Cronycle is in the business of helping professionals develop expertise around their specialty. We want you to self-serve in doing this – you should create algorithms to monitor the right articles in your field, and you can handpick the most relevant articles to you to annotate on boards in your teams.
But what differentiates the people who are using the platform to its full potential, saving hours finding the right information, and those who are unproductive in becoming experts?
It’s a simple question to answer – and it’s not just applicable to the people who use our platform. The successful and productive professionals break down a larger objective into bite-size chunks.
The successful and productive professionals break down a larger objective into bite-size chunks.
To illustrate what this means let me show you a bad way of creating mini objectives.
BIG OBJECTIVE: I need to become an expert at communicating with investors in the construction industry
HOW WILL I DO THIS? I need insights in the construction industry
The person in the above example has simply moved from wanting to become an expert in a domain, through to wanting ‘insights’ in that domain. But this simply isn’t specific enough. You will not get targeted and relevant information simply because what you’re aiming for is far too broad.
Building ‘mini objectives’ beneath a larger objective
If you are working in an industry, you will already be aware of macro themes which exist in your area.
Let’s take the example above. You will be aware technology has a huge impact on the future of construction, as well as political factors and material prices. However, technology is also a very broad subject. So you’ll have to break this down further; the implications of robotics in different areas of construction will contribute towards understanding your subject more for example. Knowing about robotics in construction will give you information you can pass onto your investors.
Becoming an expert in the construction industry is dependent on a number of different sub-topics. Identifying what those sub-topics are is vital in your journey to becoming an expert.
How you identify these sub-topics can happen in a number of different ways. Most can build a list like this using their own experience of the topic matter. If you are a complete novice then you can try asking colleagues or friends for recommendations. If it helps, I was able to build out the above tree without an
When you take these sub-topics, you know what kind of information you would like to curate on a daily basis, and the types of topics you would like to know more about.
What next: Getting more from the information you read on a daily basis
It’s very rare for someone to be able to read and remember information just from reading it once. In order to truly learn, and retain that information for later, most need to interact with the text in some way, or manipulate it to remember it.
Whilst you were at school, you were able to highlight and underline key passages, and add your annotations to the side of texts.
]In order to truly learn, and retain that information for later, most need to interact with the text in some way, or manipulate it to remember it.
So replicate that way of learning for becoming a new domain expert. Handpick the most relevant articles which are part of your sub-topics, and note them down, or annotate them in some way to help you retain information.
Not only will this help you remember the articles you read, but it will also give you clarity as to why that information is relevant for your wider business purpose – which in the above example is giving value to your shareholders.
Understanding how information can help with specific projects
Quite often, the business projects you are working towards don’t directly correspond with the topics you monitor on a daily basis.
You may have to write an article, or deliver a speech to a group of clients, or produce an internal report on a specific subject area. Each of these things depend on you being an expert in your particular domain, having a general awareness of your industry is important. But you are being asked to hone down on a very specific part of your expertise.
To give an example, let’s go back to the investor relations marketer in the construction industry. She has been asked to deliver a report on the top 5 risks in the construction industry which may affect share prices. Because she has been monitoring various different areas which affect the construction industry she has the experience in knowing where to look.
However, this is an important report. And she needs to have facts, reports and evidence to back up her argument. In order to do that she needs to collate lots of external information together, annotate it with her thoughts, and also ask different colleagues for their advice and experience.
In a project like this, collaboration is key to writing this report. But so is communicating to all those collaborators exactly what the purpose of the collaboration is, and the exact reason why she needs their guidance.
It is important to communicate with your colleagues exactly why you need their guidance – otherwise collaboration will be unproductive
In Cronycle, we have a ‘description’ box for this exact reason – to communicate to all members of the team exactly what information would be helpful, and why it is helpful.
As soon as you know exactly what you’re asking for help with, then meetings become more productive, and you will get the information you are looking for.
The pain of not being specific about your objectives
When you are vague about the information you want to see every day, and you do not work according to well-defined projects, the consequences are two-fold:
- You become unproductive
- You will not be entirely sure what information you are searching for, and whether an article has any authority or credibility
- You rely on the judgments of other people
- If you are not able to curate information or analysis on a certain topic, you are relying on other people to give you that information – which puts you out of control of the information which is served to you
Both of these things are a barrier becoming an expert.
How to become an expert: in summary
Breaking down a major objective into mini objectives is critical for productivity and becoming a domain expert.