8 mental strategies that can accelerate change

Posted by Bob Corlett on July 1, 2015

Writer and futurist Alvin Toffler once said, "The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."

In this age of rapid change, we must learn how to view things from new perspectives, and find ways to regularly challenge our outdated assumptions.

And to do that, we must often "unlearn" what we think we know.

That makes unlearning a business imperative. So in recruiting, finding candidates who can "unlearn" effectively is becoming more and more crucial.

In a brilliant paper on unlearning, professor William Starbuck noted that senior managers, technical experts and organizations are all very resistant to evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

He found that the perceptual errors and self-deceptions of top managers are especially potent, since they can block actions proposed by their subordinates. Also, these managers tend to overlook bad news and perceived events incorrectly.

Starbuck wrote, "Although their high statuses often persuade them that they have more expertise than other people, their expertise tends to be out-of-date. They have strong vested interests, and they know they will catch the blame if current policies and actions prove wrong."

Counteracting the accumulated weight of senior managers, experts and organizational inertia is no easy task. But if you're looking for organizational change, or looking to hire people who can "unlearn" effectively, there's one simple clue to consider: doubt.

Read more in the Business Journal

Topics: Hiring Managers