Insight To Foresight

The Unknown Known – Knowledge Grid

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In the world of intelligence, there is a famous quote from Donald Rumsfeld, the former United States Secretary of Defense. Responding to a reporter during  a press conference on February 2002, Rumsfeld stated:

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

This thought-provoking statement attracted both positive and negative criticisms. The statement beautifully encapsulates a model to frame our knowledge around what know and what we do not know. However, there was a missing category. To better understand this model, I made the following interpretation in terms of a Knowledge Grid:

Knowledge Grid


Can you now see the missing category?

In my future posts, I will discuss how to apply data management and analytics in the field of intelligence, using this 2×2 Knowledge Grid.


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