“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok
Vague information isn’t just frustrating; it can be dangerous to both your readers and your credibility. Anyone can dole out generic information that they found on the Internet, but it doesn’t make them an expert. Providing ambiguous content or information that’s already saturating the market can achieve the opposite effect. It may make you appear uniformed. And that ignorance (even if it’s just the perception of ignorance) is an expensive waste of time and money.
Let’s take a step back for a second: An expert is someone who has authoritative knowledge in their niche that has been garnered through prolonged or intense experience. If you are an expert in a field who lacks extensive insight on a particular topic or you’re out-of-touch with trends in your niche, you can gain first-hand experience to acquire knowledge! All you have to do is open up to continuous learning.
Before you throw an apple at my head, allow me to explain: continuous learning isn’t about reentering the classroom or taking a course. It’s about developing your reflection and inquiry skills that are necessary for critical thinking. It’s also about turning your personal and professional life into your own laboratory for exploration and innovation – the ultimate cure for ignorance.
12 Tips to Create Your Own Innovation Laboratory
- Be receptive by voraciously consuming information. Immerse yourself into a topic every day. Shadow those who are in the field, conduct interviews, experiment to gain first-hand experience, and connect with real people.
- The better your mind and body is, then the better your ability to retain information. Make sure you drink enough water, get enough sleep, exercise, and consider eating healthier foods that target optimal brain function.
- Stop multitasking. Research suggests multitasking can actually make you less effective. Focus on what’s in front of you by eliminating distractions and practice better time management.
- Refine your speed-reading skills. Speed reading will help you consume information faster by filtering out irrelevant information and put a spotlight on new and important information.
- Get visual by mapping out a topic or create an information pyramid that builds up from the basics to the most complex point. Consider broader applications of your topic by analyzing the when, where, and why it is important as well as for whom and how.
- Connect new topics to those already in your existing “knowledge bank.” How does the new information fit into the framework of the old? Or is it a game changer?
- Examine what you know and ask yourself probing questions. Anything that you can’t answer or may not have a strong answer in, make an on-going research to-do list.
- Read, listen, and watch. Increase the variety of ways you consume information through a multi-media approach that touches on both visual and auditory learning. Listen to lectures, read articles, watch videos, look at charts, and much more.
- Collaborate and connect with your professional peers and actually engage in discussions with them rather than passively adding them to your network. Make valuable relationships that will grow.
- Allow your interests and passions to cross pollinate. This will not only lend motivation, it will help you approach a topic with a new and more meaningful perspective.
- Ditch your computer. Writing long hand has shown to stimulate ideas, so ditch the computer and other tech (when brainstorming at least!). Carry a notebook with you at all times to record meditative thoughts or jot down an idea that suddenly came to you.
- Consider the source:
- Who is providing the information (e.g., credible author vs. “admin”)?
- Why are they telling you the information (i.e., unbiased vs. self-serving)?
- Are they providing evidence that supports their stance or are they dropping generalizations?
- Are there holes in their logic?
- Did they leave key information out to spin a topic in their favor or manipulate your understanding of the topic?
Open yourself up to all sorts of information and ideas by using these tips to avoid any poor impressions that vague, unoriginal information gives readers.
How do you stay on top of your niche and brainstorm fresh ideas?