Knowledge is **NOT** Power! LO12087

Eric Opp (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 11:06:31 -0500 (EST)

I have been fascinated by the recent discussions concerning technology
and values and many of the other threads that have been going in the past
months. I do have to admit that I have not had the time to read all the
threads. There are a few postings along with some experiences in the past
few months that have brought home a significant realization:

Knowledge is **NOT** Power.

Consider some of the phrases excerpted from life:

1. "I am (We are) suffering from information overload"

2. "Textbook answers."

3. "'Experts' tend to perform better than 'novices' at routine

4. "'Novices' tend to perform better in highly unusual and
non-routine tasks."

Knowledge is **NOT** Power. Wisdom **IS** Power. I would venture to
guess that, when this phrase was first coined, books contained very
succinct distilled wisdom (knowledge). You could go to the Library (e.g.
in Alexandria, Egypt) and find the wisdom of the ages contained in a few
volumes. Today we have the potential, which some people use to extremes,
to put out volumes upon volumes that contain interesting (for the present
moment) knowledge, but it is knowledge that is useless for the long term
and presents us with very little on no wisdom. Today, you and I have the
power to create a book that looks like it came straight from a
professional printer, that was created and printed at our desktops, that
contains nothing but useless babble. I am amazed at the offerings of most
book stores these days. I can find hundreds of books that are all useless,
because they contain no real wisdom. Look at the number of books published
in the field of business in contrast to the small hand full of "classics"
that people refer back to again and again.

What is the real meaning or a "Knowledge Worker"? How many "Knowledge
Workers" do you really know, who possess any kind of deep wisdom? This was
one of the facts that struck me from Joe Podolsky's example of the Amish.
We have the "Internet," which is full of facts and information, but how
much "wisdom" can you really find out there?

One of the experiences I had recently that really brought this home was
an MBA level course that I am taking in Professional Salesmanship at
George Washington University. I am the only "non-degree" student in the
course. After getting my Ph.D. (in Physics), I swore to myself I would
never again take a course at a university again. A University teaches you
a load of theory, that never quite works in the real world (because people
are involved). The difference between knowledge and wisdom really hit home
on the first day of class. One of the opening points of discussion was
"What makes a good salesman?" The MBA students could recite chapter and
verse of their marketing texts, but had little "wisdom" about how many of
those theories really play out in different markets in the real world.
"Knowledge" of product, market, customer etc. were cited as the most
important attributes of a good salesman by the MBA types. I simply said, I
disagreed vehemently, since I have a good friend, who is a retired IBM
executive, who was one of IBM's top salesmen for his entire career. He
could literally sell ice cubes to Eskimos. Our standing joke is "I can
sell you a computer, just don't get me near a keyboard. I break out in a
cold sweat if you sit me in front of a computer and do anything!" It's not
the knowledge that makes a good salesman nor a good bicycle rider, rather
it is the wisdom that comes from experience (particularly with other
people in life)! That, IMHO, is also what a business is looking for, when
it hires a consultant to get it "unwrapped" from some particularly painful

Knowledges is **NOT** Power, but Wisdom **IS**!

Eric N. Opp


Eric Opp <>

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