Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously said, …”there are known 'knowns.' There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that's basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.”
He was basically describing 3 levels of ignorance—lack of knowledge or information.
The 3 Levels of Ignorance
Level 1-Things you “know.”
Level 2-Things you “know you don’t know.”
Level 3- Things you “don’t know you don’t know.”
Level 4- Things you “don’t know you know.”
Steven explains it this way. “Inside of organizations, there is so much untapped knowledge. To combat this, over the past two decades, companies have invested millions of dollars in knowledge management systems. The objective has been to capture the company’s knowledge."
Your organization or church is filled with untapped knowledge.
But as Steven explains there is a problem. “The problem is, the knowledge management databases usually become so large and unwieldy that they are unusable. I can attest from experience that these systems often end up becoming digital piles of untapped information. Finding what you want can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Or, more accurately, it is like finding a specific needle in a stack of needles.”
What’s Steven’s answer to this dilemma you might ask? Reverse Knowledge Management.
“Instead of posting knowledge which sits passively in a database waiting for someone to find it, you post your question to your “community” so that it can be answered at the time of need.”
How much untapped knowledge is in the heads of your staff and teams. We need to become aware of what we know.
I use the acronym- AWARRENESS to describe how organizations and churches can think about their knowledge.
- Ambidextrous Thinking
- Lateral Wisdom
Of those, lets look at Relationships and Networks.
Often times we forget just how important the relationships outside of our department and even our organizational walls can be. Each staff member has a network of relationships that pass outside your walls, which they can leverage to provide insight, help, advice, knowledge, and wisdom for their work.
The relationships developed by each person can provide a myriad of useful outsiders to help overcome problems, create, and innovate.
It’s an inherent advantage of the “network.” These vast arrays of connections and “weak-ties” are combined and blended to create networked churches and organizations. Fluidly moving between physical and virtual networks to communicate, collaborate, and share ideas, collect ideas, data, strategies, and information. Each person being a portal or node to their individual network makes the church or organization exponentially stronger, knowledgeable, and wise.
We are able to maximize individual members’ Relationships and Networks to the advantage of the whole.
Steven says, “Sometimes the solution can be sitting in your knowledge management system…and you don’t even know it because it is too difficult to find.”
Learning What We Already Knew
The answers we are looking for, the knowledge that we seek, may reside within our relationships, our networks, and ourselves. We may be surprised to find out that we have been dealing with Level 4 Ignorance all this time.
By practicing a little “reverse knowledge management,” we may be surprised to learn what we already knew.