Known vs. Unknown Zone: the Studio/E Map Part 1

Part 1 in a 3-part series.

How do you know when you cross the line between that which you know and that which you don’t know? More and more, as the world is changing at an unprecedented speed, we are spending time in what we call the Unknown Zone — an ambiguous territory in which the tools we use to produce expected results become ineffective.

To better understand the Unknown Zone, let’s take a look at its counterpart, the Known Zone. The Known Zone is that comfortable place in which you know exactly what to do in order to get a certain result. With expected returns comes optimization, with optimization comes scale, and with scale comes the reinforced evidence that plans, data and metrics are effective. This is important information, but plans, data and metrics don’t work when you suddenly find yourself in the Unknown Zone.

Here’s an example of the difference between the two zones (both of which we all spend time in): A hospital knows how to fix a broken arm. They have done it countless times and will continue to do it as long as they exist. This is the hospital operating in the Known Zone, with known inputs and expected returns. 

Step beyond the broken arm and into the broad, undefined concept of being a sustainable partner in keeping patients healthy (also important), and the tools of certainty which the hospital uses to fix known ailments go out the window. This is operating in the Unknown Zone. It’s ambiguous. It’s frightening. And it’s inevitable, so understanding how to best operate in this zone is key.

Which zone are you in?

How do you determine when you’re in the Known or Unknown Zone? The answer is reflection. Noticing your gut reactions to situations, gaining awareness of your confidence in the returns, and paying attention to your physical body will help you identify which zone you are in.

Remember, both zones are important. The key is understanding which zone you are in. We designed the tool below to help you contextualize where you are at any given time and which tools to use in each zone.

Studio/E Map Navigating the Unknown Zone

Read Part 2 (tools, metrics and outcomes of the Known Zone) 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: How do you reflect? Spend a couple minutes doing any of the following reflection practices (or one of your own) and see if you can identify which zone you are in on the Map: Meditate, run, practice yoga, journal, do a gratitude practice, mindmap, engage in a conversation with someone new, find an opportunity not to be in a leadership position, take a walk, play an instrument.

Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

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