Add to your vocabulary: “DNK.”
And thank the American intelligence services.

“DNK” is a new addition to the intelligence family, apparently following the Iraq WMD “intelligence” fiasco.

Do Not Know.

In the past, the intelligence services were loath to admit that they didn’t know something; their remit is to know things, not to not know things.

But now, if you DNK and say you DK, well, you end up in DDD (deep doo-doo).
(FYI, “all this” and more led to the recent re-assessment of Iran’s nuclear program—but the DNK bit was apparently a big part of the new approach.)

My post, however, is not about national intelligence collection. Instead it is about you and me and our frequent “intelligence failures.” And a plea that we enter “DNK” into our language. Bosses and “brilliant” staffers are very prone to falling into this trap. The boss thinks “I’m supposed to know that”—and is loath to admit that he doesn’t. He seldom lies outright, but he is very inclined to obfuscate his ignorance. So, too, those “brilliant” staffers who are paid large sums to be brilliant, not to not know.

Tip of the day: When you “don’t know,” add this to your vocabulary: “I don’t know.” Maybe as enlightened bosses we can add, “What are our DNKs here?” We can, and should, make it a positive, worthy of praise, to say “DNK” when we DNK.

Tom Peters posted this on December 7, 2007, in Leadership.
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