You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know Redux

Almost three years ago, I wrote the post, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.” Today, the phrase is still a great reminder to always take a moment to consider the deeply hidden aspects of situations. The point was recently brought home again when I saw the Michael Moore movie “Where to Invade Next.” The name is a bit misleading: it’s really about great ideas created in the US that other countries have adopted successfully. Michael Moore goes to Italy, Finland, Germany, Slovenia, France, and Portugal to show how these ideas have improved their societies and cultures. The “invasion” idea is to suggest that America might benefit from adopting these ideas again. Despite extensive travel, I certainly “didn’t know what I didn’t know” about many of these topics.

It got me thinking about other articles I have come across recently supporting this idea such as “We Are Blind to Our Blindness” from Delancy Place. Also, confirmation bias is a major issue, especially from online information sources such as Facebook, Google Search, and other online news sources. It even has a name now, the Filter Bubble, and there is a Wikipedia article and a TED talk about it. Thanks to Google, we are less and less likely to know what we don’t know.

What are the implications for business? It’s way too easy for employees and managers to not be exposed to negative or even positive information that is outside their “filter bubbles.” The uncomfortable challenging threats and potentially beneficial information is hidden in the wasteland that is known as “the second page of Google search results.”

Next time, I will provide some suggestions for breaking out of the filter bubble. And don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest “DuckDuckGo…”

Robert Reid, Knowledge 1896. Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.