Sooo Lazy! – Mastering my Personal Knowledge 3

As I continue to progress through Harold Jarche’s (@hjarche) Personal Knowledge Mastery learning programme I am having to admit to myself that I have a major failing when it comes to the Sense part of the Seek>Sense>Share framework. I am sooo lazy!

Dave: “I need some information on this topic.”

Search engine: “Here’s the headline from a bias publication written in 1976”

Dave: “Answer found!”

This may be an exaggeration but unless I am truly invested in the subject my levels of research carried out to confirm validity and reliability are woefully inadequate. Couple this with ingrained trust for the initial source and the danger of my Share activity spreading unsupported opinions is increased.

As we continue to move from the centralised broadcast method of learning and development my (and the rest of the workforce’s) ability to curate effectively requires a greater commitment to deep diving on the knowledge that comes through our filter.

Harold’s programme (via Maria Popova at BrainPickings.org) re-introduced me to James T. Mangan and his 1936 book: You can do anything! As Maria points out, Mangan is not what most would consider a reliable source but his 14 Ways to Acquire Knowledge do provide some good pointers on how to approach and make the most of new knowledge. But where to start?

Of the 14, numbers 5 and 6 seemed most relevant:

5 – Walk Around It – the need to look wider around, and deeper into, the knowledge you are presented with.

6 – Experiment – the willingness to take the knowledge, apply it and explore the outcomes.

These are simple ideas; so simple that I find myself frustrated at how infrequently they get applied to all new knowledge.

I recognise that one of the factors contributing to this failure to apply, is my natural tendency to approach more than one subject at a time thus creating a sense of urgency that drives me to only take a shallow dive and potentially take an item at face value.

The bonus of using this blog to explore my understanding of the learning programme is the opportunity it affords me to focus on one thing and take the time to explore it. Putting my thoughts onto the screen and committing to release them into the world is making me check the knowledge at a much deeper level than I may have done.

Hopefully this ‘one thing at a time’ approach is enabling me to experiment more and get a better grasp of the subject, which should improve the reliability of my Share.

Do you focus on one subject at a time, or try to explore everything all at once? How much time do you dedicate to checking your understanding of new knowledge? Any advice for this explorer?

Image – shanghaistoneman (pixabay.com)

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Sooo lazy! – Mastering my Personal Knowledge 3 by David Wallace was written in London, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Please, tell me a story!

I am a voracious reader of fiction, capable of ploughing through a 400 page book in a day (if on my own and not doing anything else) and have a tendency to remember the content for a very long time. Research and academic texts* on the other hand have always been a struggle, the words running together as I try to transfer the knowledge from the densely filled page to my struggling-to-stay-awake brain.

This difficulty with factual works has had a detrimental effect on my ability to pursue academic recognition, making the writing of a simple assignment into a mountain of Snowdonian proportions.

Everyone I spoke to about the best way to approach research and academic text would recommend the well practiced dip-in method of searching the contents list to find what you wanted and briefly reading that part in isolation. And whilst I eventually taught myself to do this, it was never satisfying to my curiosity and failed to get information to stay in my head for longer than the time taken to finish the assignment.

However, this month brought a breakthrough. Last weekend I finished reading Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance by Matthew Syed which I managed to read cover-to-cover (ok, e-reader page to e-reader page) in a surprisingly short amount of time….for me! Not only did I read it with relative ease but also found it possible to quickly quote and paraphrase it to others in support of my viewpoint.

Which begs the question, why was this text different?

Was it because I find the subject interesting?

Maybe, but I am hugely passionate about Coaching and its benefits yet find it difficult to crack the sheen on many of the accusing spines looking down on me from the bookshelf.

Is it due to the fact that the findings support my own experience (talk about cognitive dissonance)?

Another good reason for sure, but I have at least four publications on leadership in my current line of sight that provide lots of support to my views on that subject and only one of them has been used extensively.

Wait! Of course! It’s the ‘density’ issue, after all it isn’t exactly a massive tome is it?

Possibly, but on my desk is a paperback with no more than 150 pages about another passion of mine (non-work) but I’m struggling to get past page 23.

Do you think it could be because it’s easy to see the real world application?

Interesting idea but, to be fair, most of the good books have case studies and anecdotes that enable us to visualise them in practice so I doubt it’s that.

The question of why this book was really troubling me so revisiting its pages the answer became clear and was something much more revealing about me and how I absorb information.

It’s a story!

The author managed to structure the content so that there is a clear progressive exploration of his findings. Whether by design or happy accident is unclear (I would like to believe it was a deliberate action) but he has managed to hit on the basic premise of a story; take the reader on a journey with a satisfying denouement.

Of course his writing style and use of language, carried over from the day job I’m sure, smooth the passage but in general it is the overall structure that seemed to engage and motivate me. Which in conjunction with the other reasons shown above made this a very accessible read for me.

In Learning and Development circles we talk about the importance of using stories to help people learn and I have read some works where individual sections follow this idea, but it seems to be rare for a whole publication to have an almost narrative flow.

Obviously, each to their own and I’m sure there will be some who find the work fails to engage them, or can not see the route I followed. But for me it worked and has managed to reignite my desire to read more factual texts and that can be no bad thing.

Also, it has reminded me to stop and think about the way we support people through learning and that embracing curation should not preclude us from considering the story we create.

So, this brings me back to my request: when you want me to learn.

Please, tell me a story!

* after a lengthy discussion with my academic and researcher colleagues we were still undecided as to whether Matthew’s book falls easily into either of these categories, but they will suffice for making my point……..maybe!

Image: Once upon a time – Steve Czajka

Creative Commons License
Please, tell me a story by David Wallace was written in London, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.