Keeping it all straight

Silly putty meets Mr. Potato Head
Over a week ago, I had a colleague of mine say to me:
"Do you write all of the things you learn down? It seems like you have a wealth of knowledge and I was wondering what your tricks are for keeping it all straight"
My response to her was that I don't write things down. I just keep the bits in my head. I told her that I read many different topics that interest me, and I listen to podcasts every day, to and from work. All of these things are absolutely true. But after I said that, it got me thinking if there was more to it. To be honest, I still don't have a great answer to the question. I do know that I listen, form opinions, engage, and adapt in topics that interest me. My assumption is that this is the basics how I obtain knowledge and get smarter on topics.

When I listen, I will often start with someone that is guru or expert in a topic. But I don't just listen to the experts, because the experts provide an opinion influenced by their experiences. That is not to say that the experts are not extremely knowledgeable, I just mean that that I don't only listen to the experts. I listen to clients, customers, and other people that are interested in the same topic. I listen to implementer's, practitioner's and end user perspectives. Each person has their own perspective, their own experiences, their own points of pain and desires. They are worthy of being heard.

As I am listening (and no, these are not done in a "waterfall process"), I start forming my own opinions, based on what I am hearing and in a similar fashion to the experts, these opinions are influenced by my personal experiences. These opinions are formed based on what I know has worked in the past and what I believe might make a difference going forward.

As I am forming my opinions and listening, I am engaging people, sharing my thoughts, sharing what I have heard, and bouncing new ideas off of people. Seeing what sticks and expecting and hoping that people will be willing to provide honest feedback and new direction. I continue to listen and form new opinions. With the engagement, my hope is that I either find others that are as passionate as I am, or that I find people that are willing to listen and over time become just as engaged.

To be able to listen, form opinions, and engage others, I find that being able to adapt is crucial. So as I listen, form opinions and engage others, I am continuously adapting. Without adapting, my fear is that the conversation, the collaboration, and the willingness to share will stop. If I don't adapt, the people that I had hoped to engage and become passionate will stop being engaged. The people that I have been listening to will not share their experiences and the opinions that are so valuable to what is in the future will dry up or become irrelevant.

After thinking about this question for over a week, I am grateful my colleague asked me the question. It got me to think beyond my day job and provided me an opportunity to form an own opinion. My hope is that I can get others to engage on this topic. So I will ask the question, how do your learn? What is the basis for your learning? Deep down, what keeps you engaged?

If I were to re-answer the question my colleague asked me a week ago, I know my answer would be different. I would say, because I am engaged and passionate about a subject, I know that by listening, forming opinions, and engaging others will help me form a better picture in my head that is much easier to remember and pass along to others. But without being able to adapt, no one will be there to hear what you have to say. thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. For those interested, the image is silly putty with some famous body parts on it, and is a creation of my daughter.