Become Traveling Scientist



“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” 

-Lao Tzu

Why Ask Why

An inquiring mind is the key to learning. Steve Blank coined the term “get out of the building” to capture the sentiment that we have to step out of our tiny worlds to learn from real people in their real environments.

Seeking learning by getting out of the building and traveling provides us the benefit of learning from real world contexts. The associations we make between data and the real world nurtures applicable insight. In a sense, we must become like traveling scientists, testing our ideas in a variety of settings and observing the outcomes. The assumptions we make about the world are only as good as, what can be proven. Without the willingness to test our ideas in reality just ideas is all they will be. Like scientists we must be mindful of what we see and diligent in what we document.

Context is King

When talking about knowledge context is king. The context in which we discover bits of insight is important because context helps us understand how to apply what we know. At the end of the day, our goal is to acquire the knowledge necessary to influence the world around us in a manner that produces specific results.

 Knowledge is a Survival Tool

The catalyst behind all success is a commitment to acquire and implement knowledge. Knowledge acquisition is what safe guards an organization from not only the perils of a complex and changing world but also from human fallibility. Knowledge is both an objective and subjective thing. As we learn about the world around us and its governing principles, we also learn about ourselves. When the love of knowledge and learning begins to wane people no longer question. This is a precarious situation. Without questioning, there can be no innovation, no renewal of vision and strategy. Changing to meet the demands of complex world is an act of learning.

 What Can Be Done

A few recommendations on nurturing knowledge acquisition within your organization:

  •  Provide people the autonomy to research and solve problems
  • Make resources available to empower thinking
  • Provide people access to diversity of thought, culture, and skill set
  • Provide people access to performance data in order to see the outcomes of action

What do you do in your organization to encourage learning?