The “knowledge curse” and mission statements

Having heard of the winner’s curse (See my post of Jan. 14, 2007.), let’s keep cursing. Imagine a general counsel and her leadership team who craft a mission statement (See my post of Dec. 7, 2006 on mission statements and references cited.). The mission statement is replete with abstract concepts along the lines of “client satisfaction” or “low cost – high quality” or “make the most of our assets” or “leverage resources.”

Enter the “curse of knowledge,” because the leadership lawyers understand what they mean by high-level statements, but those who are suppose to be inspired by them hear nothing but lofty, lighter-than-air terms devoid of past reality or future practicality.

If you as a manager know many instances that you have inductively generalized into a broad – but abstract – proposition, you need to ward off the knowledge curse and give specifics to their meaning and import. This idea came from the Harvard Bus. Rev., Jan. 2006 at 20.

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