Podcast #335 – Barry O’Reilly on the Need to “Unlearn”


It's two Barrys in a row on the podcast, as my guest for Episode #335 is Barry O'Reilly and we're talking, in depth, about his latest book, Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results.

Barry is a business advisor, entrepreneur, and author who has pioneered the intersection of business model innovation, product development, organizational design, and culture transformation. See his full bio.

Last week, I shared a shorter discussion with Barry that served as a preview of the webinar that he's presenting on Wednesday. Click here to learn more and register.

In the podcast, Barry and I chat about topics including 1) experimental approaches to entrepreneurship, 2) how leaders need to make it safe for people to try new things, and 3) why you have to unlearn before you can learn something new – that's the pathway that allows you to then achieve breakthrough results. These are good ideas in business and they also talk about the interesting case of tennis legend Serena Williams and how she reinvented her game to extend her greatness.

I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did and I hope you'll pick up the book.

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/335.

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android appsor via Apple Podcasts.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher or Spotify.

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Questions, Topics, and Links:

  • How did Unlearn come to be?
    • What is the unlearning cycle?
    • How does somebody realize or discover that past knowledge is outdated or an obstacle?
    • Requires “courage, self-awareness, and humility”
      • Can any of that be coached or developed?
    • “We need to unlearn the idea of transformation programs.”
    • “It's not you… the world changed.”
  • How can we help shift from “knowing” answers to testing solutions in a truly experimental way?
  • You talk about creating an environment where it's safe to experiment… what are some key things that a leader can do?
  • “The best leaders don't have all the answers; they ask better questions.”
    • How can we learn to ask better questions?

Videos of Barry O'Reilly:

Thanks for listening!


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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