“Today our knowledge is increasing at breakneck speed, and theoretically we should understand the world better and better. But the very opposite is happening. Our new-found knowledge leads to faster economic, social and political changes; in an attempt to understand what is happening, we accelerate the accumulation of knowledge, which leads only to faster and greater upheavals.”

That’s a paradox of knowledge described by Yuval Harari in ‘Homo Deus’.

The Information Revolution we are living through could more properly be called the Knowledge Revolution as knowledge is our understanding/awareness of information. To know more we must all spend more time on constant-learning. On reflection, all our clients are disrupted in some way.

A lot of it has to do with the transmission of information. The competitive pressure now is to publish first, fact-check later. In the race to be first, accuracy has become a hand-brake, not just for journalists, but for organisations that supply journalists as part of the need to communicate with customers or shareholders.

If it’s not a race between journalists it’s a race against social media: a mine accident must be reported immediately or the news will be broken to devastated families with distressing video from someone’s iPhone.

For democratic governments it’s chaos, generating policy on-the-run while trying to anticipate future events that should require long-term planning, all the while dealing with a cumbersome bureaucracy and hostile opposition.

For start-ups, it’s a race to maintain first-mover advantage because today’s new idea is old hat tomorrow. This means effectively communicating the new idea to quickly find customers, educate the market, establish market share and earn the trust of stakeholders. And to do all this while managing staff, robust business processes and good governance.

For private companies looking for capital, or listed companies engaging with their shareholders, it has never been as important to cut through the cacophony of the financial markets. Responsive communications that engage investors while navigating the compliance hurdles of an ever more demanding regulator, are increasingly a ticket to play.

For the CEO who once was a quiet achiever, there’s the need to take a profile, because now, if a competitor is better in the communication stakes by using his/her profile to promote the corporate brand using a myriad of communication channels, our quiet achiever loses.

For future CEOs it’s now more important to start developing a profile early and be seen as a strong communicator, as it will surely be part of tomorrow’s job description.

All this puts pressure on leaders and future leaders to appreciate the Knowledge Paradox and attempt to stay ahead, and the onus on communicators to be better at what we do.

Peter Wilkinson

Author Peter Wilkinson

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