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A little eternal knowledge is a dangerous thing

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Unknown truths

Dressing up such statements as knowledge sometimes is just a way of saying that we think they’re important. They get far more in the way when we tell ourselves that they always apply. So, sure, the customer is always right, but how about that guy who keeps returning cellphones that he used in the shower because he insists all cellphones are supposed to be waterproof to a depth of 5 meters? No sane store should sell this customer their fourth phone.

Even if our business knowledge were as eternal and omnipresent as Newton’s laws, we’d still have to apply that knowledge to a world that is unfathomably complex and ever-changing. Applying perfect knowledge to a world such as ours doesn’t and can’t provide results as reliable as the knowledge itself. You may apply the eternal laws of physics to “future-proof” the roller coaster you’re building in your theme park, but those unchanging laws won’t protect you or your customers from an unnoticeable defect in one of the carts, or someone doing something idiotic to show off to his date.

Framing business in terms of knowledge with a glow of permanence can get in the way of our seeing the world as it is, with all its unknowable risks, opportunities, and complications.

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