Assume You Are Wrong

Kyle Ballarta
Sep 8, 2015 · 2 min read

Always assume you are wrong. If you believe in the notion that the world is a perpetually evolving and growing thing, then you must naturally accept that what you believe to be true today could possibly be wrong tomorrow and is true in the reverse. Those that claim to be experts and the sole gatekeepers to truth, without any possibility of contrarian belief, ultimately assume the world is a stagnant place. Those who live in a world of absolutes focus on optimization, incremental sophistication, but there is no new progress or transformative innovation.

The only absolute in the world is change. The history of innovation has taught us this time and time again.

Technology innovation has always been “wrong” before it was “right”. We know that disruptive technologies are considered “wrong” early in its lifecycle when it is introduced way ahead of its market acceptance. As markets and industries evolve into maturity (as our world tends to), what used to be a “wrong” technology now transforms into a “right” technology. It is impossible to be a disruptive innovation without first being “wrong”. Just as disruptive innovations change and propel industry, it is also impossible to change the world without being “wrong” against the current norms.

But also think about the notion that this works in the reverse too. Technologies that are incumbent and “right” within a market always face the challenge of change. Technologies that work today are never guaranteed to be useful or accepted tomorrow. Technologies that were once great now find misalignment to today’s markets and industries (e.g. CDs, MP3, streaming, etc). Complacency and the assumption that we are correct in absolutes is the reason why great firms remain stagnant while the world around them continues to move. The result is always a big fall.

At any point, you must assume you can be wrong. You must be “wrong” against the norms to introduce transformational change, and you must also assume that your “right” can become a “wrong” as the world changes around you. There is a humbleness that settles in when you realize this. Linear scientific progress becomes new scientific revolutions. Staunch beliefs and absolutes become more curious exploration. Hardline stances start to welcome collaborative dissonance. Harmony becomes the equilibrium between differences not the absence of them.

We are faced with many challenges: Challenges to innovate technology and industry, solve social issues, ensure environmental sustainability, create economic prosperity across the globe, and the list goes on. It will be the individuals, teams, and nations that commit themselves to this humble approach of curious exploration that will better navigate the unknowns toward a world of possibilities: A world no longer concerned about being right (whatever that means) but a world in constant pursuit of bettering itself every single day.

Kyle Ballarta

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