Radical Outsiders

Knowledge and intelligence will not protect you against your irrational beliefs. Experts are hardwired to jump to conclusions from little evidence based on their past successes. Their over-confident illusion of knowing, often bypassing self-scrutiny and evidence that might prove their theories wrong, can – and does – deliver catastrophic results.

The solution is not about having the answers but asking the questions. The way experts ensure they are not overly attached to their cherished models is by continuously questioning their assumptions and asking themselves ‘was I open to contrary evidence? Did I consider alternative assumptions and what’s coming – super-wicked problems?’

It turns out that experts who question themselves have an important advantage: they see themselves as continuously learning and have less ego invested in their proposed models. They are always open to diverse perspectives, realising that increased evidence may bring more compelling hypotheses that factor in more of the complexity of our ever- changing markets.

When Faced with Super-Wicked Problems, Who Can We Call on for Advice? Call on Radical Outsiders. Radical outsiders offer unique perspectives and advantages, fuelling disruption that challenges outdated assumptions. They come from outside the very industries and markets that they disrupt. They have not been brain-washed by current industry norms, but challenge conventional assumptions and models.

The failings of many conventional experts have been in misreading the competitive landscape, underplaying the agility needed in response to the rise of businesses such as Netflix, SpaceX and Uber. They viewed these misfit organisations as mere underdogs. They underestimated the market’s readiness to embrace these radical outsiders that have been reshaping the world in which we live.

Summing-up: Most large organisations today are faced with super-wicked problems. The challenge is that individuals are hardwired to default to ‘business- as-usual’ behaviours and choices. If our irrational beliefs and attachment to our theories dull our ability to spot radical changes, the antidote is cognitive flexibility, which is the ability to shift thoughts and behaviours to unexpected changes in the environment. Cognitive flexibility is the trademark of radical outsiders who are open to unexpected surprises and seemingly impossible results. The world needs their breakthroughs more than ever, because our past successes seem to be holding us back from unlocking our future growth.


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