of many reasons why people would choose to hold off on sharing.  These are the concepts that we need to consider moving forward.   Most importantly, we need each other help validate what we think we know relative to what the group may think or what the facts are.

I want to point out that I believe an understanding of awareness, behavior modification, km drivers and tools as enablers will help increase real data value.  Personal KM and Perception enhancement may be a next step to KM!

This behavior brings a new level of fidelity to knowledge management and will help us deal with what is as opposed to what we believe.

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