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.