May 10, 2009

It is said that little knowledge is a dangerous thing. At times, too much knowledge is even more dangerous! Many a radical and path-breaking ideas can be nipped in the bud due to too much knowledge and experience of the past. For a moment imagine the scene where a young turk diligently and passionately sells a radical and potentially path-breaking idea only to find instant rejection by a seasoned manager with over 25 years of experience. Sounds familiar?

The problem with knowledge, particularly excess of it, is that it is soaked in past. Unfortunately, what worked and did not work in past may be irrelevant to what may or may not work in future. Knowledge of the past and the experience, however rich, can help only if one is in sych with emerging trends and patterns of future.

Another problem with knowledge is that it is not permanent. It is not rigid and unchangeable. Knowledge is the nectar derived from intellectual exploration. The more exploration occurs, the more knowledge is created, at times nullifying the previous knowledge. Knowledge is a great servant if it is approached with an open and flexible mind.

So next time you feel like trashing an idea, think whether you are in sync with times or need to get your knowledge and experience updated. It is said that a Yale University management professor reacted to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service by saying "the concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than 'C', the idea must be feasible." Fred Smith went on to found Federal Express and created history!