Webinar Preview (and Recording): Unlearn with Barry O’Reilly


KaiNexus and I were happy to host an excellent webiner by Barry O'Reilly, the author of the book Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results.

The webinar is on these themes:

Why Great Leaders Must Unlearn to Succeed in Today's Exponential World

Click here to register to view the recording or see the slides (it's free). Or scroll down:

You can get his book through Amazon and other stores.

Podcast Audio:

I recently recorded a short discussion with Barry to preview the webinar. I've also recorded a longer podcast with Barry for my Lean Blog Interviews series and that will be released soon. Use the player below:

You can also listen to a full podcast discussion I had with Barry in my Lean Blog Interviews series.

Webinar Recording:

Podcast Transcript:

Mark Graban: Hi. This is Mark Graban from KaiNexus. Today, we're joined by Barry O'Reilly, who's going to be giving a preview of a webinar that he will be presenting for us on March 6th at one o'clock, Eastern. It's titled, “Why Great Leaders Must Unlearn to Succeed in Today's Exponential World.”

You can register for that by going to www.kainexus.com/webinars. Barry, thanks for joining us today. How are you?

Barry O'Reilly: I'm great, and a pleasure to be here.

Mark: Can you take a minute to introduce yourself for the listeners? A little bit about your professional background and what you do.

Barry: Yeah. I have quite a varied background. I started off as a software engineer and working primarily in startups doing game development for mobile phones in the late '90s, early 2000s. Over time I got more interested in product development and started doing product management, and developing and building new products, and building new companies.

I did that for a number of years and then started to move into consulting. I led consulting for a company called ThoughtWorks, which was one of the first proponents of agile software development. I worked there for a little over five years, all over the world coaching and helping large organizations, or scaling of businesses start to apply agile thinking in the way that they worked.

I was lucky enough, as part of that, to work with Jez Humble and Joanne Molesky and write a book called “Lean Enterprise,” which was a bit of a response after people had read Eric Ries's “Lean Startup,” and were very interested in experimentation.

They were sort of like, “We're not a startup. When we're a larger organization or a growing organization, how do we adopt these ideas?”

We wrote Lean Enterprise, and that was part of Eric's series. That was a really great opportunity for me then to start working with more leaders who were interested in these ideas. Then on the back of that, what I found while helping these organizations introduce new practices, one of the big inhibitors was not necessarily helping people learn new things.

It's difficult, but the actual biggest inhibitor was helping people unlearn their existing behavior. That got me excited about creating a system to help people continuously innovate and adapt their behavior to changing circumstances. Both learn new things but unlearn the things that were holding them back.

That's what I've written my new book on. Looking forward to sharing with your audience.

Mark: The book, “Unlearn,” and the subtitle says to, “Let go of past success to achieve extraordinary results.” Just the other day. I sent you something about an NBA player, Brook Lopez. He was a seven-footer, he never took three-point shots.

He had a certain style of play that made him millions and millions of dollars, but he had to let go of that past style of play and start learning how to shoot three-pointers and reinvented himself. I don't know. Did that on the surface, at least, sound like a sports world parallel to having to let go of past success to unlearn, to reinvent?

Barry: Well, I really enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing it. It's like, what's very interesting about athletes as well is the game that they're in changes. The style of play changes, but also the physicality of their body changes and can deteriorate over time. They're constantly adapting and tweaking to try and find these outcomes of being a great player, a great team player.

They're trying to score more points, or win more titles, or whatever that outcome or aspiration they have. Then constantly adapting their behaviors to achieve those outcomes.

One of the stories I share in the book is how Serena Williams has done that in her career. The thing that's amazing about Serena that is in the last five years of her career, her win ratio is actually doubling.

She's actually getting more successful in the last five years of her career than she was in the first 12 years of her career winning grand slams. Which is phenomenal for someone who works and operates in tennis where the average age of a tennis player retiring is 27 and Serena's 38.

It's interesting to see how people are systematizing ways to continuously adapt their behaviors to changing circumstances and the things that might have made them successful in the past, figuring out how to know to let go of those.

That was a huge inspiration for me as I was working with a lot of these very senior executives, leaders, and organizations that have to adapt to changing circumstances, both in the roles that they're taking on, the competitive market that they're in, and the products they're trying to build. This idea of recognizing when you need to unlearn is very powerful.

What's been super interesting for me is the other parts of the system, which is helping people relearn these new behaviors to figure out what behavior is going to work for them to ultimately get these breakthroughs that they're looking for in performance, behavior, and thinking. They're the kind of things I'm looking forward to sharing on our webinar in a couple of weeks' time.

Mark: Yeah, because there are a lot of great lessons. We probably won't have many professional athletes tuning in, but the lessons here, of course, are for entrepreneurs, executives, and business leaders in so many different realms. That's why I'm excited about the webinar. Again, it's going to be presented by Barry on March 6th.

It's titled, Why Great Leaders Must Unlearn to Succeed in Today's Exponential World. I do highly recommend Barry's book, Unlearn.

Barry, thanks in advance for doing the webinar. I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us today to give a bit of a preview. I appreciate it.

Barry: Always a pleasure.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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