Byron's Babbles

Be An Explorer, Not An Expert

I am so glad I read the book, Alien Thinking: The Unconventional Path To Breakthrough Ideas. This book helped me further hone the alien that has always been in me for wild and creative thinking and innovation. In the book, authors Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade presented an incredible framework using ALIEN as an acronym. I highlighted the framework in What Will You Regret When You Are 80 Years Old? Another comment the authors made in the book that caused me to do further thinking was that we need to “Approach things not as an expert, but as an explorer.” I’ve always been a critic of so called experts and this was a warning of the problem of acting like an expert.

The problem of overconfidence and closed-mindedness in areas we believe we have expertise is all the more troubling because we so generally tend to credit ourselves and many times others with having more expertise than we really do. In Alien Thinking we were taught that discoverers know what they are looking for and then go out and find it, but explorers take chances by creating new things, and looking for what they don’t even know is there. The expert status can serve as blinders keeping us from exploring for the next way of doing what we are doing well now better or differently.

Those that know me well know that I love intersectional learning and learning from outside my own industry. Bouquet et al. argued there is great value in this as well. They posited that “Leaders thus need to think like explorers, become more adventurous and steal the essence of ideas from outside their industries…” Taking an expert frame of reference keeps us from looking for what is next. We need to be looking at industries outside our own and “stealing” ideas. I believe this is an issue particularly in education. There is not enough exploration happening in other industries to learn how to best educate. We can rely on our “outsider status” and being “adjacent outsiders” to learn and discover from others.

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