I have to give credit to the Internet and a few other things for all the knowledge that I have today. But some things have made me think more, especially when you read and see a lot of things around, is when you start realizing more. Recently, I came across Scott Anthony’s article How Knowledge Can Hurt Innovation on Harvard Business Publishing, in which he refers to the Chip and Dan Heath’s 2007 book Made to Stick. He talks about a basic problem:
“People who have deep knowledge about a topic sometimes assume other people have that same knowledge.”
With the kind of things I am seeing, reading and feeling in the recent past, I am somehow coming to a conclusion that YES the above statement does make sense. And I think the above issue has fairly serious consequences (more than just a few people calling you a geek for all your deep knowledge :-))
There are two things to it: 1) the assumption itself that other people have the same knowledge, which can lead to issues and 2) the assumption leading to a sense of “getting carried away” and losing focus. In Scott’s above article, he has listed a couple of examples, with the first one sending the message out very crisp. However, I would like emphasize the importance in my second point as well.
In most cases people/organizations turn a blind-eye and end up not realizing what they actually are doing & for whom, and assume that having the deep knowledge is can ensure success. I also feel a lot of people/organizations #fail because, over time they find it hard to understand why they are doing what they are doing; deviating from what their end objective and who their real customers were. They are so deeply involved in their knowledge, core activities and the way of thinking that they actually end-up losing focus of what they had set-out to do.
I might be diverging into another topic of discussion but maybe I will keep that for another post in detail. In conclusion here, I would say: it is always a good idea for everyone to revisit their objectives of existence; refresh goals statements to ensure they continue to align to the end-vision; and in particular not allow the deep knowledge/expertise to let you lose your focus from the path to success. And thus, avoid the curse of knowledge!
P.S.: I have happily borrowed this blog’s title from Scott’s aforementioned article. Thanks Scott!

Nikhil Nulkar is a knowledge management consultant within Capgemini and is passionate about web2.0, specifically in enterprise2.0 & social media. Want to know what he is up to? Follow him on Twitter