Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Personal knowledge management

posted on
April 9th, 2006

I am doing deep-dive spring-cleaning. Among other things, I have emptied the toilet-side magazine rack. One item on its way to recycling is the March/April Harvard Business Review. Oops. That’s the March/April 2005 issue. I always though I would get around to reading it.

One section I did have to read before chucking the mag was “Breakthrough Ideas for 2005.”

Let them all be power users, writes Tom Davenport. He begins with Drucker’s famous dictum: “To make knowledge work productive will be the great management task of this centruy, just as to make manual work productive was the great management task of the last century.” Tom asks, “If knowledge workers are the horses pulling the economic plow, have corporations maximized their horsepower? What have organizations done to help knowledge workers become more effective? Not much, it turns out.”

Corporations provide cell phones and software and email and more but do little to integrate them and nothing to help people get the most out of them. The result? Tom says only 1% of knowledge workers feel on top of their personal information. “In short, comapnies’ most valuable employees spend 40% of the workday doing something they don’t do well and so fail to extract the most from their stock in trade: knowledge.”

Kirthi Kalyanam and Monte Zweben say to Seek Validity, Not Reliability. Make a system more reliable (i.e. less unruly) and you make it less valid. To make processes more reliable, companies have to cut the number of variables and standardize measurements. What’s the diff? CRM is reliable; customer intimacy is valid. ERP is reliable; a robust strategy is valid. KM is reliable; creativity is valid. Meeting analysts’ quarterly targets is reliable; being a successful company is valid.

Jeffrey Rayport wrote about Demand-Side Innovation. It’s not about product features or functions but about how a company orchestrates its customer interacitons and relationships. This is echoed in John Hagel and JSB’s article on productive friction later in the same issue: learn from your interactions.

That’s enough breakthroughs for a Sunday morning. I have lots more to clean out.

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