Known vs. Unknown Zone: the Studio/E Map Part 2

Part 2 in a 3-part series.

In Known vs. Unknown Zones: the Studio/E Map Part 1, we established the importance and inevitability of spending time in both the Known and Unknown Zones. Now we will take a look at the characteristics of each zone, and the tools and metrics to use in each one.

The Known Zone

The Known Zone occupies the left third of the Studio/E Map above. It’s the space in which the puzzle pieces fit nicely together — a design indicative of what it’s like in this predictable zone. The Known Zone is that comfortable place which provides answers instead of provoking questions, and linear thinking accompanied by predictable outcomes. This is like a hospital fixing a broken arm. The doctors know exactly what to do to fix it, they’ve done it before and they’ll do it thousands of times again. The Known Zone is safe, but it’s not a breeding ground for creative, innovative thinking (that type of creative thinking is what you find when you’re in the Unknown Zone).

Because we all spend time in both known and unknown situations, it’s important to understand which tools and metrics to use in which zone.


At Studio/E, we consider our tools to be Mindset, Method, and Competency, and they differ based on which Zone we’re in. The Known Zone is a comfortable place to be for managers, as it is process-oriented and predictable, so the Mindset that works best in known situations is that of a manager — someone who feels comfortable with plans, linear thinking, competition and expected returns.


Success in the Known Zone is easy to identify. Metrics include return on investment, quality and efficiency measures, and performance to budget. These measurements serve as proof-points for value and accountability and inform future decisions, which brings us to our next set of characteristics in the Known Zone: outcomes.


In this zone you either win or lose (fix or not fix a broken arm). The information gathered after assessing the metrics above help to identify how to optimize and scale the actions that are proven to work when in a known situation. This is why it’s a comfortable place for managers to reside — they can predict outcomes based on the past. And that’s great! But this kind of thinking only does well in this zone. The Unknown Zone requires all new tools, metrics and outcomes.

Read Part 1 (how to know which zone you’re in) and Part 3 (tools, metrics and outcomes of the Unknown Zone) of this series on the Studio/E Map.

Studio/E Mindset Icon

Do this:

Thinking about the tools, metrics and outcomes we just covered, when in your life are you in the Known Zone? For example, when do you find yourself using the Mindset of a manager? When do you measure ROI?

Cover photo by Dan Calderwood on Unsplash

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