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The Value of knowledge

Posted by Philip Smith on 3 June 2019

It's never about what we know or think we know, it's what we do with what we know. 

Our assumptions and actions are always based on the "knowledge" we think we have or the "knowledge" we perceive others to have, but we should stay aware that there might be same major blind spots in this mix. 

Our assumptions are also often based on perceived wisdom or "truth" we have adopted from others ( experts ) and this is frequently wrong, if not in full then at least in part. 

For example, it is easy to assume that "science" speaks the truth, as their conclusions are supposedly based on fact and the scientific discipline. 

Yet, even a small bit of research will show how wrong this assumption is read Here or check the links provided at the end. 

We all need to navigate in the vast pool of information and ideas that we are swimming in and somehow try to make sense of what is true and what is not.  

Wrong perceptions and assumptions can massively impact everything we do in our businesses, misconceptions are not confined to science, I simply used science as an example.

The daily business press should be a constant reminder of this and the impact it has on business and government efforts in general.

Unfortunately many people are either too busy to bother, or are convinced of their superior abilities and are happy with their assumptions to accept some information at face value, but that almost always result in suboptimum outcomes ( how is that for PC, just impressed myself ). 

To rely only on experts might well be the biggest mistake one could make and should we be convinced of our own brilliance, then maybe we should  read this  and this  as a starting point to enhance our perceptions.

The lesson here is to select our experts very carefully and we might be better served by our own, unrecognised, internal experts, including junior staff members, but then we will have to work hard at improving our listening skills and that is just for starters. 

We need to stay aware of what we do with what we know or think we know, because it might well be the key to our business futures. Maybe a quick review of how much we know about the world would provide a broader context.

There is no shortcut or silver bullet, to overcome any "learned ignorance" we are all exposed to, but a good start is to develop a reading habit. Read old and new books, stimulate the brain and the imagination, exercise that "muscle" we carry in our heads, and before long your entire world might become simpler and easier. At the same time spend more time with people who will challenge your thinking, rather than those who will agree with it.

As a last resort, to test the brilliance of your self-perception, find a friendly 5 year old and explain to them what your job is all about in a language they can understand and explain back to you. 


Good luck and keep reading


Links included from top down

Big Science is broken

The Crisis of Science

Germany sees sharp rise in 'fake science' journal publications report

How computer-generated fake papers are flooding academia


Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible.

Unskilled and Unaware of It

How much do we know about the world


Philip SmithAuthor:Philip Smith
About: Philip specialises in getting projects and businesses that are not performing as well as expected, back on track.
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Tags:Lessons from a 5 year old