Which Hat Are You Wearing When You Research?

After many, many hours spent reading, reviewing and critically evaluating material that is relevant to our jobs — and our lives — this is what we have learned.

We know it is virtually impossible to remain vigilant and critical of everything that comes across our screens and desk. Somehow, scrolling has become meditative. That’s why we find ourselves doing it – often mindlessly – when we’re supposed to be doing other stuff. We look at recipes when we should be looking at reports.

Each time we log on, surf, or click we wear a different ‘hat’.

The hat you wear when you search Facebook is different than when searching LinkedIn, or at least it could be. The hat you wear when you’re looking for a new guideline for a particular committee is different than the hat you wear when you are researching a new way to cook chicken, or at least it should be.

Here’s an example. In your current role, there are likely times that you wear a program administrator hat. In that case, you are likely interested in reading articles about HR practices. Later in the week, you may be providing services and so are in ‘worker bee’ mode and are interested in articles relating to logistics and practical implementation. Finally, as you prepare for a board meeting, you may slip into ‘executive decision maker’ mode and need articles that relate to cost and ROIs.

So, the very first thing to be aware of when searching is which persona you need to adopt before you begin reading — which hat you need to wear. Trust us, this is perhaps the most difficult filter to actively be aware of. The next time you open Google, Firefox, or DuckDuckGo, decide which of your many hats you are going to be wearing.