Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Consumption for implementation

Any of us who have had to read for comprehension in a class, or when studying understand that it takes a significant amount more time then reading.   How many times have you read an email, just to stop and say, wait a second I just read something that caught my eye, let me go back and read the whole thing again.
Without realizing it 3 years back I came upon the need to elevate my understanding for a set of information beyond retention, to implementation.  As a brand new IT leader I found I had a team and no structured idea how I was going to lead them.  My answer was to go back to the well of what had worked for me, the simple teachings in who moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson.  So after reading that book again I found that Spencer Johnson had also written “The one Minute Manager”.

Well I would have gotten the book, but I was a new leader I had budgets to gather, ordering to understand, relationship to decipher and the whole concept of what each of my team members did to figure out. In addition I found myself driving to each of our locations in my first month of being a new leader to get “Face time” with my customer base.  This left me with no spare time but a lot of travel time. 

Answer: audio CD of The one Minute Manager I didn’t listen to it once, not twice, I have no idea how many times I listened to it, 3 times all the way though start to finish, then in chunks.  I would listen to 5 minutes, one section.  Then spend the next hour on the road thinking about how I would make this work on my team, how I would adapt what they were saying.  Then stop somewhere open my laptop and take some frantic notes.

After all of these drives I would come home and after the kids went to bed spend hours on devolving procedures, systems whatever I needed to make as much of the book a reality.  (A recent re listen reminded me I was only ever to incorporate about 75% of what was in the book into my day to day)

Over the last month I have found myself reading Hardwiring Excellence by Quint Studer.  This reading has taken the form for a ratio; one hour reading, two hour taking notes and ten more hours mulling it over and revising my thoughts.  I don’t feel like I can move on until I have gelled my thoughts into something resembling an actionable approach to the concepts, then I refine it more as I go.

Without thinking about it I have embarked on two major evolutions to how I manage and they are both driven by some new information, and trying to figure out how to implement it. 

One came from written text the other from an Audio CD and the next might very well come from a podcast, video, Blog, or physical presentation.   That is why I find the term consumption much more appropriate then reading, we don’t just read for information we consume it in many mediums.

This is also infinitely more challenging and time consuming then retention, this is taking new information and preparing it for implementation in line. 

To this end I want to propose a new phrase into our vernacular.  “Consumption for implementation” = the process of learning new information in any way, and at the same time developing a framework to turn the new ideas into action.

This is a skill we should all be willing to develop, what is the point of learning new ideas if we do nothing with them.