- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

The tyranny of knowledge. Seeking unpredictable answers

The ‘tyranny of knowledge’ is one of these phrases used in a diversity of contexts. It means amongst other things that you are trapped in what you know.

Knowledge is freedom but also a prison. The freedom bit is obvious. I’m interested in the prison thing.

The more one has a defined territory of expertise, populated by people whom you know more or less well, a knowledge club you all belong to, the more of a possible tyranny of knowledge in that territory. Those people (colleagues, team mates, advisory board) provide  more predictable answers that you may think.

When the methods to find things are set, and the places to look for things also set, and the questions to ask are known, the chances of  very successful answers are very high. So are their possible irrelevance.  Your mind will trick you with confirmation bias to see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear. And that will happen even if you shield yourself against it wearing some sort of scientific uniform.

The way out is not rocket science, but so obvious that we don’t do it.

Bring to the party equal number of experts and aliens.
Find people whose views you can’t guess and  run your ideas by them.
Keep your mind in refresh mode. Read alternative topics, even very distant from your expertise.
Invert the questions, ask lots of ‘what if’, re-frame the problems ( a good critical thinking training may help)
Be prepared to irritate lots of people by all of the above
Yes, it’s a pain

All of this pays off.

Innovation has to do with seeking unpredictable answers. The others are already taken