The upside of ignorance (How Innovation can thrive on the lack of knowledge)

In her “The Power of not knowing“, part of the the Stanford Technology Ventures (STVP) Entrepreneurship Corner program, Liz Wiseman, author and leadership educator, shares how insisting on “rookie mindset“, that is creating a habit that forces you to look at new goals as if you know nothing about achieving them,  in order to get new insights and accelerate your speed of delivery to an unexpected velocity.

Liz’s research shows that people who have experience in a subject matter, can have very small advantage over newbies who are determined and committed to succeed in a task. The rookies learn at very early stage they won’t make it without help. They know almost nothing on that topic, so they quickly and openly seek for advise, insight and information from the best people they can find.

Having gathered the information, rookies can see new opportunities, where experienced people won’t, because the paths to reach the target are already set. An experienced professional’s mind will short-cut to the quickest effortless route for a given goal. But the mind of the newbie will be able to see new possibilities. Those insights, screened and reviewed by the experienced guide, can lead the rookies to their goals much faster.

The research Liz has gone through shows what many “continuous successful leaders” know – they have to be humble and “play with the kids”, to be able and see something new.

That’s also an important message for human resource professionals, regarding new venues for considering candidates.

I believe you have to be an optimistic and a bit of a risk-taker, but one who also looks for ways to mitigate the possible downfalls. People who are too rational and cautious, will focus on the many ways they could fail, and choose to avoid failure by walking away from the achieving the goal. If you are an optimistic newbie, you are more likely to jump into the cold deep waters, because you would probably not realize how much effort you would have to put in, to succeed. Then it is about your enthusiasm, humbleness, determination, desire to learn and sense of curiosity to “rescue” you into innovation and success.

What’s your experience? How did you make it with a new territory, where you were the rookie?

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