J.K. Galbraith stated that “we are ruled by ideas and by very little else”. Ideas are always in demand. It is one thing that people are drawn to, and there is never a shortage of ideas. However, the situation is not as simple when we try to make ideas reality.
J.K. Galbraith is as famous for his contribution to economic thought as he is for offering one of the best ever insights into ‘conventional wisdom’. Many decades after he first wrote about conventional wisdom (he lived a long and very productive life), he continued to hold the same views on the topic, which says a lot coming from a great thinker who was happy to change his mind when confronted with facts.
Over the years I have, like most people, sought new ideas and tried different strategies to make them work. Things changed a lot when I started to pay close attention to the principles of Galbraith. Things made more sense after I correlated his thinking with the research and practice of behaviourists (behavioural economics).
We are surrounded by outcomes which started out as ideas. It is apparent that many great ideas never get out of attic, while some not so original nor clever ideas become reality; and at times expensive ones at that.
So, in an attempt to work out a way to translate ideas into practice, I developed the ‘Conventional Wisdom Cycle’ (CWC), which interprets my understanding of Galbraith’s insights. To explain how it all works I designed the following infographic, which I still use regularly with my clients (strategic planning etc.), as well as when I work on a specific project or coach a client wanting to convert an idea into a product/service. It feels great when a client uses the CWC successfully. Naturally, there is more detail that goes with this infographic, however with a bit of focus, together with a strongly recommended reading of J.K. Galbraith’s work, it should all make sense.
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