Learning from Other People


image“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” — Albert Einstein

One way to learn is by making mistakes.

Another way is to learn from others.

In Software Architect Bootcamp, Raphael Malveau and Thomas J. Mowbray, Ph.D. write about two skills you need to learn from other people.

Two Skills to Learn from Other People

Learn how to read between the lines and how to take advice.

Via Software Architect Bootcamp:

“There is another way to learn (rather than making mistakes), and that is by learning from other people. To do that effectively, two skills that most people lack are required: how to read between the lines and how to take advice. “

Read Between the Lines

What’s not said can be more important than what was said.  Similarly who said it, and why they are saying it, may say a lot.

Via Software Architect Bootcamp:

“The phrase ‘reading between the lines’ is only a figure of speech.

People do not literally read anything between lines of text. Rather, they analyze what the author is saying at a level of detail somewhat beyond the surface discussion. This requires the use of knowledge, experience, and imagination.

To read between the lines, first visualize the situation of reading a story around human experiences. Try to imagine how those people were feeling and acting that motivated what they did. Were they lazy, angry, ignorant, misinformed, or biased?
Now read an article by a vendor or consultant. Is the writer competent to speak and act on this subject? Does the writer have an agenda, perhaps product or standards-centric, and is he or she trying too hard to be persuasive? How does what he or she is saying compare to personal experience and knowledge? Is the writer right or wrong or somewhere in between? When did he or she write this, and what was the historical context of these comments?”

Taking Advice

If you don’t learn how to benefit from the advice of others, you waste a lot of time and energy.

Via Software Architect Bootcamp:

“It is also true that very few people readily accept the advice of others. Everyone should try harder to accomplish these basic techniques more effectively. While this advice is relatively simple, few people regularly utilize these basic skills in much depth; therefore, they waste a great deal of time and energy by not benefiting from the knowledge of others.”

Know What to Accept or Reject

Decide what to use and what to throw away.  Through practice, this becomes second nature.

Via Software Architect Bootcamp:

“These are impressions that one should be able to pick up naturally while reading. The ability to read between the lines gives people the ability to discriminate and consciously decide what they did will add to their knowledge and what they will reject. Every piece has some good and some bad information. To win the psychological war, one needs to know the difference instinctively.”

Key Take Aways

I think there’s a few complimentary concepts along these lines:

  1. Know what you want to accomplish. If you don’t have a purpose, you’ll be randomized by information overload.
  2. Build trusted sources of information. Find the people, sites, blogs, and authors that you can rely on.
  3. Measure against what works. Measure against what works, how actionable the information is, and how you improve your effectiveness.
  4. Continuously collect reference examples to draw from. There’s stories of successful people in just about any situation you end up in. Find those stories and find the patterns of what works and model from the success.
  5. Turn insights into action. Chunk what you learn down into the simplest thing you could do to improve results. Always start with something simple. Simple builds momentum. Part of why I do this blog, is it’s a simple way to act on what I learn. Posts are a right-sized way to share nuggets of insight.