Earlier blogs have given hints on increasing speed and comprehension. One of our big concepts is that of getting the Gestalt. The Gestalt is the concept that details are easier to remember and comprehension is better by first seeing the big picture and viewing the details as part of it.
Big mistakes are made by scrutinizing a detail and not understanding where it fits in as part of the whole picture. A detail taken out of context can lead to distortion and a failure to see consequences of acting on it by itself.
Regarding our Speedreading Plus™ Technical Reading and Writing programs, I recently read an interesting article that discusses the value of looking at the “big picture” in intelligence gathering activities. The author (a DIA analyst) argues that the “intelligence community must move away from its closed and insular mindset and learn to ‘think big,’ taking greater advantage of open-source, unclassified information and interdisciplinary perspectives.” This is the article: “The Current Debate over U.S. intelligence is Missing the Larger Problem, the Intelligence Community’s Inability to Think Big.” I think that you will find it thought-provoking.
I believe strives have been made towards this end since the article was published but definitely more need to be made. We feel that our work teaching military classes is Mission Critical because we enable Intelligence Analysts to get more information in less time with a higher rate of comprehension. Analysts in intelligence organizations that contract with us learn those skills, and we are honored to perform such valuable work. We think our nation would be safer if training funds were considered more sacred than outdated tanks.
Another example of the failure to get the big picture is road construction. A nearby suburb is building a fancy–and unnecessary–roundabout. One of two bridges used to get into this town and portions of the connecting road used to access other thoroughfares will be closed down for over a year. The citizens will be greatly inconvenienced, and businesses in the area will probably have to close as no one can get to them. What’s more traffic is backing up on all the alternative routes. Those who approved this construction were looking at the detail–the roundabout–but not how it fits into the big picture and all of the other pieces that will now be out of place.
In reading we teach our students how to get the big picture first by using a Layering Process–over viewing the material to get prior knowledge, quickly perusing it to see what is there, and then reading it for the details. Our post How to Study Like You Draw tells how to do this.