“Dad, how come school buses have to say “School Bus” on the side? Everyone knows they’re school buses just by looking at them.”
That’s what my son said to me this morning over breakfast. After laughing at the rightness of his observation, I started to think about the beauty of the fresh perspective.
When you’re eight years old, things that don’t make sense occur to you all the time and you know no better than to ask the question. When you get to be a grown-up, all those incongruities become white noise. We learn what to focus on and what to ignore. We become experts at being in this world.
Of course, that’s exactly what happens in our jobs, too. We become experts in our brand, in our business, in our industry, and we learn to not waste any time on the things that don’t make sense, and instead become fluent in the things that do.
Yes, they’ve made plenty of movies about how beautiful it is to keep our childish perspective. “Big” was a popular one. So was “Amelie”. We see the movies, they ring true to us, but we never learn the lesson.
We are still asked to prove our experience in any one given area. Before we land an assignment to work on a box of cereal, we have to demonstrate that we know the box-of-cereal business backwards.
Wouldn’t business benefit from a steady supply of intelligent, inquisitive people flowing through their offices, asking the naïve, and often revealing, questions? Imagine if consultants were hired for their areas of INexperience? It would be a network of neophytes, providing immense value through horizontal wisdom and vertical ignorance.
To start the ball rolling, here are some categories I don’t know the first thing about: pharmaceuticals, toys, auto parts, government organizations, and motion pictures.