Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Knowledge Management”

Four ways to read differently to be successful

With the amount of great content available we need to examine our strategies for consuming information.

An article on Forbes.com today questions whether you are reading fast enough to be successful

I’ve found four things really help effective information consumption:

1. Always have a reading objective. If you’re reading a book on innovation, ask yourself what you want to be left with after reading it (a checklist for launching your own product/ a basic understanding etc.). For pleasure reading however, just give yourself permission to lose yourself.

2. Fit into the gaps of your day. Have Pocket on your smartphone with saved articles of interest for a spare minute on the subway. Have a great feed reader like FeeddlerPro on your homescreen for a quick scan while you’re in the ATM queue.

3. Switch ways of taking information in. Audio books or your Kindle’s text-to-speech function whilst you exercise, walk to work or do the gardening allows you to absorb information with less effort.

4. A speed-reading technique that works for me for quick consumption of information: read it back to front. Reverse-reading by conclusion, paragraph opening sentences and sub-headings seems to crank my attention up a level and gives me a faster understanding.

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Collective Intelligence as a ‘Killer App.’: Goldman Sachs

A few years back I read an unauthorised article on Goldman Sachs that highlighted one of their core strengths as their management information systems. I’ve been a little obsessed by them ever since, and was delighted to read the Sunday Times magazine 8/11/9 feature article ‘Inside the goldmine’. Of particular interest was the journalist, John Arlidge’s, observations on how the people inside Goldmans work together.

The importance of all specialist and management information systems to the firm is undoubted from a review of the Technology section of their corporate site.  ‘We think we make better decisions’, Liz Beshel Goldman’s Global Treasurer is quoted as saying ….. with $1 trillion a day flowing across the balance sheet. The “mark to market” pricing of the bank’s assets on a daily basis highlighted a trend that led to the decision by the bank to reduce its exposure to the housing and mortgage markets in advance of most other players. Its losses from the mortgage sector following the credit crunch were $1.7bn – lower than any other investment bank.

Arlidge notes however that Goldman is not about individual benefit: “it’s a team effort”. ‘When Goldman gets behind something, everyone in the giant hive wants a piece of the action’.

This reference to giant hive led me to Dušan Teodorović and Mauro Dell’ Orco’s paper on ‘Bee colony optimization – a cooperative learning approach…’ where they note that ‘various natural systems teach us that very simple individual organisms can create systems able to perform highly complex tasks by dynamically interacting with each other’, contrary to ‘a great number of traditional engineering models and algorithms used to solve complex problems [that] are based on control and centralisation.’

Obviously not composed of simple individual organisms, the conclusion that ‘these communication systems between individual insects contribute to the formation of the “collective intelligence” of the social insect colonies’, seemed to tie in to Arlidge’s observations. Read more…

Why Do Urgent But Less Important Tasks Drown Out The Really Important?

One of the things that continually amazes me is the split personality that exists within my brain (apologies for the mixed definitions here).

I can have a day like yesterday when I had fantastic conversations with clients and fellow industry CEOs which genuinely moved some of my thinking on. Our corporate strategy will develop positively as a result. I worked on some financial modelling that I’d long planned to. It gave me insights that have informed a whole other set of thoughts that will further impact strategy.

I then did some further reading that extended my thoughts on some issues and opened up whole realms of other thoughts.

Now, this post isn’t to wax lyrically about how effective I’ve been. The first point is that the time investment to achieve the above was probably 3-4 hours in total. Granted, there was travelling, but I worked every minute of that time. The second point is how I felt at the end of the day. Building on my last post, I felt that all the non-important tasks were rightly put in their place. That the siren call of the urgent was drowned by the sense of achievement from the important. I had done the right – commensurate with my responsibilities and accountabilities – things with my day.

Now don’t get me wrong. Today hasn’t been a bad day. Productive things have been done. But the challenge of ignoring the urgent task siren call has been remarkable.

I am left wondering whether it is a personality ‘type’ thing. Does my need for control/ power show itself in a restless frustration when I’m not all over my inbox and detailed task list? Does this undermine my trusted system? Have I just taken what I accept in to my action list too far, such that it’s seeping out at the edges?

I think an interesting flip to observe is that in the situation I am blogging about, my conscious/ other-than-conscious position is reversed. I know what I need to do: the important and less of the urgent. I’m kidnapped though by my other than consciousness.

And I don’t know why.

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