Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - April 5, 2015
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Finishing out of spiteOnce in a great while, I find myself finishing a book purely out of spite. I'm doing that right now with a book called "Invent, Reinvent, Thrive". It's by Lloyd Shefsky, a professor in entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.
That's a pretty serious "brand-name" school, so I assumed that the book would contain some world-class information. I'm at the halfway point, and haven't read anything other than trivial anecdotes and the kind of advice that one might get from a dopey motivational speaker.
Maybe the book will recover in the second half, but I'm not optimistic. And even if it does, I kind of want my money back for the trite first half.
I picked up the book because the reviews and summaries promised a revealing book about sustaining and growing family-run businesses. I have a vested interest in the subject myself, but I also think it's a hugely important subject for America generally.
What I'm trying to establish is whether the book is entirely devoid of content or if it's just very poorly communicated.
College textbooks on communications are themselves pretty dopey -- they talk about a "model of communication" that includes three pieces: "Sender", "message", and "receiver". That's not really how information is transferred.
It starts with everything that is to be known about a topic. That can be a pretty broad topic, and certainly we hope that "everything" that is to be known about, well, everything, is constantly being expanded.
From that "everything", then, any message gets reduced by whatever the sender actually understands about what they've been taught.
Then it's reduced by what they're capable of retaining.
Then it's influenced by what they're able to synthesize with that knowledge from other subjects.
Then, just like we're going through a progressively smaller set of pipes, it gets winnowed down by what they're able to effectively describe. Everyone knows brilliant people who can't describe anything about what they know to anyone -- even to the most sophisticated audience.
Then, it's not just a question of whether the sender is able to describe the material, but whether they do.
But of course, then it's influenced by the amount of the content the audience actually receives. My red flag for the modern world is that we are so awash in PowerPoint and SlideShare and social media that we're losing sight of the fact that the transmission of content to an audience isn't the only thing that matters.
And of what they receive, the audience only really makes use of what they actually comprehend.
And winnowing down even more, we don't retain everything that we comprehend, either.