Just Seven Things

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

Archive for the tag “Learning”

Pay Attention to Your Attention

The Hawthorne effect refers to a study in 1924 on the effects of the changes in working conditions (lighting/ cleanliness etc.) on the productivity of a set of factory workers. One potential conclusion from the study was that the biggest impact on productivity was the act of being studied. Productivity slumped whenever the studies concluded.

Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell in Human Givens argue that the giving and receiving of ‘attention’ is a basic human need. They refer to Idries Shah and his studies when they note that ‘many social and commercial transactions are in fact disguised attention situations’. Shah suggested that humanity could benefit enormously by ‘studying the attracting, extending and reception, as well as the interchange, of attention’:

‘If individuals are unaware that what is driving them in certain circumstances is the demanding, extending or exchange of attention, believing they are engaged in something else – such as learning, informing, helping, buying or selling – they are likely to be less efficient in achieving their ends’

So by remaining mindful of the currency of attention in your interactions with others, you can achieve your goals more effectively. Since I read this, it’s had a big impact. Rather than necessarily re-interpreting all situations – I think we are well developed in understanding clear attention needs and giving – it has made me more aware of how to respond better to the clear ‘needy’ situations (mine and others). I have tried not to interpret the interaction as being anything other than need driven. I have found that subtlety unlocks  a much better response in me to both my own needs and others. The act of focusing on the ‘attention transaction’ has also has enabled me to better understand what’s really driving my needs. And then do something about them.

Where the whole area gets really exciting is when you consider it within this context of learning. Griffin & Tyrrell argue that it is clear in the attention exchange that we suspend our critical faculty. It is something we have to do if we are consider and absorb new patterns of information:

‘When attention is focused and we grasp what someone is telling us in an uncritical way, we have absorbed a pattern at an unconscious level. Its full meaning and ramifications may not become apparent at once but, once the pattern is in the brain, it will affect future actions and add to the sum total of our knowledge. Knowledge only becomes real in action, when it is experienced. This is how we learn’

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The Role of Reading and Knowledge in Personal Development

My thoughts keep occasionally swirling back to this topic. A number of reasons:

1. I’m always interested in further developing my knowledge

2. I’m always seeking the most effective way of doing things, including (1) above

3. I’m always challenging myself on how I’m currently approaching things.

I’m trying to put the deliberate practice into my own self development.

In the series of talks that I’ve been doing at Madgex for the ideas and learnings programme, I’ve had a purpose or focus for my learning. The research and knowledge gathering that I’ve done has been done against an operational need.

There seemed to be a view that it was possible to get too big for reading that has gnawed at me since I wrote the post. I’m still hoping that I misinterpreted the article I read.

All of these things together have lead me to wonder two things:

1. Do the consumers of information always need an ‘operative or operational purpose’ to maximise the effectiveness of their consumption and subsequent usage. Knowledge in advance of need being an inefficient use of time?

2. Does the nature of both academic and mainstream publishing mean that to have a chance of being published there has to be a niche focus or positioning? That the lack of breadth to subject matter is a direct result of a bias for differentiation? (with due reference to a conversation with C. Turner for prompting this thought)

The impact that this has on learning and personal development is interesting. Does the effort that we have to put into assimilating the pockets of information aid learning by increasing engagement through the value add of linkage?

To be frank, I think I might be off on one ;-)

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Google and Knowledge Management

Digging through some old articles (old! – last October 2007. Getting too hooked to webtime)

Eric Schmidt in October at Google’s annual analyst meeting gave an interesting view on a potential future of knowledge management. He said that social networks as a phenomenon were very real. Although it was ‘too early to say’ whether this would influence the underlying ‘information structure’ of the internet as users start to organise and access more information through the power of their social connections.

So a future where a further parameter to the Google search algorithms is based on your accumulated profile information as held by Google. Matched through your social network connections to the information snipped/ tagged or recommended by your ‘friends’?

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