Knowmad: enterprise 2.0 professionals and their repercussion on working cultures

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Knowmad could be understood to mean “knowledge mad” but, given that the ability par excellence that represents this type of professional is flexibility, it actual means “nomad of knowledge”. This is an interesting concept, because it indicates that these people have knowledge that gives them an advantage over the competition. At the same time this is worrying for companies. Given that this knowledge does not remain within the organization, but moves with the professional (who in the flexicurity era must be used to migrating from one job to another), it becomes a fungible asset.

Characteristics of a “knowmad”

Knowmads are knowledge professionals and promoters of innovation who network, are incredibly flexible and who work on their own professional development. More often than expected, I come across their antithesis: people who over the last few years have done no continuous training nor explored outside their immediate work environment. They are professional obsoletes who are disoriented and/or outside the current market.

If you want to know whether you’re a knowmad or you want to become one, the keys for this type of professional are:

    • Forming an active part of communities and social networks: participating, sharing and generating knowledge.
    • Actively collaborating but maintaining individuality: they don’t take being told what to do, because they experience a true learning process.
    • Adapting to different contexts from which they learn, taking away what they find most useful.
    • Using digital tools to enhance their way of doing things.
    • Taking risks and not being afraid of failure: they live with the uncertainty of the learning process and of the relationships arising from marked systems.
    • Building knowledge based on gathering information and experiences, transforming ideas and processes in an innovative way.

They are also know as “knowledge entrepreneurs”. Some authors talk of the generation of knowmads, but in reality it has nothing to do with age, but with attitude and the motivation to search for resources that enable you to progress in accordance with the unwritten guidelines for the current economic system, or without them. In her book The Future of Work is Here, Lynda Gratton states that we are facing a new paradigm, where the need of professionals to reinvent the actual profession is a reality.

Breeding ground and consequences for the knowmad style

Like it or not our society, and the way of learning and working in it, is changing at a frenzied pace. Therefore, becoming a knowmad may even be an obligation for all those who want to know how to manage what this change involves, adapting ourselves to it using positive strategies. Somehow, the evolution represented by technology development and its use in relationships and learning, encourages us to continually make an effort to learn new working tools.

This is what John Moravec, one of the promoters of the knowmad concept, and Cristóbal Cobo, mean when they refer to invisible learning; in other words, what occurs in the space between technology and knowledge. Knowmads, as experts in knowledge management, create their own learning environments, Personal Learning Environments (PLE), from Personal Learning Networks (PLN), which work as sources of knowledge (e.g.: blogs, social networks, wikis, etc). This new working culture also materializes in a transformation of working scenarios (e.g.: coworking spaces, crowdsourcing ecosystems, etc.) where mobility, collaboration and hyperconnectivity coexist.

Businesses need to involve independent people who form open networks so that knowledge flows. Having said all this, enterprise 2.0’s should review and update their organization to include the talents of this new human capital, establishing new systems, such as horizontal working networks, instead of rigid structures.

Sara Jurado is a psychologist specialized in career counseling and social media for professional development. She currently works as a Professional Counselor at Barcelona Activa.