Knowledge Artisan

In a discussion with Marshall Kirkpatrick about his climate change custom search engine, he suggested I take Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery Online Workshop.  After looking at Harold’s blog, highlighting and tagging paragraphs from several posts, and exchanging emails with Harold I signed on.  Little did I know I was engaging with a master of mastery.

Harold’s posts on “the knowledge artisan” captured my attention.  Knowledge worker seems like a poor term to describe the work that consultants, product managers, customer success professionals, researchers, and marketers perform.  Harold’s definition of knowledge artisan captures the essence of skill and craft that goes into any form of knowledge work:

“An artisan is skilled in a craft and uses specialized tools or machinery.  Artisans were the dominant producers of goods before the Industrial Revolution. Knowledge artisans are similar to their pre-industrial counterparts, especially when it comes to tools. Knowledge artisans not only design the work, but they can do the work. It is not passed down an assembly line.”

As we reviewed our qualitative research that led to digital working styles, we realized the term “knowledge artisan” fit what we were hearing from product managers, UX strategy consultants, management consultants, startup CEOs, and customer success professionals.

We expanded the definition:

A knowledge artisan takes on important yet ill defined projects that require the selection of digital tools to research the needs, designs the unique work process and outcome, engages colleagues for collaboration, performs the work, and shares the work with their internal or external colleagues.

Due to the many unique projects that a knowledge artisan takes on during their professional career, it is difficult to keep track of the digital artifacts that they might need for future projects.  Clients are unwilling to fund the curation of these artifacts and there is never enough extra time.  Knowledge artisans need a “second brain.”

Tiago Forte brands his life’s work as Building a Second Brain.  Forte asserts that taking notes and processing of notes is the building block of a second brain:

“More than half the workforce today can be considered “knowledge workers”—professionals for whom knowledge is their most valuable asset, and who spend a majority of their time managing large amounts of information. In addition, no matter what our formal role is, all of us have to come up with new ideas, solve novel problems, and communicate with others effectively. We have to do these things regularly, reliably, not just once in a while.”  (pp. 22-23).

The knowledge artisan wants to be efficient and reuse as much relevant previous work as possible.  Yet, she wants to be efficient and meet the unique needs of each client and project. 

The TAI Group in their executive coaching training starts with their “Who’s There?” Platform.   Based on their extensive work in professional theater, the TAI Group starts with helping knowledge artisans understand who is there – their audience.  At the end of a training or a client engagement, they ask “Who’s there now?”

Product Managers are examples of knowledge artisans whether creating new products or generating road maps for existing products.  Each release is about creating something that hasn’t existed before  for an  ill defined audience (there is never enough time to exhaustively research the audience to know who’s there) that has yet to be defined goals.  

KnowNow is designed for the knowledge artisan.  KnowNow flexibly supports finding previous work artifacts and processes to serve as the starting point for defining the work on a new project.  Building on common cloud content platforms (Microsoft, Google, Slack, Dropbox) for enterprise and personal content and web search tools (Google, Bing), KnowNow brings previous and current content into shareable spaces for co-creation of new content.  KnowNow then serves as a common repository to share the knowledge artisan’s work product with the client so that the client can keep found things found.

Harold Jarche places the knowledge artisan in the locus between work teams, communities of practice and social networks.

As CEO and co-founder, Skip Walter is the visionary and driving force behind KnowNow and Factor10x.

Posted in Knowledge Management, Know Now, Personal Knowledge Mastery | Leave a comment

Are our cars getting too smart to be safe?

A while ago I wrote about my Honda CR-V watching me.

Last night, I got quite frightened when my CR-V decided to slam on the brakes while I was crossing railroad tracks in Seattle. Fortunately the car behind me didn’t hit me. I was able to continue on my journey.

The next morning I wanted to see if this was a general problem. I poked around on Google and found a series of articles on random braking and phantom braking:

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating popular Honda Accord sedans and CR-V SUVs for a possible glitch that, according to numerous driver complaints, sometimes causes the cars to randomly slam on the brakes without the driver touching the brake pedal.

“The vehicles are equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking systems that are supposed to automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to do it themselves in certain situations, such as a vehicle stopping in front of them or a pedestrian in the vehicle’s path. The systems are primarily designed to prevent, or at least reduce the severity of, rear end collisions. The vehicles being investigated are 2018 and 2019 model year Accords and 2017 to 2019 CR-Vs. There are a total of about 1.7 million of these vehicles currently on the road in US, according to NHTSA.

“NHTSA has received 278 complaints of sudden braking for no reason in Accords and CR-Vs. Six of these complaints allegedly involved collisions, some resulting in minor injury, according to NHTSA documents. Several people who submitted complaints to NHTSA said the problem occurred in their vehicles multiple times.”

Since this was a big deal safety issue for me, I went to the NHTSA website to file a report about phantom braking. I then called our dealer and asked to have our Honda CR-V checked out. I assumed that they could dump the log files in the car and see the phantom braking event.

Nope. Not so much.

After several hours of many different kinds of tests and checking several different databases, the very senior mechanic assured me there was no problem. I then explained the problem to him directly (without intermediaries). He laughed and shared “oh, now that you describe that you were driving in snow and ice, your radar unit is just dirty.”

We went and looked at the car and sure enough the radar unit was dirty.

He then shared those dreaded words “it is in the owners manual. You should regularly clean off your radar unit.” But I didn’t even know where the radar unit was located. And I sure never read the owners manual.

The mechanic’s explanation is when the radar unit gets dirty the radar waves are scattered and so the unit can detect an object that isn’t really there.

Oh great, so now every 50 miles in winter weather I’ve got to get out and clean my radar unit.

I don’t mind when my car is trying to be helpful by letting me know I need to stop for a cup of coffee. But I really mind when the car slams on the brakes without warning because it “phantomly” thinks there is an object in front of me.

I was also perplexed that none of the car’s log files captured that the brakes were automatically slammed on. When I got home I decided to explore what is going on with computer logging of errors on my “intelligent” car. I stumbled into a whole new world of new concepts that ranged from Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) to diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) to event data recorder (EDR) to journey data recorders.

As it turns out the EDRs only record a rolling 15-20 seconds of information. This information is only saved if there is a collision. Insurance companies tap into this data with something called telematics to save the EDR data to determine what kind of driver you are. The telematics device ties into your Onboard Diagnostics port.

However, as a consumer I don’t have access to the devices OR the processing software to make sense of the continuing stream of data from my “intelligent” car.

I was disappointed to learn that when the brakes were automatically applied no DTC was recorded so the Honda mechanics could not verify my problem in real life.

What a fascinating rabbit hole for learning about my car. But now I can’t trust my intelligent car and I have a new found fear that wasn’t there before in my ignorance of my car’s intelligence.

“But you should have read the owners manual to know about cleaning off the radar unit?” the mechanic said.

As I described this problem and the fix to my wife, she asked “how did you know what to search for to find something called “phantom braking”?” That is another story.

Life is complicated enough, but now I have to daily maintain something I am not sure I want.

Posted in Big Data, Innovation, User Experience | Leave a comment

Nordic Walking

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  1,030,000    Get Vaccinated! Stop the War in Ukraine!

As I walked across a wooden bridge over the marsh on Oak Island, NC, with my trusty hiking poles, a woman shared “are you promoting Nordic walking as the new exercise for older folks?”

Oak Island, NC marsh walkway

I chuckled and responded “Nope. After four surgeries to repair my left leg, I need these hiking poles to stay stable while I’m walking.”

As she turned she said “either way, Nordic Walking is really good exercise.”

Thanks to Google, it turns out Nordic Walking is a thing:

“Have you ever noticed people out walking with poles even on flat surfaces and wondered why they are doing it? This is known as Nordic walking, which is a little bit like cross country skiing but without the snow.

“Walking with poles was first developed in Scandinavia and came to central Europe about 20 years ago. For some reason, it has not become particularly popular even though it has many health benefits.”

I had no idea there were at least seven health benefits to Nordic Walking:

      • You burn more calories.
      • It may reduce limb pain.
      • Improves upper body strength.
      • Increases core strength.
      • Reduces risk of falling.
      • Boosts cardiovascular health.
      • You can walk faster.

I can attest to the first six items. Unfortunately, after my surgeries I have to walk with care so I walk much slower than before my handicap.

Nordic walking in the Bainbridge Island woods and Arches National Park

The sun is out. It is a cool summer day. Time for some Nordic walking to get six out of the seven health benefits.

Posted in Health Care, Health Coaching, National Parks, Nature, Resilience | 4 Comments

If a tree falls?

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  1,030,000    Get Vaccinated! Stop the War in Ukraine!

One of the joys of walking the many nature trails on Bainbridge Island is finding gnome homes.

My favorite is Gnome Home No. 2 which is located on the Bluff Trail. I pass by the gnome residence several times a week.

Left: Original tree with large fungi Right: Addition of Gnome Home No. 2

Usually I have my head down to watch for rocks and roots. Today, I noticed that my favorite gnome homes wasn’t on the right tree.

New location for Gnome Home No. 2

Then I noticed a tree down across the path.

The tree that fell had the two large fungi that the gnome home lived between. Fortunately, the tree fell in such a way that the gnome home wasn’t crushed.

Left: Fallen gnome home tree Middle: Fungi fell right side up Right: Split tree

Thank you to the kind path walker who relocated the gnome home to a stronger tree.

A tree fell. The gnome home survived.

Posted in Exercise, Lifelet, Nature | Tagged | Leave a comment

Celebrating Memorial Day 2022 with Nature

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  1,001,313         Get Vaccinated! Stop the War in Ukraine!

Elwha River Bridge Washout

Memorial Day “dawned” gray and rainy (like most of the last six months). I enticed my bride into taking a drive to Sequim, WA, which resides in the sun shadow of the Olympic Mountains in hopes of getting a little sunshine on this dreary day.

We decided to go to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. As we left the parking lot, we both realized that we had never taken this particular trail. We were in for a treat of discovery.

Dungeness Spit from the bluff trail overlooking the beach.

As we arrived on the beach, the views were expansive in every direction. There is something so delightful about walking through a Pacific Northwest moss covered forest and then stepping out into the open spaces of a beach.

Enlarge the photo to see the framed lighthouse in the distance.

It is a five mile hike to the Lighthouse and we were ill prepared for a long hike on the sand. We just stopped and listened to the soothing sounds from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea. It is also weird looking at our cellphone and seeing the coverage now coming from Canada.

As we looked in each direction, a strange sound emerged from the gentle waves.

If you listen as the waves recede, you can hear the small pebbles clinking off other pebbles as they move down the incline. The “rock chimes” are mesmerizing.

We then went in search of a road that would take us to the mouth of the Elwha River. I’ve read so much about how quickly the Elwha River basin has recovered after the removal of the two dams.

Mouth of the Elwha River

We looked on our map and drove through several backroads, but we couldn’t find a drivable path to the river mouth. We’ll save this for a hiking trip later this summer.

My second choice was to drive up to the ranger cabin where many moons ago I hiked up the back side of Hurricane Ridge. Clearly, I had not been reading the newspaper since the dams had been removed. Every couple of years the river washes the road out to you have to stop a mile before the washed out bridge and walk. The photo at the start of this blog is where the bridge used to be.

On the walk up the road we came to a horse and mule corral.

Working horses and mules of the Olympic National Park

These animals can be found during the summer as part of working parties to repair the many miles of trails in the park.

My favorite sound when hiking in the mountains comes from the rapidly moving water of a rocky river. We stopped and listened at each vista along the way to the washed out bridge.

Getting our 10,000 steps in during the two hikes worked up an appetite. We were both ready for some seafood. We stopped at the Hook & Line Pub where I just had to have some Dungeness Crabcakes.

Even though we only had a few sun breaks, we had a great time walking trails we had not been on before.

The walks were a great day to celebrate the sacrifices of the many so that we could be free to enjoy the beauty of our national parks. Very thankful for the many that serve and sacrifice for our country.

Posted in Citizen, Exercise, Explorations, Learning, National Parks, Nature, Observing | Leave a comment

Commonplace Book

Somewhere in the last couple of years I came across the idea of commonplace books.

“Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century. Such books are similar to scrapbooks filled with items of many kinds: sententiae (often with the compiler’s responses), notes, proverbsadagesaphorismsmaxims, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, prayers, legal formulas, and recipes. Entries are most often organized under subject headings[1] and differ functionally from journals or diaries, which are chronological and introspective.”[2] Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts; sometimes they were required of young women as evidence of their mastery of social roles and as demonstrations of the correctness of their upbringing.[3] They became significant in Early Modern Europe.”

Thanks to a recommendation from my writing colleague, David Socha, I adopted the iPad App GoodNotes.  As I reflect on how I use GoodNotes, I realize that every day I am adding to my commonplace book.  My GoodNotes are my repository of quotes from my many Kindle books, handwriting scratches of ideas that I want to pursue, highlights of the digital artifacts I copy and paste, and photos of relevant daily life.  My GoodNotes allow me to include whole articles or even PDF books.  

Best of all everything in my GoodNotes commonplace book is searchable.  Even my hen scratching. 

GoodNotes Commonplace Book

Searching for “medium” within my commonplace book I find my handwriting magically highlighted.

Searching my commonplace book

The best part of having my iPad GoodNotes digital commonplace book along with an Apple Pencil is that my notes are always by my side. With my 2500 kindle books available in the same device, I can immediately copy relevant highlights and quotes (with attributions) into my commonplace book.

I can also include “find organize visualize publish artifacts” from our software tool KnowNow that I used to answer a homework assignment from Harold Jarche‘s Personal Knowledge Mastery Class. One of the homework assignments was to list the people I go to for different types of advice in my network.

Social network of colleagues I seek advice from

As I work my way through Matt Giaro‘s notes taking course, I see that my commonplace book is only doing a part of the virtuous cycle of consumption, collect, connect and create. With my commonplace book I am doing a good job of consuming and collecting, but not so good a job of connecting and creating.

With our KnowNow software we identified five different digital working styles. One of those working styles is NotesLinking. My commonplace book is a good starting point for solving for NotesLinking. These blog posts are a step along the way of creating more value out of my notes. But I still rely on my brain’s neural links to connect these disparate notes in my commonplace book.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a tool that automatically connected the bricolage of my commonplace book into a more organized set of notes like with the Zettelkasten method.

Who do I talk with in my social network about “innovation”?

With tools like Readwise capturing all of my highlights and notes and copying them to Evernote, the digital artifacts for what I want to “connect and create” are readily available.

Kindle Highlights copied through Readwise to Evernote

The beauty of a digital commonplace book when augmented by content analytics and visual analytics is that I can see my research actions and combine them and recombine them to publish and share my insights with colleagues.

Posted in Amazon Kindle, Content with Context, Curation, Knowledge Management, Learning, Relationship Capital | Leave a comment

I was wrong

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  974,000         Get Vaccinated! Stop the War in Ukraine!

I wrote the following to my family a few weeks ago in the depths of depression for having to fight for democracy in America again and watching Ukraine fight for its democratic freedom.

I thought when President Obama was elected, it was a signal that America had finally overcome racism.
I was wrong.
I thought when same sex marriage was legislated, that respect for the LGBTQ community was alive and well in America.
I was wrong.
I thought when Trump was elected and then defeated, it was a signal that America finally woke up from the dire threat to our democracy.
I was wrong.
I never thought I would see another war in Europe and the Cold War restarted.
I was wrong.
I never thought I would ever see any elected federal official support a Russian fascist leader instead of an elected American president.
I was wrong.
I never thought with all the evidence of climate change that elected officials would do absolutely nothing.
I was wrong.
I never thought I would see an entire political party in the US ignore the Rule of Law and foment sedition.
I was wrong.
I never thought I would see the death of civility in the United States Senate.
I was wrong.
I never ever thought I would have to worry about a nuclear war again.
I was wrong.

And then something comes along in the midst of despair with the energy and flair and beauty of Senator Cory Booker in his support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Eugene Robinson captured the grace of Booker in this article:

“The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have been rife with racism, sexism, feigned outrage and general ugliness. But Wednesday’s proceedings brought one moment of such powerful eloquence that it brought Jackson, and me, to tears. Thank you, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), for speaking truth and for celebrating this historic moment as it deserves to be marked….

“The senator noted that Jackson’s parents, despite the oppressive racial discrimination of their times, “didn’t stop loving this country, even though this country didn’t love them back.” He quoted from the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” He spoke of the struggles of Irish and Chinese immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, who also loved this country and had to demand that it love them in return. He recounted the life story of Harriet Tubman and told of how she looked up at the North Star as a harbinger of hope. “Today you’re my star,” he told Jackson. “You are my harbinger of hope.”

The attacks from Republicans would continue, Booker said. “But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that?” Booker’s voice cracked with emotion. “Because you’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”

Because you are here. Because I am here.

Such simple words.

Posted in Citizen, Climate Change, Reflecting | 4 Comments

Lifelong Learning

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  966,000         Get Vaccinated! Stop the War in Ukraine!

After two years of reading a lot of escapist mystery novels to survive Covid isolation, I decided it was time to get back to learning. I’ve been spending a lot of time researching notes taking and personal knowledge management in general and in the context of what makes a powerful software product development team.

I love the diversity of learning options that have blossomed over the last twenty years. Here are a few of the things I signed up for:

  • Shreyas Doshi Twitter Superfollowing – I love the advice that Shreyas shares about product management and decided I needed more in depth understanding of his experience until he gets his book published.
  • Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Management Course and his Perpetual Beta ebook will get me back to understanding how PKM has evolved over the last ten years.
  • Matt Giaro‘s course on note taking – the free 7-day email course turned into a month long course and an hour of consulting
  • Steven Johnson’s Adjacent Possible newsletter – Johnson is one of my favorite authors and I am loving his views expressed in this newsletter
  • Since so many articles I am reading and courses I am taking keep pointing back to the Harvard Business Review, I have re-subscribed to this news letter.
  • In preparing for a lecture on product design and strategy for an Indiana University graduate course guest lecture, I came across Taylor Pearson’s “The Ultimate Guide to the OODA Loop”. It is one of the best summaries of John Boyd‘s work I have come across so I signed up for Pearson’s newsletter The Interesting Times.

In addition to the above I continue to read my Kindle books on my iPad with lots of note taking in Goodnotes.

  • Lila by Robert Pirsig. In researching Zettelkasten as a notes taking method, I realized that I had encountered something similar before in Pirsig’s book. Pirsig’s pursuit of the Metaphysics of Quality provides a rich context for creating trays of slip notes to keep his thoughts organized.
  • On the Problem of Empathy by Edith Stein recommended to me by Sharon Stanley. Empathy is showing up a lot in my product management and UX news feeds so I thought I would go back to some of the classic works on empathy.
  • Red Notice by Bill Browder. I read Browder’s book before the Ukraine War started. Browder provides a rich context to the lengths that Putin will go to with lying and stealing. Browder was behind the push to pass the Magnitsky Act. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of Putin and want to follow the money behind the Ukraine war, it is worth following Bill Browder on Twitter (@billbrowder).
  • The Innovation Journey by Andrew van de Ven. Here are some notes from Innovation Journey.
Goodnotes on the iPad
Core Innovation Concepts and Relationships for Tracking in Product Development

In addition to the content learning associated with the above electronic media, I am trying to learn new methods of note taking. Today, I have notes scattered through out many different apps. In Giaro’s free course he asked us to do the following exercise:

​Do you see how every lesson start building on each other and how this course starts finally making sense?

Most of us are champions when it comes to adding more and more notes in our system, without really thinking if the ecosystem we’ve built can support all this information.

It’s like building a 10 storey house on foundations that can only support one floor.
Don’t be astonished if the building collapses.

It’s exactly the same thing with our note-taking.

Stop using multiple apps.

What apps are you currently using?
Hit reply and let me know.

Matt Giaro

My response was:

Email response to Matt Giaro

As you might imagine, Matt Giaro had a good laugh at my notes taking and shared that he had a course for me.

My challenge with learning is not the consumption phase, but trying to turn these disparate pieces of information into learning and hopefully applied knowledge.

I will keep you posted on how the courses progress and how my behaviors change as the result of the learning. More importantly, I look forward to seeing if this learning and behavior changes result in business impact.

Posted in Knowledge Management, Learning, Lifelogging | Leave a comment

Daily Moment of Zen: Sunrise Edition

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  966,000                    Get Vaccinated

Sunrise over Seattle 3/13/22

Capturing the sunrise every day for the last three years is a delightful way to watch the world go by here in Southeast Alasks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Daily Moment of Zen: Heron Edition

Covid Deaths in U.S.:  580,000                    Get Vaccinated!

The delight of our evening walks is seeing the wildlife on Bainbridge Island.  The blue herons are always an attention grabber.

Posted in Daily Moment of Zen | Leave a comment