My wife and I are reading a book by Dr. Leonard Sax, entitled Boys Adrift where he discusses the five reasons why boys are not engaged at school or actively learning as much as they once did. We’re reading it to understand our children better but one of the insights in this book is profoundly relevant for any professional.
There two types of “knowledge” which are out of balance in the English language.
For example, our word “know” is the same for every situation: I “know” marketing and I also “know” my wife. One form of “know” is an academic knowledge and the other is experiential. In other languages they differentiate them and place an equal importance on it. In German, something you have actually experienced is kenntnis (from kenen), “to know by experience.” Knowledge from books is wissenschaft (from wissen), “to know about something”.
As stated by Dr. Sax, “There is a fundamental belief running through all European pedagogy that both wissenschaft and kenntnis are valuable, and that the two ways of knowing must be balanced.” In my work with companies, organizations and helping to oversee the development of employees, I can see where a balance of these two forms of knowledge is critical.
As I thought about this subject more there were a couple key takeaways for me:
Balance Professional Development. Younger employees come to work with a lot of head knowledge which is why it’s important to give them the right experiences to further develop their know-how. Seasoned employees usually have stronger experiential knowledge but need more academic knowledge (books, courses, blogs, seminars, certifications etc.) to stay current with trends and combine experience with the fundamentals.
Understand with your Senses. In order to really understand the situation or topic you need to experience it first hand. I can look at the data for why a store is not performing well but I need to walk the aisles, smell the bakery, talk with people, eat the food, touch the displays, and experience the process. With an abundance of information available to us we sometimes bypass, or don’t invest the time to really know, the subject matter with our all our senses. Our senses can help to give us insights that data alone will never be able to provide.
Whether you’re young in your career or a wily veteran this idea of “knowledge” is one that I hope adds to better outcomes and ideas in your own profession.
Have a great day!