I hope you have enjoyed the 27 posts I have submitted since last October. I encourage you to revisit the posts listed below. I am concluding the posts until September 2015 when I will pick up where I left off. I would enjoy hearing from you regarding the posts you enjoyed and why they caught your interest. Until September I bid you farewell.
#1 - Being a Leader
#2 - Leadership
#3 - Finishing Well
#4 - Key Characteristics
#5 - Major Barriers
#6 - Enhancements
#7 - Budding Leaders
#8 - Concerns versus Influence
#9 - Hills to Die On
#10 - Boundary Events
#11 - SMART Goals
#12 - Time Management
#13 - Decision Filters
#14 - Clock or Compass
#15 - Mentoring Insights
#16 - Mentoring Dynamics
#17 - Mentoring Needs
#18 - Mentoring Types
#19 - Mentoring Guidelines
#20 - Mentoring Contract
#21 - Unrealized Potential
#22 - Wise Decisions
#23 - Reframing
#24 - Interview Technique
#25 - Too Much to Read
#26 - Too Little Time to Read
#27 - Reading What Is Important
Thus far we have covered four approaches for Reading on the Run, Continuum Reading Concepts: scan reading, ransack reading, browse reading, and Pre-reading. See the last two posts for details on these methods.
The last and more detailed reading methods include In-depth Reading and Studying a Book.
According to J. Robert Clintion (and in his own words) you do an in-depth reading of a book when you have determined from scanning, ransacking, and browsing that it is worth pre-reading and actually reading in-depth. An in-depth reading of a book is a detailed approach to the evaluation of a book which involves pre-reading followed by detailed reading of all parts of the text in order to affirm, deny or modify the pre-reading analysis and to produce six evaluation statements.
Reading a book is a serious detailed approach to the understanding of what the author is saying. It is an approach which says the book deserves to be read in a detailed enough way so you are able to give evaluation statements about the book as a whole. When you have read a book you have an overall grasp of the book and can discuss it motivationally with a potential reader. You will be able to discuss six kinds of evaluation statements which are described below. You will have, if appropriate…
- Shown where the author is uninformed in his/her writing, (i.e., examples from the book where the author draws conclusions without considering all the facts).
- Shown where the author is misinformed in his/her writing, (i.e., instances/examples from the book in which the author draws conclusions based on false information).
- Shown where the author is illogical in his/her writing (i.e., examples from the book in which the author uses faulty reasoning in arriving at conclusions).
- Shown where the author’s analysis or account is incomplete in terms of his/her statement of purpose in writing the book (i.e., an evaluation of the author’s accomplishment of purpose in writing he book.)
- Shown the author’s strengths in his/her writing, (i.e., reference to useful quotations, point out any strong arguments or explanations, and point out concepts which can be transferred to your own experience).
- Shown the relevance of the book to today’s needs, (i.e., application to various life-situations to which the book can be applied. You can point out the kind of reader who will profit the most by the book).
Studying a Book
Studying a book requires the most detailed kind of reading. Studying a book is a special in-depth approach to the reading of a book which involves pre-reading, reading, and background research on materials and ideas used in the book. It involves the ability to do comparative evaluation and original research on materials and ideas used in the book.
When you have studied a book you will…
- Have done the four pre-reading statements.
- Have arrived at appropriate evaluation statements from the six evaluation statements normally considered in detailed reading.
- Be able to discuss the book analytically with another reader.
- Be able to evaluate the other reader’s analysis for clarification, modification, etc.
- Have researched original materials quoted in the book for evaluating accuracy.
- Be able to compare the book with other books dealing with the same major subject so as to show similarities, differences, unique contributions, etc.
I hope the information on continuum reading concepts will inform your reading practices going forward. I strongly recommend you acquire this handy guide by purchasing Reading on the Run: Continuum Reading Concepts by J. Robert Clinton, 1999, Barnabas Publishers. There is much more detail including examples of each reading method as well as feedback on each method. There is also information in this valuable resource for writing a book review using reading continuum concepts.
In the last post I introduced you reading on the run; continuum reading concepts. Not every word of every book or article requires reading. What you read and how much you read depends on the material being read. As J. Robert Clinton declared, “One can read different books (articles) differently and obtain useful information without having to read every word of every book (article)….Continuum reading concepts teach one how to pick and choose which words, paragraphs, pages, chapters and sections are to be read, and how to read them for information without having to read every word.”
Six reading intensities were identified in the last post, the first two of which were explained in greater detail – scanning, ransacking (see the previous post for more detailed information on these first two levels), browsing, pre-reading, in-depth reading, and studying. Let’s pick up where we left off again in the words of the original author.
Browsing id dipping into certain portions of a book to study in detail some discussion of a topic in its contextual treatment. Having scanned a book you may decide that you are relatively familiar with the material and want to explore in some detail a given topic of interest. Detailed reading of an extended portion (or portions) of a book is what is meant by browsing. Often you will discover browsing material when ransacking for a new idea (concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc.)
When browsing prepare evaluation type questions on a limited portion of the book you are reading organized around the concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc. you are seeking to explore. The following questions are helpful to browsing…
- What did the author actually say on the subject of interest? Resist initially to read into what the author is saying.
- How well did the author say it (what definitions, examples, figures of speech, cogency of argument, substantiation) was employed?
- What did the author leave unsaid? What lingering questions remain in the mind of the reader that should have been addressed?
- How does what is said by the author compare to what you have read or learned elsewhere? How does the material differ or contrast with what has been said elsewhere?
- How useful is the information? What new insights are gained? What new perspective has been achieved? How will what has been learned be operationalized?
Pre-reading a book is a special kind of survey of a book which involves drawing implications from various portions of the book as to the thematic and structural intent of the book. Pre-reading a book indicates a serious intent to understand an entire book. When you pre-read a book, you are seeking to find out the overall thematic content of the book and to see how the author is structuring the material to develop the thematic intent.
Structural intent refers to a recognition of how the author uses each portion of the book to contribute to the subject or major ideas of the book.
Thematic intent refers to a single statement that weaves together the main subject of the book and each major idea developed throughout the book.
You pre-read a book when in your scanning, ransacking, and browsing you determine that the book is well written and has developed an important topic in and organized manner. In pre-reading a book, you will be doing your best to identify a single statement of what the author is saying without reading the entire book. It is a special kind of survey which requires careful thinking and extrapolation based on a limited amount of information.
The skills to do this are developed only with practice. After you have pre-read several books and then have followed with reading (the entire book) and discovered how well your pre-reading agrees or disagrees with your reading, you will develop skill and confidence in your ability to pre-read.
When you have pre-read a book you will have tentative statements describing…
- The kind of book being pre-read.
- The author’s intent and methodology.
- The author’s thesis which involves the major subject and supporting major ideas.
- The intent of each major section (or minor where necessary) and how they contribute to the thesis statement.
The last two levels (in-depth reading and studying) will be covered in the next post.
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body (Ecclesiastes 12:12).”
Have you ever felt there is not enough time in the day to read what needs to be read? Emails, postings, articles, studies, and books clamor for our attention. How can a leader possibly expect to stay abreast of the hurricane of information relevant to one’s calling or profession?
“Leaders need to be able to process large amounts of reading materials since the leadership field is so broad and so much requires comparative skills.” J. Robert Clinton
My mentor, J. Robert Clinton, introduced me to Continuum Reading Concepts – “useful to direct a reader to process vast amounts of information at some level of acquisition and lesser amounts at more in depth levels of acquisition and evaluation, with an ultimate view of identifying and using concepts in one’s own leadership.”
“Most people learn to read by reading every word on every page. The Reading Continuum is based on the assumption that one does not have to read every word in order to benefit from the information. One can read different books differently and obtain useful information without having to read every word of every book.”
The continuum has at the right the most detailed level of reading – called Study. At the left is the lightest kind of reading called Scan. In between are various kinds of reading each increasing (in terms of depth, intensity, time invested, amount covered) as one moves to the right. Each level to the right includes the various features involved in all reading levels to the left. The ability to read various kinds of books differently is a valuable skill and almost necessity for anyone involved in leadership and leadership training.”
“The Reading Continuum is not related to speed reading skills. Speed reading programs teach one how to rapidly scan words. A person can be a very fast or very slow reader and still use continuum reading concepts…these concepts teach one how to pick and choose which words, paragraphs, pages, chapters and sections to be read, and how to read them for information without having to read every word.”
Six levels of reading are proposed; scan, ransack, browse, pre-read, in depth reading, and study. The remarks that follow come directly from Reading on the Run: Continuum Reading Concepts by J. Robert Clinton (Barnabas Publishers, 1999).
Scan Reading allows one to survey the potential value of reading a book without having committed to much time to it. It is the initial approach to reading a book.
Scan reading is an overview approach to reading a book. This involves a careful reading of the table of contents, introductory information, “dust cover” remarks, along with any information on the author which will allow at least a cursory understanding of what the book is about and how it is organized with a view toward determining what further level along the continuum the book should be read.
Scanning also includes “thumbing” through the book to note any conclusions, summary statements, charts, tables, possibility of useful quotes, illustrations, etc.
Some books can be scanned in as little as 15 minutes. Some books may take as much as 2 hours.
When you have scanned a book you will…
- Know who wrote the book.
- Have identified the author’s perspective.
- Know how the book is organized.
- Recognize what the author is trying to accomplish.
- Have identified further assessment reading possibilities (ransacking/browsing).
- Have made a decision concerning evaluative reading (whether to do: e.g. will do now, will do in future, will not do, decide after ransacking or browsing, which level to do (pre-read, in depth read, or study).
When you are relatively familiar with certain topics you may not need to read every chapter in a book but may choose to read very selectively. That is, you may read given portions to see if they add any new ideas or ideas different than those you are already aware of.
Close Ransacking refers to reading while only looking for a pre-selected topic of interest…refers to rapid reading to compare or contrast what is said with some already known idea or ideas in mind.
Open Ransacking refers to reading while looking for new ideas…refers to rapid reading to see if there is some new idea or new slant on an idea concerning some specific area of interest.
Ransack Reading refers to the technique of looking through a book in order to see what it says concerning a specific topic of interest or combing through a book on relatively familiar material to see if it has any new ideas not known to you.
When you have ransacked a book you will have…
- Noted a new idea on a pre-selected topic of interest to you.
- Noted a contrasting or differing idea on some pre-selected topic of interest to you.
- Determined that the book has nothing to add to your pre-selected topic of interest.
- Gained something worth noting which is of interest to you on any topic.
- Determined that nothing of interest to you can be gained from the book.
- Made a tentative decision concerning pre-read, in depth reading, or study (e.g. will do now, will do in future, not necessary to do, decide after ransacking or browsing).
More to follow…Browse, Pre-Read, In Depth Read, and Study. Stay connected.
While at General Electric many years ago I was identified as a HiPot (High Potential). The practice at that time was to select HiPots and send them to GE’s Leadership Development School located in Crotonville on the Hudson for a week if intensive training. Young managers were invited from GE’s 13 core businesses. One hundred managers gathered and taught key leadership practices.
One of the lessons was how to interview potential employees. Questions were presented under four categories (AAII) and were used to assess candidates: analytical skills, accomplishments, initiative, and innovativeness. These questions have served me well over the years. I have used them repeatedly to assess potential employees. Not all the questions are asked. The interviewer selects several under each category.
These questions can also be used to prepare for an interview when you are seeking a position.
Typically, these will be follow-up questions to determine how the candidate thinks through/solves problems. The problems themselves are best surfaced via other lines of questioning.
- Were you able to foresee any of the obstacles you encountered, and if so, what did you do in anticipation of them?
- When dealing with . . . (situation) . . ., what kinds of information did you seek? From what sources? How did you organize it?
- When planning an approach like . . . (situation) . . ., how do you separate the important from the trivial – how do you set priorities? What kind of contingency plans do you develop (or how do you develop contingency plans)?
- When faced with a problem like . . . (situation) . . ., what steps do you typically go through to develop an effective approach?
- Tell me about (walk me through) your thinking process as you dealt with …
- When you think about some things you’ve done well over the last (few years/year), what are you most pleased about? Did that involve other people, or did you do it yourself? Why do you think you were able to get those results? What obstacles or problems did you overcome?
- What was it about doing . . . that gave you particular satisfaction? What was it that turned you on?
- How do you compare your accomplishments with those of other people in the same area (class, work group)?
- Could you describe some of the things you’ve done well during school – as a part of your regular academic program or extra-curricular work? Were there some obstacles and how did you get around them? Describe the work or projects that you feel show that you know how to get the job accomplished?
- What have you learned about your strengths from working on . . .?
- Did you get any clues about your development needs as a result of . . .?
- Since we have only a limited amount of time to discuss your strengths, which strengths do you think stand out?
- Why do you believe you’ve been able to be effective; what personal characteristics/skills/special knowledge has been of particular value?
- How do you handle obstacles when they get in your way and can you give me some examples of how you did it?
- For each of the important pieces of your work (of your assignment) would you highlight an activity or accomplishment that would demonstrate your ability to get a job done?
- How would other people you have worked with describe your accomplishments; how would they describe your strengths and the reasons you have been effective?
Accomplishments that resulted from initiatives will generally be salient and will likely be mentioned. Probes about how a project got started, etc. will help you get at some of this indirectly.
- Would you describe a project or activity at school or work where you were responsible for getting the ball rolling? What was the situation, what did you have to do, and how did people respond?
- Give me some examples of where you have taken the initiative and what led you to do it?
- What kind of information do you like to have before you start on a project? What kinds of sources of such information do you find most valuable or useful?
- Can you give me an example of a project or activity where you started off by yourself because there was no other interested person or because if you didn’t do it, no one else would?
- What leadership characteristics do you have – would you describe them and give me some examples of how you have acted on them, or used them? How would others perceive you in this regard?
Initiative frequently is evidenced where someone has to deal with obstacles or make an extra effort to reach an objective.
- Why did you continue in the race of . . .?
- Why did you think it was important to . . .?
- What was so important about . . . ?
- Tell me about some of your best ideas and what stimulated them? How did you develop them and how did you implement them?
- Tell me about something that you have taken special pleasure in developing, like a new way to do something, a change in a policy or procedure, or a better way to do anything?
- What kinds of situations prompt you to look for new approaches or better ways of doing things?
- Could you describe a situation at work or at school where you took a risk? What prompted you to take the risk, and how did you evaluate it ahead of time?
- Can you give me some examples of risks you have taken and why you took them? Describe the outcomes.
- Under what conditions do you take risks in an organizations setting? What was the biggest such risk you’ve taken in the past year or two, and what was the outcome?
- What obstacles have you encountered when you tried to improve something or do something differently? How did you deal with them?
- When is it appropriate to look for better ways of doing things?
- Are you more effective when you have a set of procedures to guide you or when you have to develop your own way of doing things? Can you give me some examples of this?
- When you started . . . (or, took over such and such) . . . what kinds of changes, if any, did you feel the need to make? Why did you feel that way, and how did you go about making the changes?
- At what point do you settle for a solution instead of continuing to look for a better way?
- What kind of work environments encourage and/or discourage you from exploring new ideas or different way of doing things?
I hope you find these questions helpful as you hone your interviewing technique.
To be continued…