Unlearn to Win

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“As human beings, we tend to see what we already believe more than what is actually in front of us.”.

Don’t take any aspect of your business for granted. Above all, don’t assume that what has made you successful up to this point will continue to do so in the future.

Don’t take any aspect of your business for granted. Above all, don’t assume that what has made you successful up to this point will continue to do so in the future.

In a world where technologies and markets can – and do – change overnight, some suggest that the only sustainable competitive advantage may be the ability to learn faster than your competitors..

I disagree..

Clearly, today’s organizations must embrace ongoing learning in order to compete. However, I believe that achieving a sustainable competitive advantage has more to do with the ability to unlearn faster than your competitors..

Too often, the real stumbling blocks to winning in business are all the things we absolutely, positively know to be true about our customers, our markets, our industry, and the world in general; in other words, everything we think we know about how we should run our businesses. Upon further examination, these “facts” often turn out to be old beliefs that no longer jibe with current market realities..

Today’s markets change faster than ever, and what was true a year or two ago may no longer be valid. In fact, if you’re operating off ideas and assumptions that are even three to six months old, there’s a very good chance your market has already left you behind. Keeping up with changing customer wants and needs requires constantly seeking out new ways of adding value. To do this, you must first get rid of old ideas that no longer align with customer expectations..

How do you unlearn in order to learn?.

Start by challenging all your attitudes, beliefs and assumptions about how you think your business works. Make a list of everything you know to be absolutely true about your customers, competitors and markets. Then ask questions like: Is this still true? How do we know? Do we have real data to support this conclusion or are we just guessing? If it is no longer true, what has changed and how do we need to respond to that change?”.

Have a non-expert research every one of your fundamental truths. For example, have your CFO look at customer data. Have your sales manager look at purchasing practices. Or have your marketing VP look at operations. You’ll be amazed at what a fresh set of eyes can see!.

As human beings, we tend to see what we already believe more than what is actually in front of us. We also constantly seek to prove what we think is right. As a result, we miss critical data and limit our success by getting locked into ideas and assumptions that are no longer supported by what is happening in the world. To unlearn, we must constantly challenge what we know to be true, and then open our thinking to new and different possibilities..

Stop making decisions based on outdated information. Constantly question all your most sacred assumptions and beliefs. Don’t take any aspect of your business for granted.  Above all, don’t assume that what has made you successful up to this point will continue to do so in the future..

Unlearn to learn, and you may find yourself with a distinct competitive advantage that puts your organization in a position to win.

 

Additional Reading

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Retain Top Talent Like an 1850’s Businessman

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