Is Knowing Obsolete?


I only pose the question because I came across it in “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger who stumbled across the work of Dr. Sugata Mitra, who has, for years, been conducting very interesting learning experiments in India. Perhaps you’ve heard his story of the “hole‐in‐the‐wall computer,” which got some attention about a decade ago. Dr. Mitra wanted to see what would happen if he installed an Internet‐connected computer at kid’s‐eye level in a wall that faced out onto the street of a New Delhi slum. He encouraged young, uneducated, children in the neighbourhood to play with the computer, but didn’t teach them how to use it. Before long they’d taught themselves (and their friends) how to surf the Web, play games, and even, eventually, solve complex problems that Dr. Mitra served up to them..

Dr. Mitra says, that particular question was framed for him by Nicolas Negroponte, former head of MIT Media Lab. It’s an idea that is central to the Beautiful Question book: That in a world where everything is in flux, static knowledge begins to lose value. We must constantly update, change, replace, or adapt whatever knowledge we have. That means we must keep learning ‐ and keep questioning everything.

This got me thinking. My life has been one of continuous self‐development that continues to this day (I would not have recently listened to ”A More Beautiful Question“ if that were not the case). I have no desire to stop learning; whether that is life lessons, business or about my lifelong golfing hobby! However, I think I am blessed with a brain that that likes to apply knowledge. I have never been particularly good at retaining pure knowledge, but I have an aptitude for applying knowledge and understanding the application of knowledge!

Knowing is only part of the equation. If I said knowledge and expertise, would the difference be easily recognised by most people? To me the difference between knowing (knowledge?) and expertise, or know‐how, is the ability to use the knowledge. Knowledge is available everywhere today and easily accessible. The real value of knowledge in the world is the ability to apply that knowledge to solve problems. Knowing is not enough! To know and not to do is not to know!

In the business world this is quintessential. Pure knowledge adds little value, the application of knowledge, know‐how, is the key to success. At Tinderbox this is exactly what we offer the business owners we work with. We have helped almost 300 owner‐managed SME businesses to be more successful. We have done this through our knowledge, expertise and resource. Using our know‐how to assist busy, aspirational business owners to achieve their ambitions and providing helping hands to support the workload.

Knowing might not be obsolete but it is certainly not enough.

Article written by,

Graham Lawes

Tinderbox Area Development Director

07388 323017