Conventional Wisdom and Its Discontents

I just started a book by business writer Art Kleiner, titled The Age of Heretics, in which he traces the history of the post-1945 revolution in management, from National Training Laboratories founder and social psychology Professor Kurt Lewin to contemporary leadership guru Tom Peters. Kleiner said the goal of the book was to provide an account of the “undertow” of the huge, stifling wave of “grey flannel suit” corporate culture, which few people questioned at the time.!@!

I bring this up because I’ve always been fascinated by contrarians, those who — instead of uncritically absorbing it — saw inherent flaws in the conventional wisdom and put forth new ideas. We sure could have used more of them in the run-up to the recent epic failure of the global financial system (or at least listened to the ones who issued warnings).

In the spirit of contrarian thinking, I’d like to pose the following question to CLO magazine readers: Can you think of any examples of conventional wisdom — ideas so commonly accepted that they’re taken for granted — in the learning industry today? What would you suggest should replace them?