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How to Tie Your Shoes: Challenging Cultural Knowledge

How to Tie Your Shoes: Challenging Cultural Knowledge

(Photo: jazzaray)

We rarely think why we what we do. It is a fast world where we are living in, no time left to think, just act. Everyday we take thousands of actions: open the door, put your shoes on, grab this, move that, … We do them because we saw our parents doing them like this, or just, because this is the way they are done. What if there was a different way?

Let’s start with the following video. You have been tying your shoes all your life in the wrong way (in case that your goal was that the laces would stay tied the whole day)

If you have been tying them wrongly, well, we are in the same boat. I learnt how to do it from my parents and, how could my parents be wrong? Well, most likely my parents and yours learnt it from their parents and them from their parents and so on till the time shoelaces were introduced. In fact you do not learn from your parents, you are using the knowledge base that our society has been accumulating during the centuries, it is the cultural knowledge.

Cultural Knowledge Works Like Evolution

But hey, I don’t mean there is something wrong with cultural knowledge, it helped us to survive and evolve as species. So did evolution. We accumulate knowledge, behaviors, reasonings, that contribute to our survival. Concerning evolution, we accumulate mutations that allowed us to adapt to the changing requirements of our environment. Here is the take:

Cultural knowledge and evolution try different options and keep what works. They aim at effective solutions, not perfect.

If we had to redo some of the things evolution we would do them different. Check for instance walking straight on two legs, while it has provided some advantages for our survival, it has given us a painful and inefficient delivery of our babies. What if a german engineer had to design a method to bring the babies to this world? For sure he would have done it differently.

“What if ” your life every now and then

“What if …?” is the key question if you want to create some disruption according to Luke Williams, author of one of my favorite books “Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business“. In If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,  he proposes that

…the seemingly unbroken aspects of a situation that provide the richest opportunities for innovation. They tend to be the things we ignore, precisely because they don’t change.

It sounds like the shoelaces of Terry Moore, doesn’t it? Imagine the amount of given-for-granted cultural knowledge around us that could be challenged using “What if…?”.  Plenty of them so as to turn into a nihilist weirdo if you try to do it all the time, so remember, measure. Plus, you don’t want to irritate your parents by doubting every single of their words, or do you?

Happy “What if…?”-ing

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