I have a great surprise today, I was in line to check my flight to Berlin when the guy behind me say hello to me. Jorge where are you going? I was surprised by the familiarity of the person greeting me. He was Ricardo Villafaña, who I meet around the year 1999 when I was discovering what knowledge management means. Ricardo was at that time a professor from de UDLA in Cholula, Puebla and got involved in a group that we called ADDCOIN, as an association where we talk about knowledge management.

We have several meetings, a lot of great conversations about different subjects in the impact of knowledge in the future of our society. I can tell you that my life since those days has been deeply involved with elements related to knowledge.

Having the opportunity to share with Ricardo a 10-hour fly was a unique experience. Ricardo brought me back to the subject where we had a lot of jumps back and forth between common subjects that we are today involved today. It is data management or data science.

Both of us have been working in the last years in how to use data for different purposes. We share some of the projects that we had been done, when we discover very interested differences:

  • All of the project that Ricardo has been doing are related to government entities in Mexico, from education, health and energy exploring how to improve oil drilling, understanding medical problems in the government health system or find insights of the education in the public sector while all my projects has been related in how to improve the credit score of people, find way to create personalized education programs for executives in the private sector, use social media to create touristic recommendations or explore best ways to help people to buy things online.

These discoveries open to us a good conversation, where we ask how feasible is to develop a culture based of data in Mexico where Ricardo leaves and use the experience of people like me that lived outside of Mexico, in particular I had been living 12 years in Silicon Valley.

You may ask why we want to focus in this question. For me, I see a great opportunity in developing people in Mexico to fulfill the big need of data analysts in the USA. We where looking, what is needed to develop people capable to use the technology available today, where you find all sort of tools to develop scrapping, cleaning, processing and display information using open software. We can include a lot of tools to manage machine learning and process data to do a lot of predictions and forecasting.

Ricardo has been working all his life in education, looking how to develop skills and capabilities and I had been looking how to fulfill needs that I found converting them into business opportunities. In this sense, we have complementary points of view focusing in the same subject. The paths that we followed from the time that we meet in 1999 till today has been going parallel in some sense and away in other sense.

We had move parallel in looking how knowledge is used and applied. Ricardo with the Mexican environment and I with the Silicon Valley mindset. Away in the way that how we see how knowledge is appreciate and valued. In Silicon Valley you find a lot of companies that goes from Google that use the knowledge acquired in how people search for things and how the information is related, like companies like Facebook, Palantir, LinkedIn among others that are capable to make huge amount of money while Ricardo work in projects that ends in reports and systems that seat in the desk of very few people.

This insight open a great opportunity to hold more conversations in how to combine two worlds to create a great capability to develop information and knowledge based products that can produce high quality results, then to find where these knowledge and information is valued in the right way and produce wealth.

At the end of this trip, as usual I found that people thing very much from the learning’s that gets from the environment that each person is surrounded. Great business will come from places that foster great business and focus in government will come from places where government activities are the primary source of income. Mexico has a big problem, government is to much involved in managing things like energy, health and education and surrounded for so many monopolies that the possibility to create new good business is almost impossible. After this conversation, I can understand why is so important that the people in Mexico look outside to get the opportunities to make inside.

The mix of jumping back and forth ideas and visiting places or much better living abroad is something to make things happen. I really invite you to explore how to change your own world with the connections and experiences that you are surrounded today. The world is going to be a better place because you made today just one thing that is different – doing small learning experiments every day, will carry over a huge change after your long journey.

Published first in https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/re-encounter-knowledge-jorge-zavala