GO (from Knowledge to Actions)
Knowledge is not one unit but a combination of different contexts and features that include science, experience, and tacit agreements. While most people are filled with a lot of knowledge that they keep absorbing from different channels and people, conserving this knowledge and putting it to an actual use that delivers an action is rare. Unless you go from the knowledge to action, the knowledge serves no good.
How many times have you read self-help books or listened to motivational speeches that gave you ideas on how to improve your life? I am sure that each one of us must have heard or read them and must have got inspiration from but how many of us are actually able to use what we learn and apply in action to actually improve our lives? We have questions and the moment we start searching for answers, we also find people who can answer them yet why most us are still stuck with no solutions actually implemented? We have challenges and we also have answers to those challenges but how many of us care to remember the solutions and actually try them in our lives?
Why taking Action is so difficult?
What we need to do is to go from knowledge to action. This is not as easy as it sounds because knowledge to action is not a linear phenomenon that works on a linear human thinking. A linear human thinking would work on tried and tested procedures like recipes that once known can be immediately used to cook a dish. Actual actions that improve our lives are not so linear in nature. A recipe can serve millions in the same way. It doesn’t matter who is cooking as long as the recipe is provided. Something will come out with a good taste. However, when it comes to real life challenges and solutions, the same knowledge may be understood and manage in different ways by different people. This adds complexity to the nature of the solution which is why action becomes difficult.
We understand the recipes so we know how to use them but do we understand the knowledge that we get from life solutions? Don’t you think if we have a better understanding of that knowledge, we would be able to make a better plan to use it in life?
What is Knowledge?
Knowledge is actually a socially constructed phenomenon and thus, it is formed from and influenced by multiple perspectives, hierarchies, and behaviors of people. A knowledge can come in different hierarchies that exist with the varying importance of knowledge. More practical the knowledge is, higher is it in the hierarchy of knowledge. For instance, if I tell you to calm down as a solution to relieve stress, it may not be a very practical solution in your severed condition but if I ask you to do a meditation then it would be a more practical solution and thus, would have a rise in the knowledge hierarchy. A specific meditation exercise or a guided visualization would be even more practical and thus, would top the hierarchy. An item which is on the top of the knowledge hierarchy can immediately be converted into an action. The solutions that we get from the world are usually not at the top level of the knowledge hierarchy and that is left for you to discover which is why you do not see the possibilities of practical applications of the lessons you receive as solutions in life.
How do I get to the top of knowledge hierarchy?
To be able to get to the action, you need to go up the hierarchy of the knowledge. You have to identify the elements in the hierarchy yourself for which you need to integrate the knowledge that you have from the person who probably gave you a solution with the experience you have, your personal values that you nurture, the context in which you are operating, and the evidence of the application of the solution in other scenarios.
The person giving you a solution may be talking in one context but that does not mean you cannot apply the solution to another context. A solution may be given to you in the context of your life at work but you may even use it for a case at home. A context can affect our own creation of knowledge as well as trigger its use in different ways. It can decide the way things are done, the resources that can be used, the tools that can be used for help, and governance strategies for your actions. A difficult part of the conversion of knowledge into a real application is that the knowledge that you have received has to be adapted to the context without which you may not have any real application.
How do we adapt the knowledge to context?
As already mentioned that knowledge is created by integrating experience, evidence, resources, and values with the recent knowledge received. All these elements have to be addressed and adapted to the context. For instance, if we are talking in the context of office work, then to adopt values to the context, we may talk about specific work practices that you feel can give results. Evidence, in this case, can be obtained from an experience at work. Your staff can become your resources if you are a corporate leader looking for a solution to improve your work or organizational position.
NOTE: Remember, to go up the hierarchy and be context specific at a time, you need to identify a resource that can be used, a tool that can help, and an action you need to take. And that will be your actual solution
Even after you adapt the knowledge to your context, you can still be a step away from the use of the knowledge in your action. This can happen if certain blockades are there to stop you from moving. These can be lack of awareness, lack of self-confidence, lack of agreement or other environmental barriers. So, to be able to apply the knowledge to solve the core problem of your life, you not just have to apply the solution that you discovered after going up the knowledge hierarchy and adapting it to your context, but you will also have to identify these barriers and eliminate them one by one before you move on.
How do we eliminate the barriers?
Here comes another problem, another challenge, probably totally unrelated to your original issue which you were exploring to solve an issue in life. So, what should you do at this point? Go back to the cycle of knowledge hierarchy, identify solutions to these barriers from your experience, feedback from people, and your values. Build knowledge and climb up to the top of the hierarchy. Keep going on and on like this for all the barriers you face and then you will actually reach the level when you are finally free to move on and apply the solution.
So, solving real-life problems is not a single problem-single solution arrangement but it comes with a series of loops of different problems that are connected in such a way that unless you untangle them and solve them one by one, you will not be able to address your real problem. Visualize the world’s most tasty chocolate wrapped in a cloth. Suppose, this cloth has a lot of knots in it so, unless you open all the knots in the cloth, you won’t be able to reach your chocolate. This chocolate is the solution presented to you in your life for the problem you spoke to the world about. The knots are not visible to others but only you, so, to be able to enjoy the chocolaty solution, you have to first untie the knots yourself.
To Wrap Up
Step 1: You have a problem
Step 2: You seek a solution
Step 3: You explore – ideas from others, your experience, pieces of evidence of application, Your values, your resources
Step 4: You identify a solution and go up the knowledge hierarchy
Step 5: Adapt the top level solution to your context
Step 6: Identify barriers – Barrier 1, barrier 2….
Step 7: Take barrier 1 and go back to step 1 – it is your new problem
Step 8: If the solution you got for the barrier after adaptation can be applied directly, apply it and move on to the next barrier, else keep the loop on and identify barriers preventing you from removing the barrier 1
The barriers would keep coming, your problems would keep revealing themselves and you will keep moving in the loop till you get to the level when all your barriers are eliminated and you get to the final solution.
YET, THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU STOP
The solution may not work for you but don’t be disheartened but be happy because you have already sorted out many of your life problems in an attempt to solve one problem in this way. So, what do you do next? Evaluate the outcomes, retain the lessons, identify remaining problems and go back to the knowledge-action cycle of knowledge creation, adaptation to context, identification of barriers, and so on.
A simple example may help you here:
I wanted to become a published writer but lacked the right skills, so I looked for the solution and found one – read widely to get ideas. So, I climbed up the hierarchy, read articles and write opinions on the ideas.
Adaptation to the context – read a newspaper (resource) daily and write letters (Tools) in response (Actionable). Values – fairness – write opinions that question unfairness in the news events.
But how do I write opinions? I found some barriers –
Barrier 1 – I am not good with the English language
Barrier 2 – I do not understand some topics
Solution to barrier 1 – learn English
Solution to barrier 2 – study books on chosen subjects (ex. Economics)
Can I now apply the initial solution to become a writer?
I can now read news on economics and then write letters to the editor on those subjects expressing my opinion. My letters if appreciated can get published so I reach my initial goal.
This was a very simple problem explained in the example but in your life, you may face a lot harder and complex problem that you have to solve. Do not get upset because the method presented here can always help you not just identify solutions but also take yourself from knowledge of the solution to actual action.