Being Unreasonable

"I agree with you on that”

This is human nature. We socialize with people, visit websites and read newspapers that confirm our beliefs. It’s what psychologists refer to as confirmation bias.

Should we?

A few months ago, I attended a keynote speech by Richard Saul Wurman, the 78-year-old prolific author, architect and founder of the TED conference. Prior to Richard, the previous speakers had all used standard PowerPoint style presentations with animations and elaborate graphics: the traditional style of speaking to a large crowd. Not Richard.

As he was introduced on stage, he quickly walked down and into the audience. He started wandering back and forth, interacting with the crowd and sometimes even giving snarky comments to people who were not paying attention. Even though he has a small frame, he has a towering personality, a presence of a person that you need to listen to with your fullest attention. The crowd was quickly in his grip.

Richard told a few stories, and the story that stuck to me the most was about doing the opposite. How turning something on its head can change the game. “Do you know how a chimpanzee eats a banana?” he asked. “From the opposite end” he answered and continued to give examples. He urged the audience to challenge the status quo and to think different: like Apple did with the iPhone, like Tesla with its Model S, like Nest with its thermostat.

“Of course, that’s old news”, you might say.

Is it?

It is always current in my opinion. We should have this mantra top of mind in everything we do. I, for one, get stuck in the norm on a daily basis. To think the opposite and to apply that frame of thinking requires strength.

Why do some companies and individuals apply this way of thinking and some do not?

My humble thesis: Fear, fear of being criticized, and fear of being the only one with that opinion.

As humans we are afraid of change. We want things to be just how they always have been.

We should challenge that.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw

Maybe we should try being a bit more unreasonable?