No.  It’s not necessarily a contradiction in terms.

Being able to “talk the talk” is really critical.  It’s often referred to as domain expertise.  It defines a Comfort level.

It’s the Cultural Anthropology of the Business

*Intentional* ignorance can be an intelligent strategy:  You free-the-mind for creative ideation, listening to others, and non-presumptive analysis.

Values : What’s Good / What’s Bad

I find that clients identify some of their values & criteria early on in the process – often as “points-of-pain” or “satisfiers”. Hints as to unique domain terminology appear in their brochureware and marketing materials.

When the client drops a domain buzzword or acronym in conversation, I seize that as an opportunity to expose my “intelligent ignorance” by asking for clarification.

Ignorance does not necessarily mean stupidity.

For Example: I’m fairly smart, but also fairly ignorant of particle physics.  And I know that I’m ignorant.  That’s actually sort of … smart.

Criteria : What’s Important

It’s a variation on the theme of “values” – but slightly different.

Criteria really comes down to workflow issues.  Talk with your client about their “day in the life” and the rubber meets the road.

The punchline:

Every client wants you to have done the exact same job before.  Preferably last week.  For their competitor.

If ignorance is bliss, then I’m ecstatic.

Pattern Recognition

UX specializes in finding the valuable, useful stuff … and leveraging it.  This is often achieved by making it replicable.

Patterns imply Intelligence


Access-to-information-in-the-digital-age: We might further differentiate among data,knowledge, and wisdom.

  • Data = Facts
  • Knowledge = Awareness
  • Wisdom = Good Judgement

Data + Knowledge become useful when informed by Experience.

Experience informs Context

Wisdom Police: Mis-information abounds

“Relativism” is nice … but it’s also confusing.  When (Hence: Wikipedia,, and other debunking and “reality check” tools). We’re at a point now where self-serving ignorance has plenty of infrastructure to support it.

Intentional Ignorance

I believe that *intentional* ignorance can also be an intelligent strategy – especially when attempting to free-the-mind for creative ideation, listening to others, – and even non-presumptive analysis.

It’s no substitute for “talking the talk” from the get-go, but it shows interest, curiosity, ability to think on your feet, deference to their knowledge as the SME (Subject Matter Expert), and willingness to ask the right questions.

Intentional Ignorance is a Strategy

Published on LinkedIn : May 2, 2016

(c) copyright John Vaughan / The Communication Studio