The Value Of Knowing What You Don’t Know


The Value Of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Category : Blogs

No matter how good we are at what we do, there will always be more to learn. Constant learning and improvement is something that all business owners should do, but there is always a problem – how do you know what you don’t know?

Knowing Our Knowledge Gaps

Everybody in the world has knowledge gaps – they’re just a part of what makes us human. It’s impossible for us to know everything. When it comes to running a business, the number of processes and elements that go into keeping everything running smoothly are mind boggling. At our last 10-12 meeting, we asked one another where we thought our knowledge gaps lay in business, and the answers were really interesting. While one person struggled with the finance side of things, another would mention that maintaining her website was what stymied her. Another mentioned social media as something that completely went over her head, while time management and marketing became an issue for another. Through this discussion we were able to share our knowledge and point people towards experts who could help shore up those knowledge gaps. I would highly recommend going through this exercise if you can, as it can reveal some incredibly useful gaps for you.

The Matrix Of Knowledge

In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld created something called the ‘matrix of knowledge’, which was split into 4 quadrants. These are

Amatrix-of-knowledge. What you know that you know

B. What you don’t know that you know

C. What you know that you don’t know

D. What you don’t know that you don’t know

For most businesses, quadrant A is really simple. We all know what we know. But for some business owners, an outside view (like from a coach, fellow business person or advisor) is needed to understand the other 3 quadrants – particularly quadrant D.

But why is knowing what you don’t know important? Simple, because it stops you making stupid mistakes. There is another theory called The Dunning Kruger Effect, which is defined as ‘cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate’. That’s a lot of complicated words, but what it basically means is that when you don’t know what you don’t know, you can sometimes overestimate your abilities in a given area, because you don’t know any better. The only way to stop this from happening is identifying what you don’t know, and if you can, rectifying it.

When you look at the matrix of knowledge in the context of your business, you will realise that the most valuable knowledge for you lies in quadrant D – things you don’t know you don’t know. Things like a deep understanding of the true behaviour of your clients (instead of what you think they do), a new way of running your finances to save money or a better way to sell to a new market. You can find a lot of this information simply by gathering and analysing big data, or researching and examining information on your business, your industry, your market and the business sector in general.

Understanding what you don’t know is a critical step in improving your business. Doing this you can uncover any holes in your business and start down the road to fixing them, helping improve how your business runs and ultimately your profitability. If you want help identifying your knowledge gaps, or just want to discuss business with like-minded women, come along to a 10-12 meeting and get to know all of our members.