Knowledge is Not Capability

The feline in the photo is my daughter’s cat. The cat is reaching for the door knob because she has learned through observation that humans in house can open doors by doing something to that knob. But when she places her paws on either side of the knob nothing happens. Her paws cannot grasp the knob to even begin to turn it. The door remains closed and her knowledge of how to open a door is in vain.

Building capability in any type of work requires practice, and often innovations required by our unique situations that general knowledge does not anticipate. It doesn’t hurt to have support from someone who has traveled a similar path. In the case of my daughter’s cat and as someone who has become proficient in opening unlocked doors, I can recognize that a simple innovation of replacing the knobs with levers will allow me to help the cat adjust her knowledge of door knobs to that of using door levers. My guess is that she can learn to pull down on the lever and open a door. I won’t test that hypothesis because having a cat walking around the house opening and closing doors is weird.

Knowledge intake, through observation, reading, and discussion is an important first step in building capability. The real capability gains are achieved through practice and the necessary innovations the practice reveals.

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