Friday, September 26, 2014

Knowledge is power - Is it true or just a myth?

Knowledge is power
Albert Einstein is a powerful figure
because of his knowledge
When I was a kid, people said that knowledge is power. So we must have knowledge in order for us to be successful. Is it true or just a myth? Well, I think that it might be true for the past generation because those who have knowledge at that time are those who are successful. Think about it, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Al-Farabi. These are those who make it big and his name was made known to the rest of the world. They don’t create any product or services, but they founded some knowledge that most of us still learn in this new world.

Things already changed
However, somewhere in 2009, I heard in a seminar, the speaker said “‘Knowledge is power’ is the biggest lie that I ever heard. Knowledge is potential power, but knowledge with application is power.” Well at that time I think that it make sense. If you have the knowledge but you did nothing with it you are absolutely added no value to people. I have studied engineering for 5 years but I am no good engineer because I only practice it for only 3 years and that knowledge that I have now, doesn’t make me any powerful. However, I don’t believe that the mantra ‘knowledge is power’ is the biggest lie. I just think that it was outdated. It was true before our generation, but because of the environment have changed, knowledge is power is no more relevant. What are more powerful is to take action from our knowledge. Because there are information overload due to the internet, we don’t have to be knowledgeable, but we just need to know how to get that knowledge. And most importantly is what we do with that knowledge. The key word is to take action.

What are the impact?
Looking towards the trend now, I do think that everybody can obtain knowledge easily. Universities in the past concentrating on providing knowledge to people. In the past, the bigger the library the more reputable the university was. But nowadays, people are looking at what the university can produce. Some university changed their theme to ‘Where knowledge is applied.’ The more a university can produce marketable graduate, the more powerful the reputation of the university. Not only grade, but what the graduate can contribute by the action that one might take. 

Steve Jobs - the dropout who
saw the opportunity and took action
And some people who never went to any university or perhaps drop-out are the one who are the most successful in the eyes of the public. Steve Jobs, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar are the classic example. They don’t have any paper qualification, however they are super successful just because they took action. Some of the action are really no brainer, but they earn so much money and respected by the society. Some people just sell kebab in kiosks but managing 650 outlets and make a very good living out of it - Hendy Setiono of Kebab Turki Baba Rafi.

And things are constantly changing
Now, whoever take action and come out with a good product will not necessary be the most successful company in the world, because next week someone will copy. Because of technology, a person can copy by looking at what you do and duplicate it in a very short time. You don’t have to search through the thick yellow pages to get all contacts of vendor. If your business is stagnant and making money, someone will try to copy your business, re-brand it and claim that are theirs. When Tutti Fruiti came into the market, there are so many copycat rival enter the market and offer something which is almost the same to the customer. In today’s world who ever innovate will outperform their competition. Action is not enough, but if you can innovate, you will be successful. Airasia just continuosly innovate. That is why even though so many copycat of low budget air carrier enter the market, Airasia is still a powerful organization. If you stick with your old rule of success or old winning strategy you might be drowning very soon in the modern innovation culture. Action is not enough, you have to innovate.

But what will happen it the future? 
Will applied knowledge still a powerful thing? Will innovation still be the in thing? Well it might not be necessary true. Again things will change in the future. But what are the things that will be changing? My bet is the customer service and company culture. People can steal your product, idea and business model. But people cannot copy your company culture. People can change from whom they bought the product, but people just cannot afford to miss that human touch. When technology become big, some people just miss that human touch. This will be the thing that most people will be lacking. Creating an excellence customer service will produce experience that most people don’t have. The keyword is engagement.

What do you think? 
Do you have different opinion?
Write down something in the comment below.