Follow Your Nose - Commonplace - The Commoncog Blog

I wrote a series on tacit knowledge in the middle of last year, where I discussed the forms of knowledge that ‘cannot be captured through words alone’. I framed that entire series with a lens that I think a lot of people are familiar with: imagine that you’re a junior employee, and you see a senior person in your company that is much better at some skill that you desire, and you say to yourself that you want to be like her. How do you get there?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I loved this post! Would love to know how people on this forum follow their nose.

To give explicit examples of what I mean, do you follow your nose by:

  • talking to other people and smelling out interesting ideas or unmet needs
  • reading a lot and going down a rabbit hole of research papers/books until you find an “aha!” moment
  • doing things and following the scent of information your actions generate to get to learn something unusual
  • something else entirely

I’ve found the best results by doing things (throwing stuff at the proverbial wall) and seeing what sticks. Curious what others in this forum do!


Mostly your bullets 1 and 2 with a bit of bullet 3 before the pandemic. Now mostly bullets 2 and 3 with a bit of bullet 1.

A lot of what used to show up as problem discussion has morphed into ‘we’re all in this together’ pandemic camaraderie, with a lot of details buried for politeness’ sake. A lot of people hate Zoom, but don’t want to discuss the makings of a better alternative.