Posted by: reachdev | December 31, 2013

Closing Our Knowledge Gaps

Closing-the-knowledge-gapEarlier today I was washing my hands next to a young father who was helping his 3 year old to do the same. In the middle of their task the boy asked, “What is that hole?” The father was taken aback but soon answered, “That’s a drain.” Moments later the boy took it a step further, “What’s a drain?” Getting into the proper mode the father said, “It’s where the water goes when we wash our hands.” As the dad lowered the boy to the ground and turned off the sink the lad continued his questioning, “Why does it do that?” Now the father decided to take it to a new level, “The water goes down the drain to a place where they clean it up and we get to use it again.” As they dried their hands the conversation stalled and I thought the father had gotten the best of the exchange, but as they turned to walk out the boy asked, “So where does the water come from?” I had to stifle a laugh, and didn’t get to hear the dad’s answer but I had the feeling that the interrogation was far from over! The exchange did get me thinking about my own knowledge gaps and of those with whom I work.

While these capability or knowledge gaps are obvious when we speak to a toddler, they are not always so apparent in us or to most other adults around us. However, they are obvious to someone who has expertise and experience that outshines our own. For example, I have a friend who has done some fine work in the area of organizational goals and strategic planning. Whenever I need him to help me with what seems a difficult client problem, he listens carefully, asks a few pointed questions and then outlines two or three excellent suggestions for solving the problem. And they are solutions that I hadn’t even considered! While he would never say it to me, I’m sure he saw the problems I brought to him as pretty elementary. The nice thing about our relationship is that he comes to me with questions about selling, and I am able to help him with some creative solutions.

So as we look forward to this new year of 2014 here are a couple of suggestions I would make for someone who wants a better future. First, understand where your capability gaps are. You can learn this by talking to peers, supervisors, mentors or your coach. Second, decide to develop yourself in these areas or find others who you can consult with that will fill those gaps for you. What you cannot do is ignore these issues. Your knowledge gaps are noticed by those that come to you for solutions.

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