The curse of knowledge and the danger of fuzzy statements
Fuzzy statements in lessons learned are very common, and are the result of “the curse of knowledge”
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There is a second way in which this curse strikes, and that is what I call “fuzzy statements”.
It’s another example of how somebody writes something down as a way of passing on what they have learned, and writes it in such a way that it is obvious to them what it means, but which carries very little information to the reader.
A fuzzy statement is an unqualified adjective, for example
- Set up a small, well qualified team…(How small? 2 people? 20 people? How well qualified? University professors? Company experts? Graduates?)
- Start the study early….(How early? Day 1 of the project? Day 10? After the scope has been defined?)
- A tighter approach to quality is needed…. (Tighter than what? How tight should it be?)
Imagine if I tried to teach you how to bake a particular cake, and told you “Select the right ingredients, put them in a large enough bowl. Make sure the oven is hotter”. You would need to ask more questions in order to be able to understand this recipe.
Again, it comes back to Quality Control.
Any lessons management system or knowledge base suffers from garbage In, Garbage Out, and the unfortunate effect of the Curse of Knowledge is that people’s first attempt to communicate knowledge is often, as far as the reader is concerned, useless garbage.
Apply quality control to your lessons and de-fuzz the statements
Tags: cognitivie bias, knowledge transfer, lessons learned