Donald Rumsfeld, the much maligned former US Secretary of State, explained, in the way that only he could, that “there were things that we did not know what we did not know.” His words were drawn from the ideas of Johari’s (four) windows. Why is this relevant? Let me explain:
Window One: What we know we know – Kid’s love Ice cream.
Window Two: What we know we don’t know – We know that we cannot fly a Boeing 747 (unless we are an airline pilot) we know that we have gaps in our knowledge and understanding which can be filled — on the whole — with training, advice, courses.
Window Three: Things that we do not know that we know – here an example would be an organisation that did not capture the tacit knowledge of its employees, the experiences, the how we do things. You may remember the famous HP story “If Hewlett Packard knew what Hewlett Packard knew then the organisation would be significantly more successful.”
Window Four: Things that we do not know that we do not know – this is a huge area for most business leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and this is an area where a mentor can be of immense help.
The mentor can best help when she has some experience of the specific situation that the executive is working with. When the mentor has a rich understanding — or what we call ‘domain knowledge’ — he is best placed to work with the client.