The Trouble With Trying to Be More Knowledgeable

In the 1500s, Martin Luther changed the world by forcing everyone to seek knowledge and answers in the bible. “Here I stand. I cannot do no other” proclaimed Luther to an incredulous Catholic church. All a Christian had to do was to read the Bible. That would give you everything you needed.

In today’s work, we are still seeking knowledge. We recognize the value of experts but I don’t know we fully understand how knowledge is internalized into ourselves and into our teams.

Knowledge is a tricky thing. If we just knew how to do something, what else could get in our way? As it turns out, quite a bit.

There’s an inherent assumption that knowledge is all that is needed to accomplish a goal. If you knew the specific exercises and food choices that you should be making, then weight loss will be an afterthought. If you knew the exact recipe that someone is using, then cooking it is simple. 

However, we underestimate how hard it will be to maintain motivation and momentum. We might not think that sticking to a diet and fitness regimen will be hard. We may not be aware of the grocery shopping and cleaning that takes place during cooking.

In business, I hear the same thing from companies. “All we need is an hour of your time”. If I can just tell them everything I know, as rapidly as possible, then they will be on their way. I can pack a lot of knowledge into a 60-minute call but most of it will be worthless.

Knowledge isn’t just about the quality of it but the moment in which it is delivered. I tell prospects and clients that what they need is “just in time support”. 

Don’t try to absorb everything in a non-stop training session. This is what conferences are like. You go to 20 different sessions but it’s impossible that you will be able to absorb all the knowledge and put it into practice.

However, if you had someone give you that knowledge at the exact moment when you needed it, you’re more likely to be successful. This is what I aim to do with clients. Providing the right knowledge when they will need it the most.

Instead of running a day-long workshop on A/B testing, let’s go through a one-hour on the basics and schedule shorter sessions at critical junctures. We’ll have sessions to look at the initial experiment ideas, the first experiment, the technical tracking of the first experiment, and the initial results of the first experiment.

Just in time knowledge doesn’t overwhelm people. They are learning exactly what they need at the right moment, not everything under the sun. 

In my personal life, I have seen the power of this when it comes to health. I used to struggle to maintain a regular gym schedule until I started working with a virtual trainer. Unlike regular trainers, he’s not actually with me during workouts. Instead, he provides the workout plan, nutrition guidelines, and answers any questions as they come up.

The times when this service is most useful are during challenging moments. I may have an upcoming weekend full of social events and where eating healthy will be a challenge. I can reach out to him and get a few ideas on how to tackle it. Just in time knowledge on nutrition.

Forget about marathon training sessions. Figure out how to structure education and training to provide just-in-time knowledge. You’ll dramatically increase the odds of that knowledge being absorbed and put into action.

One more thing before you go! Do you know how to get more insights out of your data? 

All companies are sitting on a goldmine of data that they haven't fully explored. It's not about technology or capturing more data. The key is to learn how to make the most of your current data and convert it into actionable insights. This is the main idea behind my first book, The Data Miage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data

I'm excited to announce the release of the book through all major retailers. If you're interested, you can download the first chapter for free using the form below. You'll learn what the best data-driven companies do differently and how to make sure you're playing the right data game.