b-school, Henley, Management, MBA, Personal, Thoughts

Reflecting (the spectrum of learning)

One of the things I’ve been doing lately is reflecting. Reflecting a lot, I might add. Sometimes I even feel I’m running in circles, but somehow I also feel I have been internalising a lot of things, acquiring new concepts and making new relationships between the elements of my knowledge system.

Wherever I go I seem to find several things related to what I’ve been writing and learning in this sort of quest. Indeed, learning is a quest. Beating the unbeatable foe: ignorance. But the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. The more we know in absolute terms, the less we know in relative ones.

Well I was in those kind of mental ramblings when I found Ackoff’s spectrum of learning, that hereby I rename as the learning value chain.

data -> information -> knowledge -> understanding -> wisdom

Wow. A lot of (un)common sense transformed into chain form.

Let’s read it and reflect about it. Learning is a process, a value chain, that needs a lots of parts to be produced before completion. Each one of them is necessary to make the whole product.

Beginning with raw data, that we of course need as our raw material to transform, we must be able to transform ourselves into wiser beings. (Maybe we are the raw materials and data is the energy, or maybe we need something else to be able to transform ourselves and raw data into something more, maybe there’s another kind of energy involved in the process)

But, whatever it is, it seems clear that if we spend too much of our time and energy dealing with data, or simply with information, we can be so saturated with it that we won’t be able to have any time or energy left to analyse and reflect so we won’t be able to move to understanding and ultimately to wisdom.

Everything in its right quantity to be able to cook some wisdom. Do not get lost into a sea of data, don’t try to understand everything without any kind of interiorisation, do rely on information… to a certain point.


Last but not least, I said reflection or reflecting, not procrastinating. Procrastinating (leaving things for tomorrow knowing they should be done today) is not good at all for your mental discipline. It will make your brain lazier. After all the brain is an organic machine worried about survival and, in non-emergency mode, worried mainly about energy conservation. So if the brain gets its way, it will procrastinate more tomorrow. An ill-fated destiny for wisdom.

In other words, if you let your mind defeat you, you’ll be weaker tomorrow (crastinus in Latin), and you’ll have even more disadvantage tomorrow, that will turn into lower self-esteem, low mood and ultimately depression. A vicious circle.


7 thoughts on “Reflecting (the spectrum of learning)

  1. barun moitra says:

    Great thought Gabriel. I certainly find myself (mind) wondering sometimes amid sea of information. I think categorizing which requires immediate thought and which can be postponed is very important. Sometimes we try to grasp all at one go just to realise that we have learnt nothing. Gathering information and understanding information are two different entities. Lot of people gather a lot but hardly ever know how to utilize it and I think thats bad. I would like to know your views on this.

  2. Thanks for the comment Barun,

    I agree completely.

    What’s even more amazing about Ackoff’s model, and you know that all the models shouldn’t constrain the mind but rather expand our reasoning, is that there’s a value chain there, saying, ok, get the data, but don’t stop there, extract the information, but don’t stop there, from the information get the knowledge you need, but still don’t stop there, reflect and get a deep understanding, and experiment, learn, open your mind, interiorise, theorise, apply and many more and thus go deeper into understanding, let your mind diverge, interconnect, wander, learn, explore, reformulate, intuit, feel, see yourself in it, see from outside… and end up with wisdom.

    So the whole process is both a chain and a cycle, there’s much more to learning than data or information or knowledge, there’s the whole system where the learner interacts and transforms himself towards a new person, ending up being more than he was. It’s an ongoing process to wisdom.

    Wisdom that you can only acquire from an holistic perspective, parting from the western mind closer to data and the basics, and also including the eastern mind, more focused on the whole and on transformation.

    This sort of summarises my whole view on learning 🙂

    Best regards


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