This blog is written by our guest blogger Jaap Pels. He attended the Masterclass of Harold Jarche on his Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and Seek>Sense>Share process.

The lead up and attendance of the Masterclass entice me to reflect: I realise that I permanently seek information on KM4Dev (Knowledge Management 4) #development in the broadest sense and share it scattered on #social #media and in #face to face #meetings. So a day with Harold #Jarche is a good opportunity to interact – listen, question, discuss and create #knowledge – around the #PKM model #Seek, #Sense, #Share (SSS). This is an occasion for some self-reflection too :-). A permanent and essential component of my seeking is that I use tags to trace my seeking and findings, even if or especially if they are haphazard.


KM stands for ‘knowledge management’ and PKM means ‘personal KM’ and that’s where and why I can link the SSS to my own KM-journey. In KM presentations I distinguish the following levels: the personal, organisational / institutional and network level. This implies that a first discourse could be on SSS and the non-personal levels. What if all staff members ‘SSS’ in an organisation?; What emerges? Is this noise, overload, a reservoir or soft leads, inspiration? How useful would this be? Where’s the added value?

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-17 om 17.09.40

So, pre-masterclass I started listing issues, thoughts, tags etc in my phone and that list I sent myself:

Jarche; Deconstructing; Crowd & Cloud; PKM and Cynefin; PKM and PelsKM; DIK schemas; De-contextualized (I hate this argument); Share for revenue / orgs are about NOT sharing; Sharing as service vs the charities / paywall; Sense making as group process; Quality control by a group / are opinions (share) a commodity?; PKM = behavior and many cannot write!; SSS is individual but for groups its the same; Problems on SSS / PKM in context of development.

After the Masterclass I used this collection of tags to assess and reflect on the added value of my participation. My first observation: at least half the topics (more than 50%) have been touched upon and or talked about. A further reflection is that the ‘sense making as group process’ like ‘shared content curation’ was most fun to talk about. It is in this exploration that PKM meets and merges with issues like organisational learning (OL) and networking in general.


A more general insight emerges: Seek, sense and share are obviously labels, categories after a card-calling-session, containers for all kind of (individual) activities. Whether all activities mentioned on these card would be about KM is questionable. For example ‘web-research’ would be ‘seek’ and ‘creating a newsletter’ would be the simple example of ‘(making) sense’, and ‘twittering the URL’ would be a form of ‘share’. An activity like AAR (After Action Review see here), reflection, I categorize as element of ‘sense’. At this point some discomfort emerges: SSS, sounds good, snappy, easy to remember like ABC (see here). Deconstruction of these terms and associated practices, especially the pivotal block ‘sense’ shows the need for context dependant reflection on activities; where, when, how to do what?

The issues PKM, SSS and crowds / clouds is all about the share side. We are talking social media too and thus bookmarking / tagging, blogging and RSS – the instruments for SSS – are paramount. Sharing requires and suggests that there must be an audience small or big that has to be nurtured and that through active and passive influence further seeking and sensing. Various models apply, aggregating / syndicating / Storify / automated search and import, co publishing on various platforms, etc.

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-17 om 17.24.28

Cynefin – a model for decision making by Snowden and referred to by Jarche; (see images above) – tickled my mind in relation to SSS because they both share the ‘sense’ making be it that in Cynefin domains complicated and simple sensing is a first activity. In these domains mentioned the search is generally done in a protocolised manner. (see it explained here). SSS fits best in the complex and chaotic domain where the Cynefin model suggests ‘probe’ or ‘act’ as synonymous to seek and ‘respond’ would entail SSS’s ‘share’. This conclusion supports my understanding that SSS is more suitable for knowledge workers in the primary process; the reason why an organisation exists. In the secondary process – the admin side – SSS has been ‘frozen’ and protocolised. So Cynefin tells me where to apply SSS.

Pels KM Framework

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-17 om 17.26.41

Also my KM framework (#PelsKM see here) entails SSS to the right and – upside down – on the left side; actually two sequential SSS pathways are looped (see second image). Research is seek, document sense and information (using web x.y) is to be shared or – loop two – seeked and disseminated / communicated (made sense for) and shared with a network of people / audience. So SSS is apt for individuals, but working together for an organisation or a network purpose needs more reflection on the processes involved.

DIK framework

Last, in the below Poindexter flow chart on action I see the SSS approach coming back when moving from analysis to execution (see also here). Seek is analysis, sense is sensemaking and share is part of pathfinding towards action.

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-17 om 17.29.22

To conclude

If one zooms in all context gets blurred. Indeed are these KM modeling tools, schemas and protocols de-contextualised. In other words, they will shift and shape give a context. Seeking information on rice will not fit sharing with space shuttle engineers. And sharing itself – certainly in organisations – needs a quality control (#power) and perhaps admittance fee to outputs / product. Sense making in French (#language) will not work in Nepal. And #access remains a big hurdle to take for many people on this globe. Last, SSS looks like ‘input, throughput, output’ for the brain.

During the afternoon we discussed around how SSS might work out in reality to conclude is a simple and straightforward 101 approach for knowledge workers to get work done and (social) tools plenty so get it on-(line). Rich insights and food for further thought have emerged from this masterclass. All in all a fruitful day spend.