It is sometimes easy to forget, but we live in a truly unprecedented period of human history. Thanks to technology and companies like Google, Wikipedia and a multitude of others. We have virtually universal and unlimited access to the world’s information.
It is hard to overstate the significance of that fact. However, it is often assumed that access to information equates to access to knowledge. That is not the case.
Whereas information can be incredibly useful in answering “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions, knowledge is about answering “how” or “why” questions.
Knowledge is one of the most important assets in the modern world. But, like other forms of wealth, it is not distributed equally throughout society. This creates a problematic ‘knowledge gap’.
Unfortunately, for all the achievements of the internet age, technology alone does not and cannot suggest a straight path to answers for these vital “how” and “why” questions, especially when it relates to building something for the future.
What can we do to close the knowledge gap?
For business leaders and entrepreneurs trying to build and grow their businesses, it is these how and why questions that they need to address – rather than the who, what, where and when.
Answers to these questions mostly depend on your context, and multiple true answers may exist at the same time. Often there is no single answer to such questions.
For instance, if you are trying to figure out the best way to raise capital for your start-up, or to find a working growth model for your business, Googling, reading or watching videos can only get you so far. You will ultimately still be left to solve the problem by yourself.
To truly answer how and why questions it remains essential to talk about your problem to people who have raised capital multiple times, or people who have built growth models in the past.
Of course, such people often will not have a straight solution to your problems. But the context, experience that these human connections provide are incredibly valuable. In conversation, you can far more easily see different perspectives that were unavailable to you previously.
Such conversations are transformational because they are about transferring knowledge, not information.
Breaking down knowledge barriers
Such conversations are only possible by establishing emotional connections – as we have seen, despite the awesome power of the internet, technology alone cannot close the knowledge gap.
But that is not to say that technology doesn’t have a role to play.
Part of the problem of accessing knowledge, rather than information, is that we are all stuck in our social bubbles. We tend to associate with people who are similar to us. As a result, it is hard for an artist to get business advice from friends or for an artist to find a knowledgeable person to advise on a real estate purchase for example.
Technology is crucial in enabling people to break out of their social bubbles. Technology can be used to direct people to just the right person who has the relevant experience in a particular subject, providing the platform for people to meet in person or online to share just the sort of transformational conversations that are needed to close the ever-growing knowledge gap and help define business success.
The correct way
Using technology in this way – rather than assuming it is the solution in and of itself – will create better learning paths for everyone.
It can create a community of people who are willing to share and learn from each other with curiosity and empathy.
By co-operating and tapping into the knowledge, experience and wisdom of others we can fuel personal and business growth – and yes, create a better future.