Why don’t more people disrupt themselves?

I spotted this tweet by fellow Renegade @stevekoss in response to this tweet by @wadhwa:

One word: Inertia. But I also think it’s because people don’t know what reinvention even means. And since reinvention doesn’t happen in a heart beat, people have a hard time identifying anything that changed for the better.

Before I saw these tweets, I was reading an article about how Shane Battier, a Miami Heat player, is adjusting to the rapid pace of the current season. For those of you who don’t know, the NBA season has been compressed because of the lockout. That means less games but also more games being played in a week. This is a dramatic change to how teams are used to operating. Less practices means learning things on the fly. It also means that players who started the season out of shape are playing catch up.

Shane Battier is Cerebral. He’s used to planning ahead because he knows most things in his life, for the most part, are going being a certain way. That means disruptions, like the one he’s living in right now, make him uncertain:

“I’m a guy who my entire life going back to eight years old I had a plan,” Battier said. “I always knew this is the way I am going to do things. For the most part it has worked out that way. So when I have uncertainty, uncertainty does stress me out. That’s what I feel right now.”

And continues:

“It has been a strange year for me personally,” Battier said. “First the lockout and then free agency and I’m still trying to find my stride basketball-wise. You can’t outthink a slump. You have to put your work in, you have to outwork it.”

This is not a blog post about basketball, but change is change. Anywhere and everywhere. Whether it’s technological or structural, change is change. And the vast majority of people are scared of change. They’re afraid to kick their current approach to reaching their goals to the curb and adopt a new approach.

This also brings up another point: Instead of educating people to become experts, we should educate people on the art of reinvention. The ability to unlearn is the best skill one can have:

Little attention has been paid to ignorance as a precious resource. Unlike knowledge, which is infinitely reusable, ignorance is a one-shot deal: Once it has been displaced by knowledge, it can be hard to get back. And after it’s gone, we are more apt to follow well-worn paths to find answers than to exert our sense of what we don’t know in order to probe new options. Knowledge can stand in the way of innovation. Solved problems tend to stay solved-sometimes disastrously so. – Quote taken from HBR article Wanted: Chief Ignorance Officer

We would do well to study artists who have stood the test of time like Madonna, Linkin Park, Metallica, Rolling Stones, U2 to name a few. Easier said than done, but what they all have in common is creative resiliency.

So, it can be done.

What’s your take?

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  • Thanks Jorge for the interesting point of view of: Little attention has been paid to ignorance as a precious resource. Last week a friend of mine commented me on the same thing, he told me that to innovate, companies don´t need more ´experts´ on the matter, they need generalists who know something about everything, who start asking question when things don´t seem to make sense. They make people think outside the box.

    •  Hi Mark,

      I think we do need some level of expertise but it has to be balanced with Generalists. What that combination looks like, I really don’t know.



      • ´What´s the best mix for teams working on innovation´…….there you have a nice subject for your next blog then.
        You can broaden the subject a bit by adding to the specialist and generalists, maybe engineers and artists for example. Left brainers vs. right brainers……that could generate some very interesting discussions! If you would like to work on the post together, just let me know and we drag the discussion to twitter and linkedin too……..

        • Yeah let’s do that. My email: jorgea.barba at gmail.com



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  • I would add the willingness to fail as well. Ignorance and failure. A great team…

    Reinvention is hard, particularly when the current situation kinda works. A desire to do it better is a good starting point. Then some creative thinking to disrupt your norms. And some cahones to make it happen.

    Is it ignorance we require, or risk taking, or both? Innovation is said to be creating something new and valueable, and then making it happen. I think ignorance does play an important part in the initial ideation, and it could probably help in the risk taking (if you’re feeling lucky), but surely you need some level of expertise to actually craft something that works. And risk taking when you know the risks is far more exciting than risk taking when you don’t.

    • Hi Brendan,

      Awareness also helps. More specifically, awareness that change is imminent. Awareness of our human biases and how they’ll take over. How they’ll protect us from uncertainty.

      Being aware helps keep our ego in check.

      Expertise is necessary, no doubt. You still need square pegs around (specialists), they’ll put structure to the chaos (generalists).



  • Kevin McFarthing

    Hi Jorge – those people who are willing to “ride the wave” rather than try to suppress it are much better able to live with change.  There’s also an ability to listen – REALLY listen, not just hear – which is a crucial characteristic.

    I love the idea of a Chief Ignorance Officer.  I’ve felt like that at many points in my career….

    I’ve just written a blog on the role of the naive challenger for Braden’s site, you’ll find similar sentiments there.  


    •  Hi Kevin,

      I agree. Listening is key. It doesn’t just apply to human relationships. But listen ‘for change’. How funny is that?

      Really? I didn’t catch the article. Link me 🙂



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