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Ideas, beliefs, and knowledge: the progression and an illustration for law departments

To the degree managers don’t make distinctions between concepts, they lose some ability to understand and respond to what is happening. For that reason, value vocabulary – each new word sharpens just a bit one’s ability to discriminate between concepts. The truth is, I relish lumping and splitting: joining concepts that others might not have, such as network theory and client satisfaction, or separating concepts, such as ideas, beliefs, and knowledge. Let me take that trio and do some splitting.

An idea is an awareness that clarifies enough in your mind that you recognize its distinctiveness and can speak about it. “I just had an idea about how to push law firms to submit more realistic budgets.”

A belief is an idea that rests on and draws strength from your value system, even if the analytical evidence for it may be lacking. “I believe that law firms submit much too conservative budgets.”

Knowledge exists where an idea fits with beliefs and has some evidence to back it up. “I have compared several budgets for matters to the actual fees submitted and the budgets were almost always much too high.”

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