Who Influences Your Thinking?

Comments on Who Influences Your Thinking? [broken link removed] – Survey results [broken link removed]

> 1. Are people getting most of their information
> from other sources?
That would be my guess.

Similar to the phenomenon of “the long tail” which is an interesting topic in its own right. We tend to focus on the popular few (books, musicians, movies, authors, computer programs…) but often the sum of the less popular many is more significant. See:

  • The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, Wired, Oct 2004 “The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are”
  • Continued discussion of the Amazon figures in a Chiris Anderson’s blog. “I’ve now spoken to Jeff Bezos (and others) about this. He doesn’t have a hard figure for the percentage of sales of products not available offline, but reckons that it’s closer to 25-30%.”
  • The long tail – a secret sauce for companies like Amazon.com, Netflix and Apple Computer, Motley Fool, NPR Audio Recording

Getting back to the question raised by the “Who Influences Your Thinking” post; More importantly I believe they (we) are just failing to get all we should.

> 2. Do we need other ways to provide important information to people?

> 3. Perhaps people already have all the information they need and these subjects are saturated?

I don’t think think so, which is why I think the answer to question 2 is yes. People need to use the ideas of deBono, Senge, Hamel, Rodin (who is, I would think one of the lest well known but is the author of a great book: Free, Perfect and Now)… It is not that their ideas would not help, they would.

From the survey the lowest percentage response for “I have not read that author” was 38% – for Senge (Rodin was the highest at 94%). The audience for the universe invited to respond was pretty much limited to the friends of the InnovationNetwork.

The book model of transferring information is great. But still, it is not close to sufficient. Many other ways of learning as well as support for applying new ideas are available, but they are also lacking. At least for someone who believes, like I do, that we are failing to apply all sorts of knowledge that would benefit from applying. Some of those ways are: hearing someone like Senge speak, reading blogs, working with others on how to apply some of the ideas in your organization, reading magazines, applying ideas and learning from that application, talking to colleagues that are trying similar things in other organizations, videos, listening to recorded lectures, interactive computer models, exercises (learning experiences), argument, coaching from a consultant…

My guess is a big part of the reason so many people in the survey had not read the work of Senge, Hamel, deBono etc. is time pressure. I don’t see the lack of time to read disappearing as a problem. I think people also find it difficult to see how to apply the ideas they read to the situations they encounter. That can be improved by combining the other methods of learning how to apply the ideas.

It could also be improved by our education system focusing on how to apply ideas rather than how to restate the ideas for a test but that is a very long term process. Two great minds that are helping improve education are: Alfie Kohn and David Langford (don’t judge their ideas by the look of their web sites – these “books” are much better than their “covers” might lead you to presume).

I don’t have any great new idea on “other ways.” My belief is we do need to do a much better job of using the knowledge that is available. What we are doing is not sufficient. And since I don’t have some great new idea all I am left with is we should do a better job of the the things that do work to some extent. Maybe by doing that people will find great new ways that will provide an easier path for those that follow.

Who influences my thinking on Management Improvement:

and many more.

4 thoughts on “Who Influences Your Thinking?

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