Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously said,
…there are known ‘knowns.’ There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.
He was describing 3 levels of ignorance (lack of knowledge or information) and all churches deal with it.
The 3 Levels of Ignorance
Level 1-Things you “know.”
Level 2-Things you “know you don’t know.”
Level 3– Things you “don’t know you don’t know.”
But Innovation expert Steven Shapiro thinks there might another dimension or level.
Level 4– Things you “don’t know you know.”
Steven explains it this way.
Inside of organizations, there is so much untapped knowledge. To combat this, over the past two decades, companies have invested millions of dollars in knowledge management systems. The objective has been to capture the company’s knowledge.
Your organization or church is filled with untapped knowledge. It is filled with things you “don’t know you know.”
But as Steven explains there is a problem.
Finding what you want can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Or, more accurately, it is like finding a specific needle in a stack of needles.
So what’s the solution?
The answer is community. The answer is your people. The answer is to open up the surface area of potential source of solutions and ideas
How much untapped knowledge is in the heads of your staff, teams, volunteers, and members? Go further, how much untapped knowledge is in the heads of all they people they know?
A “learning church” passionately pursues the goal of tapping into the knowledge of their staff, members, and volunteers. But a learning church goes even further and attempts to tap into the networks each of us possess via our off-line and online communities.
Often times we forget just how important the relationships outside of our department and even our organizational walls can be. Each staff member has a network of relationships that pass outside your walls, which they can leverage to provide insight, help, advice, knowledge, and wisdom for their work.
The relationships developed by each person can provide a myriad of useful outsiders to help overcome problems, create new ideas, and innovate.
The people we know outside our walls can be just a valuable in terms of information, knowledge, and ideas as those inside our walls. The key is to reach out to both.
The inherent advantage of our networks is to use vast arrays of connections and “weak-ties”, combining, blending, and fluidly moving between physical and virtual networks to communicate, collaborate, share ideas, collect ideas, data, strategies, and information.
Each person being a portal or node to their individual network makes the church exponentially stronger, knowledgeable, and wiser.
We are able to maximize individual members’ Relationships and Networks to the advantage of the entire church.
Your staff, your teams, your volunteers are the “living stones” of a networked church…if you recognize it and tap into it.
The typical approach to finding information or ideas usually involves asking your a ministry team at your church or members of your church staff to email their ideas or bring them to a meeting.
The Learning Church approach would ask the staff to not only bring their ideas or information but to reach out through their online social media networks for ideas and knowledge.
So instead of, “Hey team, bring we are going to brainstorm ideas on how to solve__.”
We would ask, “Hey team, we are going to brainstorm idea on how to solve__. Ask your Twitter followers or post this question to Facebook and get some input from your networks.”
Learning What We Already Knew
The answers we are looking for, the knowledge that we seek, the ideas we desire, reside within our community, our relationships, and our networks.
A Learning Church realizes that their is knowledge to be found in their staff, members, and volunteers, but that there is also knowledge to be found in their individual networks of friends and community.
The relationships and knowledge that we have access to outside the church is just as valuable as the relationships and knowledge we have inside the church.
It’s inside and outside. Face-to-face and online.
If you proactively seek to tap into these relationships…your church may be surprised to learn the things you didn’t know you knew.