Leaky pipeline

One of my favourite quotes goes something like this:

“Gedacht heißt nicht immer gesagt, gesagt heißt nicht immer richtig gehört, gehört heißt nicht immer richtig verstanden, verstanden heißt nicht immer einverstanden, einverstanden heißt nicht immer angewendet, angewendet heißt noch lange nicht beibehalten.”

Which in English is roughly:

“What’s thought isn’t always said; what’s said isn’t always heard; what’s heard isn’t always understood; what’s understood isn’t always agreed; what’s agreed isn’t always carried out; what’s carried out is still far from being upheld over the long term.”

I don’t remember where I first came across it, and I’d always seen it attributed to Konrad Lorenz, but when I wanted to use it in a presentation recently I thought I’d better check that attribution. Conveniently, I found a German quote research site that had done a thorough investigation and found that it probably is not attributable to Lorenz. Most likely it goes back to the 1980s, possibly to author Heinz Goldmann.

Regardless of where the quote comes from, I still enjoy the wisdom it encapsulates. I use it to hammer on two points:

  • Sometimes you have to ask the same question over and over again.
  • Writing a piece of documentation doesn’t equate to knowledge transfer