Tim Oren offers
his process for coming up to speed on a new market or technology.
Although it’s oriented towards his specific needs as a VC evaluating
potential investments, it is general enough to offer an excellent
starting point for any of us whose lives are characterized by having to
make sense out of new environments on a regular basis. Certainly, there
have been times in my career as a consultant when it seems that the
primary skill requirement is to be an adept quick study on anything.
Here’s Tim’s key graf:
technology and market has a private language. It’s built of terms of
art, but also names of landmarks such as products, famous papers and
projects, labs, and researchers and other experts. To begin to
understand the market you need to learn this language. Fortunately,
such a distinctive use of language and interlinkage of people and
information artifacts is the very best thing you can have to feed
Google or other modern search tools. The second observation is that the
best way to learn a field is to watch experts argue about it. [Due Diligence]
I would add two suggestions to his approach. First, give some thought
to using a mindmap or something similar to manage your growing
knowledge base. I’m a fan of MindManager for
this kind of effort, and the newest version adds a number of new
features to support this kind of organic research strategy. Jerry Michalski is a fan of a product called Personal Brain.
I used it a few years back and, while I liked it, ultimaely concluded
that mindmaps suited me better. Second, give some thought to how you
want to manage the collection of electronic resources (links, captured
webpages, pdf files, etc) you will ultimately collect. Lately, I’ve
been having success with a combination of MindManager and Onfolio.