Image and T-Shirt by Origin68

Orson Welles’s first film was Citizen Kane. It’s still considered one of the most famous and highly-rated films, partly because he deployed innovative cinematic and narrative techniques. In an interview in 1969 with Huw Wheldon, Welles explained where he got the confidence to make this new kind of film:

Welles: Ignorance, ignorance, sheer ignorance – you know there’s no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession, I think, that you’re timid or careful.

Wheldon: How did this ignorance show itself?

Welles: I though you do anything with a camera, you know, that the eye could do and the imagination could do and if you come up from the bottom in the film business you’re taught all the things that the cameraman doesn’t want to attempt for fear he will be criticized for having failed. And in this case I had a cameraman who didn’t care if he was criticized if he failed and I didn’t know there were things you couldn’t do, so anything I could think up in my dreams I attempted to photograph.

Wheldon: You got away with enormous technical advance, didn’t you?

Welles: Simply by not knowing that they were impossible, or theoretically impossible.

Embracing ignorance allowed Welles to challenge the boundaries of existing knowledge and develop innovative techniques still utilized in today’s film-making.

While organizations are racing to embrace Knowledge Management and deploy systems to benefit from it, enterprises that engage in creative and innovative activity need to consider ignorance as a virtue. Accumulating and managing knowledge can become a dangerous trap when it just reinforces biases and don’t drive organizations into new ways of thinking and approaching challenges.

Knowledge Management has to find the perfect balance between deploying existential information, eliminating knowledge that has run its course and embracing ignorance in the pursuit of creativity and innovation.

There’s a reason why companies are looking for fresh blood all the time: They need to get new ideas and new assumptions into the system in order to continue to be a living organisms. Too often, new ideas and new brains are being streamlined quickly to ensure the system doesn’t break and everybody can continue on their merry way.

Enterprises need to develop systems embracing ignorance as a corporate virtue and integrating Ignorance Management into their Knowledge Management system. Human knowledge is limited, human ignorance has no boundaries. Strategic Ignorance Management will transform your business and turn your workforce from order-taking drones to creative contributors.