The oft-quoted "Knowledge is Power", frequently used by Information Technology Marketing gurus, is actually attributed to Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626). I suppose you could consider the phrase marketing verbiage for Bacon as he published the "Novum Organum" in 1620, which was his treatise on the correct method of acquiring natural knowledge. I'm frequently engaged in debates with my clients about the value of "knowledge".
History is full of "knowledge" that has been proven erroneous with new data. The Earth is not flat (but it was in the 15th century, right?). Man can, in fact, fly (but he couldn't before the Wright Brothers did it). Sub-prime mortgages weren't really good for the economy (but they were for a dozen years or so).
When I present programs to corporate audiences, I frequently talk about the two general categories of people we run into on a daily basis.
The first I term "Knower/Judgers". K/J's can do most of the things they do in life on "autopilot". Sometimes it's skilled things like driving, or playing a sport. And sometimes it's interpersonal such as automatically helping people arrive at the right answer, or being a good listener. When we observe a "K/J", we are looking at someone "the way they are". They've become "who they are" through their history. These observable behaviors can and often are represented by the individual's "natural" DISC profile. Operating this way is incredibly valuable to us in many ways. It helps us do things without having to think about it. If we clearly had to think through everything we do, we'd run out of time and energy. So operating in the "K/J" mode helps us do that. "K/Js" are extremely valuable in our world. They are the people with rich life experiences who "know" the answer to problems. They're the one's who've "been there and done that." When pressed for time, we frequently turn to a "K/J" for efficient solutions to our challenges.
· K/Js store history.
· From this they are the keeper of the "rules".
· They make judgments, sometimes accurate, sometimes inaccurate depending on the correctness of the history stored.
· The actions of K/Js can be perfectly functional or quite dysfunctional based on the rules they use.
· Sometimes these actions serve their user well and other times they do not.
The other type of person is the "Learner/Researcher". L/R's are frequently unsure that they "know" what to do in a given situation...or how to answer. They can be extremely valuable to a team or an organization because they will frequently think "out-of-the-box". Or they can take inordinate amounts of time to develop an "answer". They would rather look something up gathering data than conclude an issue. L/Rs" are the ones that are not comfortable they "know" the answer, and so, will often spend time and resources learning and collecting data. They are valuable to our organization because they perpetually challenge the status quo.
· L/Rs are looking for new and creative ways of doing things.
· They are mathematicians...calculating the probabilities.
· They pay attention to history as a source of data, but are always in the present.
· Their research can lead to brilliant insight or be overly time-consuming.
· Gray's OK....not Black and White.
I point out these two types of people, because in most cases I have both these types in my audiences. And the "K/Js" will identify themselves by their resistance to new ideas (mainly my new ideas!). They'll take what I'm teaching and compare it against what they KNOW (their current knowledge) and it doesn't match. So, to them, I must be wrong. Ever run into people like that? You know that what you are proposing works, because you have done it a dozen times, and the other fellow (or lady!) compares your approach to their personal experience and summarily writes off your solution. This dissonance is caused simply by your history not matching the other person's history.
As frequent readers know, I use a metaphor of the toilet paper roll. Inevitably there's at least one person in my audience who's mom taught him or her that toilet paper is SUPPOSED to come off the BOTTOM of the roll. There are others taught exactly the opposite. They both KNOW they're right, so what are the chances of consensus? Zip! Nada!
Their individual KNOWLEDGES from which they gain POWERS do not match.
Unless we are twins born into the same house at the same time and growing up with the same mentors and the same lessons, the chances that we have exactly the same KNOWLEDGE about a given situation as the other person is extremely low...possibly even impossible.
So, if I KNOW the solution to a problem, what chance have I got to LEARN anything new about how to tackle the situation? As Eckhart Tolle explains in The Power of NOW, (New World Library, 2004, ISBN-10: 1577314808) "There's no room in my narrative for your narrative." Can you see how our KNOWLEDGE sabotages our LEARNING?
My experience is that when you are aware of your KNOWLEDGE (and you can learn to become aware from your patterns of defending your position, needing to be "right", or quickly talking over another's solution with yours in an exercise), you can set it aside and function as a Learner/Researcher....at least temporarily. When you do that, you give learning a chance.
Clarity doesn't have much of a chance when two KNOWLEDGES collide. Think about your past when two K/Js stood at metaphoric 10 paces and kept throwing their KNOWLEDGE at each other. Clear? Productive? I leave you with that.