There are Knowns and Unknowns in Innovation: Let’s Manage Them Differently

quote from donald rumsfeld about the knowns and unknowns

This quote is from the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Henry Rumsfeld, who mentioned: “unknown unknowns” (Rumsfeld, 2002).

Since then, people have started using quadrants of knowledge, i.e., known known, known unknown, unknown known, and unknown unknown, to understand and explain the nature of risk but also of leading to an opportunity.

For innovators so much of innovation is hard to detect, it needs discovery and working through these quadrants of knowledge as well. We need to treat ideas the same on how anything needs assessing but it needs to pass through a different thinking about knowledge understanding, as there are ‘known knowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ and we need to prepare for both within our innovation activities.

Our pursuit in life is often the same as our innovation efforts, it is in the search for discovery. Often it happens, that we already feel better equipped for exploring and observing by just getting out of our usual everyday working environment.

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