Conventional Wisdom


Photo by Kevin Hutchinson

Today I finished something that was well overdue for me. I read “First, break all the rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. As I already mentioned in this blog a few times, I am a keen reader of Buckingham‘s books and I talk a lot about the strengths thinking in my e-book. So, I can’t say that I really discovered new things when I read the book. But as always, many ideas wear fine-tuned. Off course this is a book that any person that is a manager of people must read.

I think the interesting thing for me in this book was the systematic way that the book attacks the conventional wisdom. This is something that most of the books I read in the last few weeks did. “Outliers” and “Billion Dollar Lessons” are just two names that pop to my mind. All of these books show us how the commonplace thinking regarding success, excellence and human behaviour is fundamentally wrong.

“First, break all the rules” was written I 1999. Almost ten years ago. It is an international best seller. And still, the misplaced conventional wisdoms that are described in the book are commonplace. I am sure that all of you felt them at some point.

And the question that comes to my mind is: “how can that be changed?”. How can me make these conventional wisdoms become obsolete. How can we make the idea that everybody can excel in any job if they only get the right opportunity and training disappear? or the idea that if you work hard enough you can success no matter what disappear? These two ideas represent a romantic but false stories should be changed. But they don’t.  Because these stories are so fundamental and are so intertwined into our thinking they affect decisions and polices. And when your basic assumptions are wrong, the chances that you will make the right decisions seriously drop. And we still can’t change them.

There is a dire need to create education systems which will eradicate all these wrong notions and that will create, over time, new conventional wisdoms, ones that work. I am not sure our current education systems are up to the challenge. In three weeks I will be starting an MBA course at AGSM. I am quite sure that these conventional wisdoms will be the curriculum. But I am more afraid there will be more misplaced conventional wisdoms that I will be taught and I will never know they are wrong.


17 Responses to “Conventional Wisdom”

  1. The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] previous books I wrote about here, this book tries to break the conventional wisdom that great arguments persuade.  To put it in general terms the book main thesis is that most of […]

  2. The leader-manager dilemma « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] an average result. And average, in our society, is just not good enough. So I think this is another conventional wisdom that needs to be […]

  3. Breaking the golden rule - how we should incorporate differences into the way we manage people « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] world of management, this well intentioned rule leads you to bad managerial decisions (like much conventional wisdom. Because, if we do agree that we are all different it also means that we hate different things. […]

  4. Are sales people only motivated by commissions? « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] was thinking about it a lot. I don’t know why. I think this is another example of a conventional wisdom that people have a very hard time to abandon. Conventional wisdom that only money rewards motivates […]

  5. Should we set goals as leaders or as managers? « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] problem is – and being in a MBA program myself right now, I can see it personally -the conventional wisdom is that management and leadership is the same thing. That all managers should also simultaneously […]

  6. “Follow Your Passion” - good or bad advice? « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] importance in reaching success and happiness. I write a lot in this blogs about how people follow the conventional wisdom without thinking about it, and Rowe’s talk frightened me.  Was I following the conventional […]

  7. Outcome management « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] The problem is people will more often than not tell you that they want you to tell them what to do. The conventional wisdom that a manager needs to say to its employees how to do their work is already intertwined into […]

  8. Shorts: Tom Peters on management and leadership « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] that only follow rules. We know that is far from true. Great managers sometimes defy the rules. They defy conventional wisdoms all the time. Managers and leaders are different, but both of them need to do the right things and do them […]

  9. Resisting the temptation to give answers « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] The conventional wisdom that a manager needs to say to its employees how to do their work is already intertwined into people’s expectations. Just the same way people think that there is one best way to write a speech, give a presentation, use notes or get the audience attention, while there isn’t, people expect their manager to tell them how to do their work. […]

  10. Saying goodbye to the mechanisms of control « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] were developed in the world of production and our let go of our fear of the unknown. To change our conventional wisdoms about what management really entails. To celebrate the diversity of human […]

  11. Shorts: Lean is Good (@leanisgood) on The Jackass fallacy « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] in our modern world of innovation, autonomy, mastery and purpose. It is another example of a conventional wisdom that went bad and now is preventing managers from their real work – helping people […]

  12. Thoughts about teamwork and competition « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] conventional wisdom that is described in the Lean is Good blog post is that teamwork and teams are groups of […]

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