Blog: Figuring Out What We Don't Know We Don't Know

Blog: Figuring Out What We Don't Know We Don't Know

Former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld famously said before the Iraq war began "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

The award winning remarks (the 2003 Award for Gobbledygook from the Plain English Campaign) came to mind as I read a question posted recently on an Internet forum: "If we can measure and monitor the tangible benefits within our organization, how do we measure and monitor the intangible ones?"

"The perception of intangible savings is often out-of-reach of most business thinking," the questioner went on. "ICT alignment with the business KPIs seems an oxymoron to most organizations as they forge ahead with developing business strategy and ICT architectures. Whilst they attempt to merge their creations, the business feels constrained by the technology, whilst the technology feels confused by the business's requirements and expectations. Both need to realise that there are more benefits to be gained by working together (ie: BPR meets SOA) than the standard 'touch and feel' benefits."

Just look, the poster said, at the way improved relationships between agencies or departments drive faster outcomes; how involving operational staff in decisions or seeking their input creates a feeling of worth which in turn produces euphoria within the team and, ultimately, higher productivity; and the way common processes, agreed between groups or departments, lead to enhanced performance and a more agile environment.

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