If there's something you don't know, but want to, you'll learn it faster if you frame it on what specific kind of learning you need to do.
To find what's important, observe. Go to the source and watch. Look at the data to get a sense of what's happening. Look at what actually happens with an open mind. Ask why.
Observation means collecting information to generate insightful questions.
To dig deeper and understand, inspect. Ask for explanations and stories. Listen for clues. Analyze the data.
Inspection leads to theories and hypotheses.
To confirm your belief, experiment. Try something and see how it works.
Experimentation starts with a yes or no question and ends with an answer. And the best experimenters also make new observations.
This paradigm isn't just for science, it's used in business too.
It's how financial management works:
- Financial data is collected and organised into categories. (Observe)
- The categories reveal questions and problem-areas that need attention. (Inspect)
- Changes are made to try to fix the problem, and measured in next month's report. (Experiment)
It's how sales people work:
- They research to find people that could make good customers. (Observe)
- They meet them, and ask them questions to "qualify" them. (Inspect)
- And when they've heard enough to think they know what they want, they try to close the deal. (Experiment)
It's how new businesses find their start:
- Who is a good target customer group? (Observe)
- How do we make something they'll use and buy? (Inspect)
- Do we have the right product and marketing? (Experiment)