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Are You in the Know?

By in Performance Management

I came across a great little poem a couple of years ago that just about sums up the way that many of us manage, coach and train others – what do you think?

This poem might have inspired Sir Humphrey in Yes Prime Minister. I remember a sketch where the Prime Minister knew he did not know something, but did not know what it was. The Prime Minister, James Hacker asked Sir Humphrey what it was that he knew that he knew that the Prime Minister did not know.

Sir Humphrey replied with a line something along the lines of, “Prime Minster, I don’t know what it is that you do not know that you think I know. So how can I tell you what you think I know I know that you do not know? Now, what is it you would like to know that you don’t know, but you think I know?”

Here is the poem:

There is something I don’t know
That I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know,
And yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know
And not to know what it is I don’t know.

Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-wracking
Since I don’t know what I must pretend
To know.

Therefore, I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
But you can’t tell me what it is
Because you don’t know what I don’t know
What it is.

You may know what I don’t know, but not
That I don’t know it.
And I can’t tell you. So you will have
To tell me everything.

As managers, coaches and trainers, how do we check that we know what people know and what they do not know? If you have a moment, drop me an e-mail and share your thoughts because I know you must know some things that I know I don’t know that I would like to know!

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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