How to Know What You Don't Know You Don't Know

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Finding information has never been easier, and our ability to ask the right questions never harder. Our curiosity has been hijacked by our impatience for the quick answer.

Sit with that for a minute.

Your Valuable Knowledge Pie

What we're missing is the untapped opportunity hidden in what we don't know we don't know.

knowledge pie

We all know how easy it is to get information about anything we want to know.

  • Just hop on over to Google and let an algorithm do the heavy lifting for you

  • Ask a friend who has done it, tried it, asked their friend about it, and therefore, knows all about it

  • Ask a salesperson if their product or service will deliver everything you need before the day is over

  • What If You Were Willing to Slow Down and Learn?

    Successful people are curious learners. They take the time to think, to sort random information into context, and ask more questions.

    Successful people are continually applying information that makes what you know you know and what you know you don't know larger pieces of their valuable knowledge pie.

    Imagine you have a product or service that you believe is a great online offering. Your decision process might begin something like this.

    What you know you know

  • You need a reliable online platform to deliver your offering

  • There are a lot of established platforms available

  • You've never done this before

  • You have friends who deliver online services

  • What you know you don't know

  • How much time it will take to launch your new offering (but you’re sure it won’t take long)

  • You don’t have a lot of time in your day to devote to research so how will you tackle this

  • Will researching these platforms be tedious and time-consuming

  • What you don't know you don't know

  • How to effectively research and evaluate the available platforms

  • Google’s answers are only as reliable and on-point as the questions you ask

  • Google doesn't know or care about the questions you didn't ask

  • Your friends are telling you what  you want to hear

  • Your friends’ offerings and customers aren't at all like yours

  • You are letting confirmation bias influence your decision

  • An online platform adds one more layer of complexity to your technology framework

  • You will need to invest more time than you expect in analyzing search results and buyer behavior

  • Getting found by Google is both art and science. You need to become SEO savvy or hire someone

  • Building a continuous engagement loop with your customers is essential. The online platform doesn’t do the work for you.

  • And so the process begins. You see where this is going.

    How to Know What You Don't Know You Don't Know

    Back to the original subject of this post. We've said this before, but you deserve to hear it often. It's okay to say, "I don't know".

    When you say it to the right people, you open the door for opportunities you never knew existed.

    1. Challenge your assumptions.

    Remember this story I shared recently? Simply checking the corporate bank account convinced this CFO that their company hadn't been breached. Obviously, this was a flawed – and dangerous -- assumption.

    Always be asking yourself "Do I know this is the right assumption?"

    2. Build a network of reliable knowledge sources.

    These are real people you know who have proven experience. The right people are eager to share what they know with you. Call them, email them, explain the problem you're trying to solve. Then sit quietly and listen.

    You might not hear what you want to hear, but it will most likely be the right, unbiased answer you need to hear. After all, isn't the ultimate goal to solve the problem that will lead to your desired outcome?

    3. Dust off your thinking skills.

    Remember back in your school days when you had to write a research paper? Dreaded the whole exercise, right? This torturous  paper had to be a certain number of pages, on a specific subject, spacing just so, and your position had to be supported by reliable sources.

    Reading and compiling information into a finished work were designed to teach your critical thinking skills.

    4. Commit to learning something new every day.

    As Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's longtime sidekick said ---

    "In my whole life, I have known no wise people over a broad subject matter area who didn't read all the time - none, zero. You'd be amazed how much Warren reads - and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.".

    5. Realize the expertise in something doesn't make you an expert in everything.

    Thanks for Your Thursday Visit

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    Tags: Business Strategy

    . . .

    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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