The Joys of Being (Occasionally) Wrong

Last Updated Oct 19, 2007 2:50 PM EDT

The Joys of Being (Occasionally) WrongMost people hate being wrong. It might be an obvious truth, but sometimes it's these commonsense ideas, these truths that seem so self-evident that we accept them without question, which turn out to be holding us back.

Seth Godin, author of best-selling marketing books "Small is the New Big" and "All Marketers are Liars," posted on his personal blog yesterday about the joys of being (occasionally) wrong:

I like being wrong. Not enough to make a habit of it, but enough to realize that I'm actively testing scenarios. Take a fact of dubious authenticity, riff a scenario around it and see if it feels right. That act of scenario building is a key factor in brainstorming, creativity and in problem solving. If you need the core fact to be guaranteed right and perfect, you're doomed, because facts like that are in short supply.
Of course major screw-ups and wholesale failure don't do anyone anyone any good, but neither does playing it so safe that playfulness and creativity are extinguished. These qualities, as Godin points out succinctly, are at the heart of jobs of the future:
Short version: if your job can be completely written up in a manual, it's either not a great job or it's going to be done by someone cheaper, sometime soon.
There's no shortage of pundits pointing out that innovation is key. (Harvard Business School is hosting a summit on the topic in London next week, for example, claiming "It's almost impossible to find an organization that isn't pledging to be more innovative.") But innovation is also always risky-- by definition it's new and untested. Are you too in love with being right to be innovative?

(Image of napkin doodle by doobybrain, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.