Innovation Inspiration #018—Read Widely

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In order to be able to connect the dots between random and seemingly disconnected things—a key element of innovation—you must know at least a little about a lot of things.

The single best way I know to do this is by reading widely.

Read books. Read magazines. Read newspapers. Read websites—especially online encyclopedias, which have a higher density of useful links than most any other source.

And I said read, not skim. (Mostly.)

To a certain extent, you must skim, because this is the most efficient way to learn about a wide variety of subject matter.

For instance, my boss told me he subscribes to about a hundred publications. There is no way he can read but a fraction of those. But by reading some, and skimming the rest, he learns about the latest happenings across many disciplines. And I’m convinced this broad and up-to-date knowledge is one of the key enablers to making him a visionary.

But you must read deeply in at least three areas. The first is obviously in your chosen field. The second must be for fun—preferably fiction. The third must be in a field that is totally unrelated, even diametrically opposed.

Then pick another 6–12 fields or topics to skim.


Jeremy subscribes to 100 technical or trade journals…

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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