Number 100 and the Half-Life of Knowledge

oceanex-100-years‘Half Life’ is normally associated with science, where it indicates the time required for a quantity to fall to half its value as measured at the beginning of the time period. In physics this is normally related to the time it takes for an object to lose half of its radiation levels. However Half-Life has inspired many and taken all kinds of new forms from a video game, to a comic character, movie, novel and even the title of a song.

Half-Life is also associated with knowledge where it generally indicates the time required for the knowledge of facts to have been proven wrong or lose its relevance. Samual Arbesman in his book the Half-Life of Facts argues that everything we know has an expiry date and goes on to explain that often what we think is true now, is proven wrong at some point in the future. 

In business and certainly in business literature this also seems to be holding true. Ponzi and Koenig argue that if after 3–5 years the number of articles on the idea in a given year decreases significantly then the idea is most likely a “management fad”. Who doesn’t remember the infallibility of topics like Total Quality Management, Japanese Kaizen, One Minute Management, ISO 9000, Business Process Re-engineering, Delayering, Management by Walking Around, Matrix Structures and my all time favorite ‘FISH!’ philosophy?

The moral of the story: Whatever you think holds true today doesn’t necessarily hold true in the future.

For me as a consultant this realization holds even more relevance as companies and leaders pay me for the specific skills and knowledge I have on, in my case, transforming top teams, top talent and organizations. I realize that the value I have for an organization also has a half-life. I can only add value for a certain period or activity for which the organization doesn’t have the knowledge and skills in house. Over time the need for that skill decreases or if it doesn’t the company develops it in house. The only way for me to stay in business is to keep myself relevant to current customers by always re-inventing myself and to stay ahead of the knowledge curve.

And this is where Engage Asia and my blogs come in. Forcing myself to write and engage you has given me the opportunity to:

  1. Explore new ideas, concepts and opinions through other people’s books, blogs and articles on the most eclectic topics possible
  2. Share this knowledge with others and
  3. Learn (the best way to learn is to teach others)

This is my 100th blog post and you reading (some of) them has given me not only the opportunity to do the above but also made it worthwhile. I wanted to thank you for your readership, comments and encouragement. It has been an amazing journey so far and I am looking forward to your continued readership.

Happy Reading but above all Keep on Learning – you never know which half of your knowledge will expire.

– Paul Keijzer

You may also like:
Is Following Your Passion Overrated?
Who Did You Learn Most From?

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4 thoughts on “Number 100 and the Half-Life of Knowledge

  1. Congratulations Boss !

    “Whatever you think holds true today doesn’t necessarily hold true in the future”. is very true. The fear of “becoming outdated” keeps triggering from within, giving energy and passion to explore new ventures as there is so much in the world to learn and life is very small 🙂

  2. Hi Paul,
    Interesting article and most importantly the courage to challenge oneself and. Sharing it with others is quite commendable.

    I am sure the keenness you have in always exploring and sharing new ideas with the perspective of adding value to Your audience would always extend the half life of your novel ideas beyond 100!

    Thanks
    Syed

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