Raph’s Blog

I Don't Know

Many people who come from command and control working environments have a very limited circle of safety. This maybe because their suggestions have been discarded rudely, being treated poorly, or always fearing for their job. They do not suggest improvements and are often too scared to ask for help.

source: Wiki Commons

When working in environments like this that are trying to change for the better. One of the things we can do is say “I don’t know”.  Of course there are two things that follow this statement. Either stopping and ending the sentence, or continuing by suggesting that the unknown is temporary. For example:

“I don’t know, but I will learn it”
“I don’t know now, but I will find out”.

These powerful words can make several positive changes to culture. These words show others that it is OK not to know something as no one in the world knows everything. These words expand the circle of safety for team members so that they know that they can be transparent and ask for help when needed.

It also creates a culture of honesty. By saying that you “don’t know”, you are basically admitting that there is a missing piece in your knowledge. Others may be confident that they don’t have to know everything, raise blocking issues early, and be more open with personal interactions.

Finally, it can help with a culture of continuous learning. A culture of learning can suggest that learning stops, a culture of ‘continuous’ learning suggests that it is an ever-receding finish line, and the only way to identify that learning is needed is to identify gaps in knowledge and taking action to fill those gaps.

Once again thanks for reading and I wish you all a happy 2018.