I was intrigued by an article in the Summer 2007 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review titled Discovering “Unk-Unks”, by John W. Mullins.

“Unk-Unks” is an engineering term that means unknown-unknowns.* Mullins, a professor at London Business School, focuses his article on entrepreneurs since he contends that the Unk Unks are the mostly likely obstacle to a startup long term success.

But it is also a concept I can use in my line of work. How does as artist go about making a list of what you can’t see and don’t yet understand? Market research conducted in the imaginal zone?

I’d rather think of the Unk Unks as a playful invitation to dance, to float freely in the nonlinear realms, to prognosticate with abandon, to envision at will, to give way to reverie, lollygagging and daydreaming.

Besides, I can’t employ a word that playful to describe portentious doom or demise. It’s the squeeze sound of a child’s stuffed animal, not a sad fate or a villain lurking just around the next corner.

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* This cheery and essentially upbeat term should not be confounded with the now infamous passage from that former Dark Lord Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, spoken with a straight face at a press conference during the early days of the Iraq nightmare: “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”