In the famous “Star Wars” films when Luke Skywalker is learning to master the Force – his trainer, Jedi Master Yoda, says the famous line:
“You must unlearn what you have learned“.
These seven words capture a fundamental principle of Improvement Science – that very often we have to unlearn before we can improve.
Unlearning is not the same as forgetting – because much of what we have learned is unconscious – so to unlearn we first have to make our assumptions conscious.
Unlearning is not just erasing a memory, it is preparing the mental ground to replace the learning with something else.
And we do not want to unlearn everything – we want to keep the nexus of knowledge nuggets that form the solid foundation of new learning. We only want to unlearn what is preventing us adding new understanding, concepts and skills – the invisible layer of psychological grease that smears our vision and leaves our minds slippery and unable to grasp new concepts.
We need to apply some cognitive detergent and ad some heated debate to strip off the psycho-slime. The best detergent is I have found is called Reality and the good news is that Reality is widely available, completely free and supplies will never run out.