Nothing’s so practical as a good theory

I don’t know about you, but I used to be that guy who talked a lot of theory. You know the kind of ideas that makes most people uncomfortable or shake their heads because they’re convinced that theories don’t work. 

So, yeah, I’m a “type.” And folks like me have a hard time trying to prove our theories right because:

  1. Nobody wants to listen to ideas that haven’t been tried before.
  2. It’s damn easy to critique than think of something by yourself.
  3. Everyone’s a special snowflake! 

Kurt Lewin once said, “there’s nothing so practical as a good theory.” And the reason why I believe him is because there are far more theories that lead us to nowhere than ones that are backed by examples, illustrations, and use cases. But that doesn’t mean all theories are flawed.

The challenge with theorists is that only a few take the time to pause and reflect on the implications of their theories from their industry’s standpoint. Now that could be management, leadership, manufacturing, or even psychology. 

Regardless, the onus is on the theorists to put in the effort to analyse and study the implications of their ideas before they even think about presenting or sharing it further. This developmental stage is imperative to growing a seed of an idea into a theory, which if nurtured also can develop into a concept. 

The thing about concepts is that it gives the end-users the freedom and flexibility to put together a bunch of concepts to form a cohesive system that’s incredibly powerful. You know, the kind that creates a breakthrough, changes the way we view or do things, and most importantly influences our culture. 

And it all starts with a simple idea that’s labelled “theoretical.” The key, as with all things, is to carefully evaluate, analyse, and test your theories until you’re sure it’s ready for prime time. Unfortunately, most theories aren’t ready and hence, never get to see the light of the day. 

So, while nothing’s so practical as a good theory, one must evaluate it before they can educate. 

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