The Power of the Clueless

kinnon —  February 20, 2006 — 2 Comments

The ever enlightening and always brilliant Kathy Sierra on the Clueless Manifesto:

The clueless accomplish amazing things–not necessarily because we’re bold, brilliant innovators, but perhaps because we just don’t know any better. We see the simplicity of the forest while Those Who Know are overanalyzing the complex subtleties of the trees (and miss the point). Sometimes NOT knowing about a “problem” weakens (or eliminates) it.

Perception is a powerful tool. Believing there’s a limitation can sometimes create that limitation. And for the clueless who don’t know about the limitation, well, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Belief matters. Not everywhere, not in everything, but more than we give credence to. (emphasis added)

I once worked in an environment where the leadership wanted me to “learn their culture” before I could provide any constructive input. Unfortunately “their culture” was actually the problem. It was like being absorbed into the Borg. While “culturally clueless”, I could see the simplicity of the issues – once assimilated, I would have just became part of the problem.

UPDATE: Apparently Scoble is Clueless in Seattle.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to The Power of the Clueless

  1. Hey Bill, thanks for the nice comments!

    I’ve worked in that kind of environment as well, but one time I worked for a guy who was trying very hard to *exploit* the not-knowing of his newest hires. He did just the opposite — he said, “You’ve worked in a lot of different environments, so some of your best input is going to be NOW, when you’re too new to have been pulled into our culture and processes.” It was awesome. (Sports Club/LA in Los Angeles)

  2. Interesting comment from Kathy. Culture is a powerful tool for leaders. It glues together so many values and practices that make a particular place a place that is virtually branded in the minds of people. In order to deal with toxic cultures, you have to understand both their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been exploring the work of Col. John Boyd, USAF (deceased) who was an innovator not only in air-to-air fighter warfare, but also in military strategic planning. I write a little about this at link to . In essence, and I think this applies to people functioning in any kind of competitive setting that you are constantly reoriented your perception of what is happening, and making decisions and taking actions that force your competitors to react. As my wife commented when I described this to her, “That sounds evil.” Well, it certainly can be. Or, it can be a way to counteract the destructive patterns of behavior functioning in an organization. For example, if the culture if operating in denial of its principles and espoused values, then you act in such a way that forces that inner conflict out into the open. It can be dangerous, but then it can also be the kind of change that elevates the organization to be the people their p.r. copy say they are. When we see that every organization, including churches, are tugs of war between good and evil, between mediocrity and greatness, between organizational inertia and purposeful momentum forward, then we’ll see the competitive nature that exists in every environment. Boyd’s theory of Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action is a very helpful practice for leaders who want to move their organizations forward.


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