Melvyn Tan
October 24, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

What Do You Do With What You Know?

[blockquote source=”Proverbs 26:7 (NASB)“]Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools.[/blockquote] During my time in school, it used to be “knowledge is king”. Those days, if you could have more information about a specific super hero, you are the super hero! I’ve always recalled going […]

[blockquote source=”Proverbs 26:7 (NASB)“]Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools.[/blockquote]

During my time in school, it used to be “knowledge is king”. Those days, if you could have more information about a specific super hero, you are the super hero! I’ve always recalled going to the library was a big deal because that was literally the only place available to look for information.

To be able to look for a book using the “call-number” was a useful skill. If you could locate the call number faster than any of your friends, you are a step ahead of them. That’s because it is likely that the library would only have one copy of it. And if you are slow in identifying the call-number compared to your friends, it means you’d simply have to wait for him to return it.

In the corporate context, having the additional information about your customers or your competitors could very well translate to increased market share. Sometimes that could even mean the demise of the company.

In today’s Internet-age, where smartphones are becoming ubiquitous and information is at your fingertips, information or knowledge is no longer king. In fact, it is what you do with that information or knowledge that matters.

You and the person next to you both have access to the same information. Just take the Internet as an example. A huge amount of high quality content is at your disposal, content that could literally change lives. Blogs, podcasts, webinars, etc. There’s just so much quality content out there; in fact too much.

So how do you use and make the use of those information? Naturally, we are only focusing on content that matters to you. For instance, if you are a parent then parenting advice. If you are a trader then economic data. If you are an entrepreneur then people’s needs.

To be able to make use of the information available, we need to understand the 4-stage of learning. First is the stage of unconscious incompetence, which means you don’t even know what you don’t know. This is an extremely critical stage because without knowing what you don’t know, you will adhere to the old ways of doing things.

Once we have that awareness of what we do not know, we move into the second stage, which is conscious incompetence.  From here, you can then use that available information will provide you with the knowledge and with application of that knowledge, you’d now advance to the stage of conscious competence.

Let’s say after numerous application of that knowledge, you know become so familiar with it that it becomes second nature, that’s when you have achieved the level of subconscious competence.

We all have many types of subconscious competence, for example driving, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, typing.  But what can allow us to not just remain relevant but also to keep us at the fore-front is when we are able to create something new, ground-breaking, or innovative. It is here that we are able to take our learning to a new level.

Now, to further the use of information, you will need to apply this new learning with other domain knowledge and information.  For example, now that I have learned some HTML coding, I can use that same technical knowledge and skills to create an eCommerce site.  This is when the next level happens where the individual is able to synthesise.

This coalescence of two or more techniques can bring about cross fertilisation of ideas or solving issues with a combination of more than two techniques. At this point, the learning may become so deeply entrenched that you can create new solutions or techniques to solve problems. Here, the level of learning creates new products or services that are innovative or ground-breaking. This is when the learning really pays many times over and reap returns like 2000% or more.

How an individual can achieve the last level depends on what some might say, resourcefulness or creativeness. And to be creative, you need to adopt a new perspective on the same issue. By doing so, you can then be able to create new and innovative solutions to the issues at hand.

Father we thank You for the wisdom.  We continually seek that wisdom so as to be able to use it to not only benefit ourselves, but also to serve others.  In Jesus name, Amen.