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Conventional Wisdom is Wrong

Jo Owen missed out one dangerous phrase from his list -- conventional wisdom. Business phrases like best practice, standard procedure, and accepted wisdom reflect a static position based in the past. Professor Jeff Pfeffer (here in an interview with Guy Kawasaki) says that "when companies follow prevailing conventional wisdom, they often discover, if they are attentive, that much of the conventional wisdom is wrong or misleading".

Learning involves building on the experience of the past, not cementing it permanently in place. The ability and opportunity to look at things from a fresh perspective is invaluable. But it's very, very difficult.

The history of breakthrough product developments illustrates this well. The inventor of the electric typewriter was turned down by every major typewriter manufacturer. The company that eventually produced it (and became IBM) only did so because it couldn't make a manual machine that could compete successfully.

The Swiss watch industry refused to consider digital technology as acceptable when it was exhibited at the annual world watch exhibition in Switzerland because it wasn't how watches were supposed to be made. Conventional wisdom is not the same is wisdom.

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