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Unlearning is an actual thing. It’s a hard thing to do. But it can be very useful. This short story explores unlearning because of the simple idea that you, me or anyone can actually be ‘too good’ at something. So good that we end up stuck in our ways. Unable or unwilling to open up to learning new things in the way we once were. Unable to actually see that there could be new and better ways of doing things. And that’s a big problem.
As we get older, we become increasingly experienced. That’s a given. And sometimes (should we really apply ourselves) we can become increasingly expert, too.
But is it really possible to be too good at something? Too good because, maybe as a by-product of us knowing so much, we get bored. So we don’t get into the detail as much, and quality actually drops. Or maybe we overthink or over analyse, because of all that accrued cleverness. And as a consequence we don’t move with the speed, precision and care we once did.
Knowledge really can bog us down.
Sometimes in business, what got you ‘here’ won’t get you ‘there’. And that can be very confusing for experienced people. How come those things you did and that worked really well 20 years ago don’t have the same effect now? And how come someone 20 years your junior right now can get the same results much quicker than you can? Maybe it’s because you know too much. And it’s getting in the way.
(And you know what, when you were younger and less experienced, maybe you were more effective at certain things back then too. Because you just got on with it. In the only way you knew how).
We probably all know people in business that are guilty of over complicating things. And all they are probably doing is flicking through their back-catalogue of experience, desperately trying to work out what approach is best for today’s task. When someone newer to the game might just get cracking.
Hmm. Unlearning would be really useful here. But once habits develop, it’s hard to break them.
The Harlands Team.
The Harlands team is a real mix of age and experience.
It’s important though that we (and you) don’t always assume that the most experienced people (when measured by the usual criteria of how long and maybe even how well they’ve been doing something) are always listened to over the newer kids on the block. There is a lot to be said for fresh thinking. New perspectives. Naïve questioning. Because if we don’t go back to that place of not knowing, we can miss some of the most obvious and important basics. Simplicity for example is such a valuable part of what we do at Harlands. So that we minimise waste and give the best value and experience to every client. So sometimes, we have to be careful that all those years of experience don’t work against us.
Many of the newer Harlands team members are just perfect for what we need in today’s expanding and balanced team. They complement our existing more experienced people really well.
And let’s face it, sometimes, just because someone has done something for years, it doesn’t mean they get better and better and better at it.
Take taxi drivers. They’re on the roads longer than any of us. And when it comes to actually driving – there are some pretty awful taxi drivers out there.
We’re joking! (Well, a little bit).
Thanks for reading. Now you can sit back and have a ponder.
What would you benefit from unlearning today?