10 Ways to Discover What You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know

The mindset of innovation is characterized by a deliberate attempt to question what you know and explore what you don’t. In large organizations this manifests itself in a very simple equation; Innovation = reducing errors + increasing insights.

It is this dilemma that plagues most organizations, one that very few of them execute consistently; but it must be done. A great way to visualize how this works is by understanding the edge of your knowledge:

market opportunity matrix

What you know is what sits in your traditional industry, what you don’t know is where you have an opportunity to optimize, and what you don’t know that you don’t know is where you find new market opportunities; where breakthrough innovation happens.

The activities that happen in each of those sections are very different from each other, most only focus on the first two sections. To understand the last section, Mike Brown suggests nine ways to discover the blind spots in your knowledge, I’ve added one more to the list:

  1. Have diverse people around you with lots of interests that don’t match yours.
  2. Listen to what other people are talking about and saying about new things.
  3. Ask great questions of others.
  4. Take every opportunity you can to observe your situation from new perspectives.
  5. Know who you can count on to challenge your thinking.
  6. Surround yourself with people who will talk to you honestly, even when that’s difficult.
  7. Let others share what they know that you don’t know as anonymously or as visibly as they would like.
  8. Always keep the knowledge that you don’t know everything you need to know front and center in your mind.
  9. If you don’t find out at least one new thing you didn’t know that you didn’t know daily, you aren’t trying hard enough . . . so try harder!
  10. Experiment…new knowledge arises when you try stuff.

The shortest path to innovation is through experimentation, there simply is no innovation without experimentation.

Bottom line: You’ll never know if you don’t try.