"Knowledge is power"—a statement I wholeheartedly agree with, albeit with a small caveat.
Knowing isn't a binary yes or no; it's a continuum.
And so are the benefits that come with it.
To truly know something is to get to know it in different ways.
I can take a book and read about a specific yoga pose, it's history, and how should it be done. But can I claim to know it if I never take it beyond that? If I don't try and experience it myself? If I do not see it, and show it?
How about more businessy example?
I can take a book on innovation, and read all about how it should be done, from strategy to execution. But will that make me an innovator?
Can I claim that I know how to innovate if I've never came up with an idea, worked it, and transformed it into something that creates value? If I never experienced the ups and downs of the innovator's journey? If I never practised what I've read about?
And for those things that I did get to know, can I remain stagnant and continue to claim that I truly know them?
Understanding my customers, my own business, community, competitors, market, industry, geopolitics, ecosystem, etc., is a potent source of competitive advantage.
Knowing how things work, react and interact, what might they bring about, makes for better decisions, a quality all business leaders should aspire to.
But knowledge is transient. Temporal. Fleeting.
What was true a decade ago, might not be true today. And what is true today, might not be true a decade from now.
Therefore every individual and organisation that wishes to remain competitive, to grow and thrive, must be continuously learning.
And this learning must be in a multitude of ways:
- understanding and creating theories,
- enacting them in the world,
- experiencing the outcomes that follow, and
- then updating the theories, repeating the cycle forevermore.
Think of it as a spiral, a drill into the opaqueness that surrounds us.
To leverage that knowing as a source of competitive advantage, the learning must be proactively documented and disseminated.
It must become alive in the organisation, allowing individuals to get to know on their own, and then feed back their own learning.
A true compounding effect; a genuine long-term strategy.