We don’t know what we don’t know.

It seems so obvious about “we don’t know what we don’t know.”  When we don’t know something, we don’t even know that we don’t know about it.  Most of the people will just give up trying to know what they don’t know, except Ms. Cheung whom I met in one of my clients company.  She is an accountant.  Accountant is trained with the attitude of preciseness.  Ms. Cheung is no exception.  One day when we were chatting and came across of this famous joke of “we don’t know what we don’t know, so it is not a person fault.”  Ms. Cheung asked me how to make people know what people does not know.  I gave her the easiest answer : “I don’t know.” 

It was not the end of it, unfortunately.  It took me many hours of research and thinking about – how to know what we don’t know.  Please allow me to clarify the sentense first.  If we don’t know something and we know that we don’t know, it gives us direction of searching already.  For example, if we don’t know the answer of what features to put on our new product or service, we know that we need to find the features for the new product and service.  We can go through customer survey, ask our chief engineer, pilot the new design in the market, etc.  This is not the question that we are talking about. 

The “don’t know” that we are talking about is the absolute “don’t know”.  We don’t even know what question to ask at the very beginning.  From the behaviorist point of view, it is an “equilibrium” stage of one’s mind.

 The application of knowing what we don’t know is so important to the success of organization.  At the beginning of every year, the senior management will look at the internal and external environment for the annual strategic direction of their organization.  Resources will be put in to those areas of focuses.  Management will normally made selection based on information on hand and they will not know what they don’t know.  This is the same problem of Ms Cheung.  The finding of ways to solve this problem will help an organization to develop insight into the future.

The focus is not content of the thinking, it is the unconciouses thinking of the mind.  By finding of how a person can know what he does not know will create insight of a person or make self-perfection possible. 

The detail of the findings will be shared in a seminar of “knowing what we don’t know.”


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