Let the empty heads lead

If knowledge is power, then those who don’t know don’t have power.

Margaret Herrman said, “Power is the ability to change things.” Therefore, those who don’t have power can’t change things.

The bitter reality

Those without knowledge can’t change things.

The question

Who controls the flow of knowledge?

Traditional response

Full heads fill empty heads. The full heads stand up and pour out knowledge. The empty heads eagerly gobble it up like hungry piglets.

Let the empty heads lead

What if those who don’t know control the flow of knowledge? They ask the questions? They control the agenda.

How it might work

Put the empty heads to work doing things just beyond their skill level. Expect them to excel.

Schedule a once a week meeting between empty heads and full heads. A full head has already excelled at things the empty heads are doing. However, the empty heads control the agenda. They determine topics of discussion. They ask the questions.


  1. Hire curious people.
  2. Knowledge is honored.
  3. Learning happens.
  4. Applicability is paramount – no wasted knowledge.
  5. Organizational cultures respect effort, knowledge and progress.
  6. Training is not only preparatory it is participative.
  7. “What are we learning debriefs” are dynamic.
  8. Organizations learn the proper path of knowledge acquisition.

What about

People that don’t know frequently don’t know the right questions to ask. How do the full heads give the empty heads knowledge? The empty heads will figure out the right questions. When they do, answers are golden.

Empty heads may make expensive mistakes. Protect people and the organization from costly failures. Managers can’t let people waste resources and make decisions that don’t have long term benefit.


What are the pros and cons of empowering those who don’t know to control the flow of knowledge?


This post is inspired by a sentence in the book Sharing Hidden Know-How, by Katrina Pugh. “People who needed to use the knowledge should drive the conversation…”

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