Accidental Enlightenment: The power of the unexpected
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Accidental Enlightenment: The power of the unexpected

It’s only human to prefer predictability to surprises - we can plan and prepare for the former, while we can only ever react to the latter. But if we’re being honest, some of the most memorable moments we have at work are those which surprise us - when a new piece of information or insight emerges from nowhere to help. 

What none of us love are nasty surprises. Most of the time these shocks are caused by a lack of knowledge - either because a situation arose from nowhere, or because the relevant information was hidden away in an obscure database or tool which no one had thought to check. 

That’s particularly true of investigations. While every investigator would love to know what they’re looking for, the reality isn’t that simple - the world is messy, complex and frustratingly hard to categorise. Even when you know the right information is out there - it’s a time-consuming complex process to bring together different data sets so you can cross check one against the other and ensure there’s no lingering doubts.  

This complexity leaves investigators open to nasty surprises - all because they had a blind spot in their understanding of a situation. 

Different types of knowledge 

In an infamous speech former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld outlined the different kind of knowledge an individual can have: 

“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. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones."

It may sound like an odd turn of phrase, but in reality this distinction between known unknowns and unknown unknowns is hugely useful. It allows for a more nuanced view of the world and leaves us open to new sources of information. 

It’s particularly relevant to the work of investigators too - known unknowns are the pieces of knowledge you know are out there somewhere but haven’t found yet, while unknown unknowns could be just the surprise you need to crack a case - provided you create the opportunity to find them. 

Making the unknown work for you 

Helping you find the right information quickly and easily is why our Investigate solution exists. By bringing together a wealth of different data sets, we make it easy for you to put together a complete history of an individual or organisation’s contacts and connections. By bringing all this data in one place, it’s easy for an investigator to identify the promising leads from red herrings and make the right decision about what to do next. 

But the benefits of Investigate don’t stop there - as you explore your leads and build a map of your investigation, you’ll sometimes find a crucial piece of information in a place you might never have initially considered looking - one of Rumsfeld’s ‘unknown unknowns’.   

We refer to this process of discovery as ‘accidental enlightenment’ where a piece of data or a connection you’d never have thought to look for provides all the evidence you need to make the right decision. It’s an incredible moment - all the pieces just slide into place - removing doubt and providing absolute certainty about what needs to happen next. 

It’s this ability to turn doubt into certainty that makes Investigate the tool of choice for businesses and public sector organisations alike. Not only does the platform provide a beautifully simple, time efficient way to explore all the data you knew you needed to sift through, it also provides the best kind of surprise - by providing insights which feel like they came from thin air. 

Ready to learn more? Find out how our Investigate solution can locate and investigate target identities along with their relevant connections and detect fraud early. 

  • Identity
  • Investigation