Recently I was able to observe a team member exerting real violence on software tools that he was using for completely unintended purposes.
Why? Because he was familiar with them. That is when I realized even more clearly that excessive degrees of knowledge and familiarity can represent an important obstacle in an age where we must upgrade our knowledge, at a jolting pace.
Unlearning can be as important as the ability to learn, when the pace of technological change provides everyone with increased abilities to collaborate, communicate, assign and deploy resources in order to solve our challenges.
When the pace of innovation was imperceptible, we could achieve status by perfecting and maintaining our position around mastering a set of tools and practices. The incentive was not ever to move beyond.
We are now in an age where that attitude is counter productive. We can, of course, achieve a certain degree of mastery of the tools and the methods and the processes that we are using, and spread that mastery in our teams, but the return on the investment of increasing that mastery above a certain level is negative. And the threshold, beyond which it becomes negative, is possibly lowering.
As soon as we arrive at a given level of mastery of the tools and methodologies, rather than investing our effort in increasing that level, we should start looking around, comparing the features and the benefits with those of alternatives, asking ourselves if what we are doing is fit for purpose. Very likely, by the time we are asking ourselves that question, new tools will indeed be available. Moving to the new tool will represent a positive change. In order to be able to move, we need to relinquish the comfort and the stability of working with the known and embrace the unknown early, rather than having to do it, infrequently, and under pressure.