Learning and Synthesizing Information using CODE

The bulk of my job is communicating with people in a technical field to change how they work. Engaging content is in a narrative format. Narratives resemble the structure of a story. The story we want to hear is the same. There is a problem. We are going to solve it with the people we have. We will know we are successful by the guidelines we state. Imagine a world with people engaged and cheerful about change. The people are active in its adoption. Make your life easier and start with why.

Synthesis, The hard part

Tiago Forte’s CODE is simple to remember. Collect, Organize, Distill, Express. Use a knowledge management system. I use Notion. I am experimenting with Obsidian. Find the tool that works for you.

Use a System to collect and organize the content you find

Use an established organizational method to collect material in your knowledge management system. Tiago recommends PARA as it is versatile across multiple tools. Notion features databases to display information in different views. You can view your content as Kanban, calendar, timeline, table, and others. If you use Obsidian, consider the Linking Your Thinking system. Obsidian features a network graph that shows connections between notes. This view is powerful because it visualizes links between notes. Either tool you use, the purpose is to find your notes and view them from different angles.

Distill

Use progressive summarization to find the content that matters. Highlight the best parts of books. Most ebooks feature a way to extract highlights. I pull those into a notion document to revisit in the future. I also keep impactful images from books. The purpose of progressive summarization is to find the parts that matter at a glance. This blog is my summarization tool. Maybe someone obtains value from this. I also can better communicate these ideas in the future.

Express

Nothing forces you to learn content better than teaching others about it. You can do this in a variety of ways. Create a slideshow presentation and post it on YouTube. Write a blog. Make a play. The sky is the limit. Do not worry about capturing people’s attention or dwelling on people’s feedback. What hits? Who knows. People respond to mediums differently. For some, a well-written narrative is perfect. Others need a recorded video. Long article? Some people like it. Some people get frustrated.

Creating

Tie it all together now. You are on stage. Connect these disparate ideas into one cohesive package for your audience to take away. Word vomit onto Google Docs. Everything you are mulling over, throw it all on there. Sleep on it or come back later. Identify the structure you can pull out of that first draft. There will be a lot of ideas or thoughts that are interesting yet disconnected from anything. Try again to put it into that structure. Now write the second draft to organize your thought process. Don’t waste time editing. You are refining your ideas into a framework. This second draft is not the final result. Get some rest. Let’s come back again.

Alright, final draft, here we go. You’ve had time to think through the various angles and get your thoughts in order. Now the purpose of this version is to communicate with other people.