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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Koan No. 7


Koan No 7 Implicit Knowledge

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me because as we know, there are known knowns – there are things we know we know. We also know there are unknown knowns – that is to say there are some things we know we do not know.But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld US Defence Secretary.


Poor Donald. This statement won him the top slot in the 2003 Gobbledegook award. Presumably because the hacks who took down his quotation don’t understand that finding out stuff you don’t know you don’t know might be useful. Not a strong point among journalists..Fortunately marketers are of a different opinion. Otherwise the qualitative research industry wouldn’t exist. A primary benefit of the qualitative approach is that it turns up stuff no one has thought of. It has saved lives, careers and reputations over and over. So never be afraid of trying to find out stuff you don’t know you don’t know. And here’s a top tip. Call it implicit knowledge versus explicit knowledge (the known stuff). If Donald had said that then perhaps he wouldn’t have got into trouble.



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