Find the deeper knowledge by searching elsewhere

Something I came across some time ago – I’ve lost the source of the original quote but it still makes sense to me.  It’s about finding truth, not be staring harder, but by looking off to the side.  

“Gödel didn’t believe that truth would elude us. He proved it would. He didn’t invent a myth to conform to his prejudice of the world at least not when it came to mathematics. He discovered his theorem as surely as if it was a rock he had dug up from the ground. He could pass it around the table and it would be as real as that rock. If anyone cared to, they could dig it up where he buried it and find it just the same. Look for it and you’ll find it where he said it is, just off center from where you’re staring. There are faint stars in the night sky that you can see but only if you look to the side of where they shine. They burn too weakly or are too far to be seen directly, even if you stare. But you can see them out of the corner of your eye because the cells on the periphery of your retina are more sensitive to light. Maybe truth is just like that. You can see it, but only out of the corner of your eye.”

I think there are some great parallels here with knowledge management and other forms of depth studies.  Look for things in the tried and true manner and you will find what you are looking for but you will only ever find what you are looking for. And even if you stare at it harder, you still won’t be able to see it. But if you look a little to the side (bringing in other perspectives), you can gain greater clarity and insight and find a deeper sense of knowledge uncovering a deeper sense of meaning.

It’s a bit like the exercise of the unexpected gorilla in the lecture hall where participants are so engrossed in counting the number of passes of the basketball amongst a group of people that they miss seeing a man dressed up in a gorilla walking past.  This also has links to foresight to pick out the weak signals if all we are doing is listening intently to the noise.

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4 Responses to Find the deeper knowledge by searching elsewhere

  1. nkilkenny says:

    Good points. This is where social networking with individuals in other disciplines is often helpful. Within a business it helps immensely for groups to educate each other on their processes. And for the other groups to be open to listening too. For me I’d like to work more with people in both Business Process development, Human Factors Engineering, and Content management (Enterprise Content Management) to develop a better working ecology for KM. However, I’m finding within my own organization that political structures and ownership often gets in the way.

  2. Nerida Hart says:

    HI Luke

    I agree with nkilkenny. Some of the greatest innovations occur when unlikely disciplines are put together. I heard a story the other night about an IT person and a pharmacist at a party got talking about issues in the workplace – the result was a stock management system for pharmacists which helps them manage the drugs they have in stock and replace when required. I think the story was a bit old but certainly got me thinking.
    I know this happens to me when I link up with people outside the KM discipline (if there is one), sometimes my best ideas come from right outside where I would ordinarily go

    Nerida

  3. Thanks Natalie and Nerida for commenting. I agree with using the diversity within groups to bring in new perspectives. But this post is not just about that. it’s also about how we as individuals can get so focused on a particular task at hand that we lose sight of the bigger picture and miss the bleedingly obvious if we were to just step back a little. I remember when I was in grade 4 being so focused on reading a book that the bell had gone and the class had left and I was still there reading it. We need to strike the balance between focusing on the task and being aware of what is happening around us without becoming too distracted…

  4. Reminds me of a quote by de Bono where he says “you cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”

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