Let’s continue exploring unknown unknowns in 2022


Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Written by Gwenola Michaud 


Let’s continue exploring unknown unknowns in 2022


Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Writen by Gwenola Michaud 

unknown unknowns, exploring, 2022

Not knowing what we don’t know can be unsettling. We tend to remain in our comfort zones. It is only through interaction and collaboration that we can start exploring unknown unknowns and be curious about the opportunities they bring.

Known known – Knowledge

In geophysics, we are driven to improve the signal of interest from recorded measurements. The signal we want to process is often enhanced by modelling it or by identifying and removing some noise to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal of interest. In data analytics, the known known is the identified information known to exist in the data. This is the expected knowledge contained in the data. In daily life, what we know is our expertise, which we strive to improve continuously through learning and experience. This is what we hopefully enjoy doing and are paid to do. Knowing what we know interfaces closely with what we don’t want to know to keep focused on our life or work goals.

Known unknown – Collaboration Opportunities

In geophysics, we have many known unknowns, such as the subsurface properties on which we focus our analyses. This is the limitation of our knowledge at a given moment. A known unknown in project management is also identified as a risk, while in data analytics, it could be a missing data entry. The solution is then to complete the missing information by deriving it from other sources and improving the data quality. For example, an unknown state or town can be derived from a known postal code. In daily life, knowing what we don’t know, don’t want to know or don’t know yet helps to remain focussed on what is important for us right now. It can also drive us toward collaboration with people more expertise than we have. This is an area where delegation or collaboration can start.

Unknown Knowns – Untapped Knowledge

This is the knowledge we don’t know or haven’t realised yet. This is truly linked to the learning phase, bringing us humbling surprise or exciting experience. In this categorisation, a model can explain the data, but we don’t know it yet. So, it requires us to connect the dots and to get to this fantastic moment of realising what this data brings as added value. In data analytics, to bring to light what we should know is the ultimate objective. We aim to get insight from data like never before and to speed up our learning experience. In daily life, not knowing that we should know often happens due to some bias, beliefs or simple unawareness. We can have thousands of excuses for not paying attention to this untapped knowledge. Being aware of this area could bring new perspectives and opportunities. As an example, being part of a community like EAGE can help us get some insights into our untapped knowledge.

Unknown unknowns – Exploratory Area

This is the most obscure one. In business, people may say that you don’t know what you don’t know until it’s too late. But I like to see it as an untapped opportunity or exploratory area. In data analytics, it could be seen as the unidentified information or asset, which needs to be identified through patterns or connections to shed some light on this area. It is then exciting to realise that we can transform some unknown unknowns into known unknowns, leading to new opportunities. In daily life, to explore this area, we need some extra help to realise the existence of different beliefs or models, which could be some new conditions for progress.

The last two years have surely given us some chances to explore this last category. Most of us surely did not know what it would take to go through this period. Yet, we have learnt so much on the personal side and within the diverse organisations we work for, leading us to be stronger and more resilient. We don’t know what 2022 will bring us, of course (unknown unknowns), but let’s continue sailing through these four areas as smoothly as possible, keeping an eye on what we know is important for our family and business (known knowns), what we could collaborate on (known unknowns) and what we could learn (unknown knowns). Let’s keep some time to explore some unknown unknowns as they come along. With this, I wish you and your families a successful and peaceful 2022!

Article initially published in First Break January 2022 in WhatsUp! section.

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360° Energy and Environment Consultant

Geoscience & Monitoring Consulting (GMC) is delivering project management and digital solutions to guide innovative and technical leaders.

Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Gwenola Michaud

360° Energy and Environment Consultant

20 years of expertise in managing people and projects, as well as developing, testing and delivering software solutions to improve team success and business growth.

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