Leadership and Formation #25: Too Much To Read

Leadership and Formation #25: Too Much To Read

sitting_on_books_reading_custom_book_md_nwm.jpg“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.”

Slide1.JPGThe 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

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.

Six Results

When you have scanned a book you will…

  1. Know who wrote the book.
  2. Have identified the author’s perspective.
  3. Know how the book is organized.
  4. Recognize what the author is trying to accomplish.
  5. Have identified further assessment reading possibilities (ransacking/browsing).
  6. 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).

Ransack Reading

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.

Six Results

When you have ransacked a book you will have…

  1. Noted a new idea on a pre-selected topic of interest to you.
  2. Noted a contrasting or differing idea on some pre-selected topic of interest to you.
  3. Determined that the book has nothing to add to your pre-selected topic of interest.
  4. Gained something worth noting which is of interest to you on any topic.
  5. Determined that nothing of interest to you can be gained from the book.
  6. 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.

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