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What are Known Unknowns?

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Known unknowns are things that you know that you don't yet know. This can be quite useful because knowing that you don't know something is a starting point for research. Unknown things can also play into decision making as they represent uncertainties and risks. The following are hypothetical examples.
Scientists who discover a distant planet but are unsure if it has water.
A self taught musician who knows that he can't read sheet music.
An investor purchases a stock with the knowledge that upcoming earnings could disappoint.

Unknown Unknowns

Unknown unknowns are things that you don't even know exist. This is a dangerous class of knowledge as it is impossible to incorporate it in decision making. For example, bacteria weren't discovered until the late 17th century. Up to that point, people simply didn't imagine that tiny invisible-to-the-eye life was even a possibility.
Overview: Known Unknowns
Things you know you don't know.
A starting point for research.
Uncertainty plays into decision making as it can be considered as a risk or opportunity.
Related Concepts

Knowledge Management

This is the complete list of articles we have written about knowledge management.
A Posteriori
A Priori
Anti Information
Artificial Knowledge
Body Of Knowledge
Corporate Memory
Dispersed Knowledge
Document Control
Document Quality
Domain Knowledge
Information Asymmetry
Information Management
Information Pollution
Knowledge Analysis
Knowledge Audit
Knowledge Discovery
Knowledge Loss
Knowledge Measurement
Knowledge Processes
Knowledge Quality
Knowledge Risk
Knowledge Transfer
Knowledge Value
Knowledge Velocity
Knowledge Waste
Knowledge Work
Known Unknowns
Master Copy
Meta Knowledge
Outside Context Problem
Propositional Knowledge
Situated Knowledge
Tacit Knowledge
Unknown Unknown
More ...
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Types Of Knowledge

The differences between types of knowledge.

Curse Of Knowledge

Why experts have trouble communicating.

Tacit Knowledge

Knowledge that escapes documentation.

Disinformation vs Anti-Information

Two types of broken knowledge.

Knowledge Work

A definition of knowledge work with examples.

Information vs Knowledge

The difference between information and knowledge.

Expert Generalist

A definition of expert generalist with an example.

Qualitative Data

A definition of qualitative data with examples.

Objective vs Subjective

The difference between objective and subjective.

Knowledge Value

A definition of knowledge value with examples.


A guide to management techniques.

Strategic Planning

A list of techniques for developing and implementing a strategy.


The basics of productivity.

Project Management

A guide to project management.

Internal Benchmarking

The common types of internal benchmarking.

Internal Customer

A definition of internal customer with examples.

Business Optimization

A definition of business optimization with examples.

Team Objectives

The common types of team objective.

Internal Stakeholders

A definition of internal stakeholder with examples.

Management Planning

An overview of the different types of management planning.

Management Examples

A definition of management with examples.
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