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Being patient - adding experience to information

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, April 05, 2016   


At Hothouse Design we have a diagram that describes the process of turning data into wisdom. We didn't invent this process but it resonates for us because it mimics our experience and it explains the process of turning data into wisdom is a very succinct way. In this process, information turns into knowledge once you add experience to the mix.

Understanding Information Design

Experience is the key to changing information into a solid foundation. There is a difference between information and knowledge and that difference occurs in the aha moment. Experience adds the 'why' component to the information. That 'aha' moment is when the 'why' drops into place. If you haven't experienced the aha moment for a while then you aren't learning anything really new – you are probably refining your skills like crazy, but new is different.

Some experience can be engineered, the rest has to be walked through over time. One form of engineered experience is role playing – awful stuff. Only the exhibitionists in any group like role playing and it is very hard to role play failure. But technology changes have given us an option: scenarios. These are a bit like stories with lots of different endings and the learner can go through each to experience different results.

First person games and simulators give learners the opportunity to try out scenarios without any real life consequences. And once you have a series of actions that are working, you can rehearse them in your mind to strengthen the experience. Your brain is just as happy with the rehearsed version as the real version – ask any sportsperson if they do any mental rehearsal and you will get a resounding yes answer.

Where simulators and first person games aren't available we can use scenarios to simulate interactions between people. With a scenario, we can build a scene for people to walk through and have it play out in many different ways depending on the choices made at each step. Imagine being able to rehearse a confrontation with an angry customer, or demonstrating a complex product to a new customer.

Remember that the brain doesn't distinguish between a real experience and an imagined one. Scenarios allow us to have experiences that my led to that aha moment but do it faster than life may allow. The difference between waiting for life to provide the required experiences and being able to run through them on demand means accelerated learning and increased productivity.

The aha moments that life dishes up are wonderful but they require patience. Rehearsals speed up the process and don't need to be the province of actors and athletes alone.

Further Reading

Turning information into wisdom
- Who said: A different language is a different vision of life?

This post is by Deirdre Wilson, Director of Hothouse Design – Australia's most sensible information design company.
Deirdre applies her background in industrial design and design management to the complex and wondrous projects undertaken by Hothouse Design.

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