How do you build your knowledge? This is probably as basic a question as it gets. Today’s world doesn’t allow a person to rest on his or her laurels in the business world and be oblivious to changing technology and paradigms; very soon, such a person would become a dodo in the business world and become easily replaceable. To avoid that, one must increase one’s awareness and knowledge. Here are some resources to do that:
- News feeds: This is the easiest way to stay updated on current happenings in your domain as well as general news. You can subscribe to news feeds from say, BBC, and get them delivered to your Outlook client using a tool like Intravnews. Alternatively, you can also use email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird or use an online reader such as Google Reader.
This is much easier than visiting each site individually. You can subscribe to the correct feed so that you don’t get news articles not relevant to you. And while subscribing, also have a good mix of general news items including politics, business and arts. This will help you to have a well-rounded knowledge, instead of a specialized and thereby narrow focus.
- Audio: If you are a person who drives to work and spends a lot of time doing that daily, get a hold of good audio books – borrow them from the library or buy them. Libraries typically have CDs or audio cassettes which can be played back in the car. You can also get iPod audio books, which work better in case you commute to work on a bus or train.The only problem with audio books is with the narrator. As far as possible, choose audio books narrated by the author, because he or she knows when to emphasize the right points. I recently had the unfortunate situation of listening to “Primal Leadership” where the narrator had the consistent tone of voice throughout the 9 CDs and it took all of my focus to understand the important points.
- Conversations: Talk to more people and gain from their experiences. Listen more and talk less. Everyone has something to share and you can choose to repeat their successes or failures. You can also benefit from online communities such as Yahoo! Groups. The greater your interaction, the richer your knowledge.If you are interested in taking a learning course, I would highly recommend a course that provides greater and direct interaction with people. An online course is not as useful in this respect, though there are some really good collaboration tools.
- Books: Every education should include a heavy dose of reading books. You could opt to gain knowledge through audio and news articles, but reading provides a different experience. Books make you slow down, concentrate and treat you to a detailed analysis of the issue at hand.When you read a book, you are immersed in the author’s world. For a few hours, you live in that universe, understand the logic, learn about the issues and arrive at good reasoning. A good book doesn’t trivialize the subject and provides you a much deeper understanding than other sources of knowledge.
For “continuous improvement”, you need “continuous learning”. The above resources are very helpful in that regard, but they are not exhaustive – there are other forms of learning – video cassettes, formal learning, etc. You should choose whatever works best for you and which helps you towards your goal of constant progress in your life and career.