This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

McGee on Building Your Knowledge Workshop

Jim McGee's latest piece in Enterprise Systems is Building Your Knowledge Workshop.

Knowledge workers perform craft work, and like any good craftsperson, you need a well-equipped workshop designed to meet the demands of your knowledge work.

In mentioning that the article was posted, Jim asked whether the analogy makes sense and what's in my workshop.

Given Jim's ongoing analogy of knowledge work as craft work, it only makes sense to think about the craft person's workshop.  Her workshop is an organized collection of tools, parts and scrap (experiments) that she relies upon to do the work in front of her, as well as improve her skill.

In thinking about knowledge work this way, the fallacy of "one tool to serve them all" becomes clear.  Sure, the big tools will still exist, but they won't be the only item in my arsenal -- so why do the promoters insist on talking about them this way?  What specific function(s) will the tool do?  Does it subsume other tools I have in my workshop?  Does it inter-operate with my existing tools (will these new bits fit my current drill, or do I need to buy another one just for this tool?)?

Another analogy could be the financial portfolio and importance of diversity.  Just as it is unwise to rely on one stock or mutual fund or even one sector, it is unwise to rely on a limited set of tools.  Diverse knowledge tools help me uncover knowledge and ideas where I might not have looked had I relied on The One Tool.

The important caveat here is that your workshop needs to support the work of the knowledge worker.  This means she has to know what that work is and have the ability to evaluate her tools in this light.  It may seem a little strange to suggest people may not know what their work is, but I suggest that many people end up doing work that doesn't have a connection to the overall goals of their organization.  They need to start there before figuring out how their workshop should be laid out.

As far as my own workshop, I've posted on that before under the titles of What is my PKM system and Some other tools in my space.  To update, I have been using MindManager more extensively as a note-taking tool.  I'm still not the most proficient with it, but MindManager is providing an interesting way to help me think about what I am hearing.  (Note: these files are not currently indexed by Google Desktop.)  I've pretty well dropped NewsGator in favor of Lektora or RSS Bandit (haven't decided) for weblog aggregation.  I have also dropped Outclass + Popfile for email SPAM filtering because they were clearly eating up resources on my machine.  I've reverted to using Outlook's default filtering rules plus turning on the filters at my host providers, which seems to be pretty effective.

Another interview

Armstrong almost retired in 1998