The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Dangers Of Selective Understanding …
March 26, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

A few weeks ago I wrote how ignorance is more than bliss, it’s the shortest route to doing something amazing.

I fully stand by that view, however it is also important to remember that while ignorance can take you to places you may never otherwise have seen, I also highlighted how it is intelligence and rigour that helps you decide – and define – whether you should commit yourself to that opportunity or if you need to throw it away and start again.

In other words, you can’t have one without the other.

To a certain extent, they’re co-dependents and without understanding that, you will never realise what you – or an idea – could actually end up being.

I say this because I hear far too many people quoting stuff that they obviously don’t really understand.

A while back I made a comment about their being no rules to planning.

While I stand by that view … I’ve had that comment played back to me a bunch of times by people who seem to ignore – or forgot – that I also said having no rules wasn’t an excuse for slack standards, self-indulgence or lack of rigour.

Same with a presentation I made on the importance of generalists.

Unlike what some people seemed to think, I was not devaluing the role and importance of specialists [would you like to be operated on by a ‘generalist surgeon’???] nor was I celebrating people who simply have a lot of interests.

Liking a bunch of stuff doesn’t make you a generalist, it makes you a human.

When I talk about generalists, I’m talking about people who have had life/work experiences that transcend ‘casual interaction’ … people who have been involved in a whole range of situations, disciplines and industries … people who have gained a level of knowledge and experience that gives them the right to contribute, evaluate, cross-reference and judge with a level of informed substance and objectivity.

Without that, then all we’re doing is allowing subjectivity to determine outcome – and while there is a time and a place to involve ‘intelligent naivety’ into the process – it should never be allowed to have ultimate decision making power.

[For proof, see some of the rubbish companies invest millions in, just because of the comments from a focus group]

Of course I understand why people do this.

As Paulo Coelho said, ‘People only hear what they want to hear’, so anything – that on face value – suggests someone has a unique quality that has high commercial value, is going to be quickly and blindly embraced … but that does not mean it’s right or validates that attitude or behaviour.

This is why I wrote a post saying planners need to stop behaving like politicians because if you only hear what you want to hear and you have no desire to challenge, learn and grow from your inevitable mistakes, then you’re going to have to learn the hard-to-swallow truth …

24 Comments so far
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I don’t know who upset you, but they need to be thanked because this is another good post with more important advice.

I particularly like what you think makes a true generalist and how being interested in things is simply being human.

If you’re not careful Rob, this blog may start to be considered professional.

Comment by Pete

If you’re not careful you’re going to make me sick.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I know one time I was stupid and made a fucking stupid decision. I’ll give you a clue. It involves working for Rob.

Comment by Billy Whizz

And it was definitely for Rob, not with Rob. But I never did anything he said or wanted so I still have my integrity.

Comment by Billy Whizz

You’re right Billy, when I think of you the first thing that comes to mind is you’re the Mandela of the adland.

Comment by DH

one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s….

Comment by John

you didnt fucking work fullfuckingstop.

Comment by andy@cynic

As Andy said …

Comment by Rob

If anyone reads this post and thinks Rob is a professional practitioner of progressive brand management and communication, drop me a line and I will put you right.

Not so long ago, he wasn’t a generalist or a specialist, just a stupidist.

Comment by DH

If anyone thinks I’m a “professional practitioner of progressive brand management and communication”, then their special carers need to up their medication.

Comment by Rob

where youre concerned the biggest danger isnt selective listening, its listening to anything you fucking say.

Comment by andy@cynic

I really liked this post – until you mentioned Coehlo.

Comment by John

Well if his theory was correct, you wouldn’t have heard a word he said so in some respects, you’ve just proved him wrong which should make you happy.

Comment by Rob

Happy? Don’t talk to me about happy.

Comment by John

You and Rob belong together. If Pete releases his grip off him.

Comment by DH

Removes his tongue from his ass.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Nice post Robert. I hope you keep this sort of thing up. They’re very good and very valuable for people, regardless of the occupation or level.

Comment by George

I have an epic rant on Thursday. After that, it all goes back into its rubbish pit. But I’m guessing you knew that.

Comment by Rob

Excellent often thought rules were an excuse for not having to work too hard and just conform
But you need to understand basic principles before you piss all over them
Digital social gurus are guilty of pronouncing the death of mass advertising and rubbish like growth hacking without taking the time to understand the basics of how brands grow or what people actually do
Anyway I don’t care I’m off to St. Andrews for three days of free bar bungee jumping clay pigeon shooting and politics
Every now and then the job gives back (not the politics bit obvs )

Comment by Northern

With all the holidays and freebies, you’re turning into a low rent version of Campbell.

Comment by DH

Very low rent

Comment by northern

the world has gone fucking mad. planning fucks should be glad they have a job and get overpaid for pointing out the fucking obvious in a 1000 page powerpoint deck. the last people who should get freebies are those fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

The logic lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Comment by DH

“But you need to understand basic principles before you piss all over them.”
I’m stealing this.

Comment by Miguel

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