“Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Picture this: A thirty something young lady, vivacious, high energy working as a Recruiter for an Employment Services organization. Her previous work experience is varied; managing the technical support for a national fitness chain, Non-Profit work and service and hospitality are all colors that blend into a diversified palette. As she speaks at a rapid fire pace with fine tuned accuracy, her message is one of much insight about how to acquire information from people, but moreover this girl understands how, as women, we have a knack for firing up the intuitive burners and turning that information into immediate knowledge with point blank precision.
She covers the basics skills of active listening, use of hand gestures, presenting an air of non-judgment and networking skills, but most importantly she understands the currency exchange that occurs between people. I am fairly certain that even she does not understand all of the pedagogical nuances of her very nature. That’s right; she is a natural! In an informational society, with masses seeking the power, how do so many often miss the boat?
Data Mining is the act of gathering data and turning it into useful information. It commonly involves four classes of tasks:
- Classification – Arranges the data into predefined groups.
- Clustering – Is like classification but the groups are not predefined, so the algorithm will try to group similar items together.
- Regression – Attempts to find a function which models the data with the least error.
- Association rule learning – Searches for relationships between variables. For example a supermarket might gather data of what each customer buys. Using association rule learning, the supermarket can work out what products are frequently bought together, which is useful for marketing purposes. This is sometimes referred to as “market basket analysis”.
All of us have met the natural. The person whose ability to mine data into productive information is an almost simultaneous task. What is their secret? While much of the process is intuitively driven, here are my observations. I would be most interested in yours.
The point of introduction: who speaks first about whom? Just as if we were interviewing someone for the CFO position in our company, the expert miner recognizes that each wants something from the other and knows how to maintain control over that currency.
The conversation: Who speaks most? Who is asking the questions? So often, the control of information is lost. Gathering information requires active listening in a safe, honest environment. Pride and insecurity are enemies to the process. There is no need to toot ones horn and develop a sense of expertise…not as the gatherer. Collect the information first.
The analysis: What relationships lie within this information? Beginning with a mind map and perhaps even creating a physical one, will allow us to completely dissect and cluster information for the most efficient use.
The action plan: This is where the expert in us can be revealed. Knowing what to do with the information, the proper timing and course of action will serve as a testament to your abilities. Here is where you acquire and maintain the power.
Given this context, let’s take a look at the daily tools we have in place to gather information. Are we using these opportunities to promote yourself or facilitate the mining process? At the office, what questions do you ask? Is your staff an overlooked pocket of important data for your company? How much more personal information could you gather about your customers and vendors?
Consider the following: How do you use social technologies like Twitter and Facebook? What’s the tone of your blog? How do you actively gather your information?