Are you applying as fast as you are learning?

A few weeks go, Bill Taylor (@practicallyrad) asked: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Next question is: Are you applying as fast as you are learning?

Here’s what I’ve noticed for awhile since I’ve been on Twitter, but became a little more obvious to me in the last few weeks: Those of us who spend time on Twitter, are a lot more cognitively accelerated than those who are not.

Case in point: My Mix group I told you about. They are interesting people, and have a lot of things to talk about. But none of them have a Twitter account. Or a blog. And it dawned on me that by only meeting once per month, that this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

For example, One of the Co-Founders of Serena Healthcare, who also in the group, provided me with another insight. Here’s a guy who takes mindmap notes on his iPad as you are speaking. And if he doesn’t have his iPad, he takes notes on his laptop as you are explaining things to him. But you know what? For all his note taking abilities, he doesn’t have or want a Twitter account because he feels overwhelmed by its fast paced nature.


This guy’s mind moves fast. But apparently not fast enough.

So does that mean that we, ‘The Twitterati’, are a special bunch? I know some people who think so. They tell me that Twitter is for intellectuals, not for the lazy minded. Twitter is a fire-hose of knowledge no doubt (if you filter it becomes even more apparent), but that’s not where the discussion should stop.

From insight to action

Going back to Mr. Taylor’s question: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Twitter definitely helps us do that. But does it matter if we’re getting smarter everyday if we don’t apply the things we learn?

For me, the most important activity apart from learning, is doing something with that knowledge. Of course, this idea isn’t new. Since the rise of the internet we’ve been asking ourselves the same question. And it’s not easy. And this is one of the most obvious challenges of operating in a real-time on-demand world. How do we turn all this knowledge into insight and then act on it?

I don’t have a recipe. What I do know is that the easiest and fastest way to finding out is by experimenting. Want to know if something is going to work? Do something. Test it.

Or to put it more clearly: How fast can you move through your O.O.D.A. process?

As much as experts claim that Big Data will be save us from making stupid decisions, we have to accept that, for the most part, we’re acting on incomplete information. This takes great skill and great instincts. It takes intuition.

And the way you feed intuition, is by trying things. Experimenting.

Big Data isn’t going to recommend you that. It might inform your intuition, but it’s not going to make the decision for you.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

Why do I bring up Big Data? Because according to experts, analyzing “all this data” can tell us just what might happen. Pre-crime is an example of this. And there’s some truth to that. But machines can’t intuit feelings.

But Jorge, Big Data is the future. Just look at all those ‘Data Scientists aka Quants’ job postings. You’re crazy for not trusting data.

Yeah. I see them. But guess what? There’s only a few of them. Not everyone is a data geek. How many finance people (worthy of mention) do you know? Will a computer ever be able to intuit feelings?

This also brings up a dilemma: Trust the data or your instincts?

To see the contrasts between data driven innovation vs intuition driven innovation look no further than Google and Apple. Both relentless innovators (depending on who you ask) with completely different approaches. Google uses data to test and refine. Whereas Apple uses instincts. People look at them and ask: What’s the best approach?

In my opinion, there is no ‘best approach’. They are both different. Google uses it’s strength in data management to innovate. And Apple uses it’s strength in creating beautiful products that are easy to use. Each approach benefits how they think and how they’re organized (although lately Google has been doing some Apple-like things).

Anyway, the important point is that we’re learning at a faster rate than ever and its getting more difficult to take action. If anything, I see companies adopt a wait-and-see approach because they feel blindsided by all these on-going changes.

Today, real-time strategy is the norm (it has always been in my opinion). Your ability to find insights, and turn them into action faster and more effectively is a leadership imperative.

What are your thoughts? How do you act as fast as you are learning?

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