Ryan Jackson, 2014 BDC Mentorship Award Winner, Certified Management Consultant, RAMECO Consulting Group, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor
In my travels I have had the fortune of working with a significant number of different people and businesses. When I say different people I mean different talents and strengths, and by contrast different weaknesses as well.
The real challenge I see that people face in the organizations that I work with or speak to is that some “know what they don’t know” but others “don’t know what they don’t know.” Confused? Just wait, it gets worse.
It is generally good if you “know what you don’t know.” These people or by extension their businesses are well served by the “know what we don’t know” group. This means that they can hire or work strategically to their strengths while surrounding themselves or their organizations with people that have strengths that address their weaknesses.
Now, if you “don’t know what you don’t know” that can be dangerous but not lethal. These people or by extension their businesses can be heading into troubled waters either operationally, financially or both and not even know it.
An example of “don’t know what you don’t know” might be a lack of knowledge of their finances or cash flow. They could be generating sales thinking business is great all the while the bank account is slowly shrinking due to poor margins, out of control expenses or both. This is both common and easily fixable with some help if it comes soon enough. Most of the time though the “don’t know what they don’t know” crowd has to get into crisis mode before the help is not only sought after but the lesson learned.
The worst one of the bunch is the “don’t know but pretend to know” crowd. These folks will be the first one to tell you what they think they know but don’t. There is a fundamental lack of self-awareness of themselves and their businesses that defies logic and frustrates their customers and staff alike. The “don’t know but pretend to know” group usually gets taken care of by the marketplace one way or another. It is this group that typically won’t take help from anyone even though they desperately need it because they know it all anyways.
Of course we can all be accused of being in all three categories at one time but knowing what we don’t know is can be your biggest strength.