12 July 2021

Episode 003: Unlearning for Success with Barry O'Reilly
Recognizing the Need for Changing a Once Successful Mindset and Behaviors


Welcome to another episode of The Thinking Leader podcast, brought to you by Red Team Thinking. In this episode, your host Bryce Hoffman talks to Barry O’Reilly about the need for leaders to “unlearn” things that are no longer valid or no longer serve them and explains how major corporations have used his unlearning process to achieve greater success.

Barry is a business advisor, entrepreneur, and author of the book Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results. He is also the co-author of the international bestseller: Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale. Barry is a speaker, writer, and contributor to The Economist, Strategy+Business, and the MIT Sloan Management Review. He also is a member of the faculty at Singularity University the founder of ExecCamp, the entrepreneurial experience for executives. His mission is to help purposeful, technology-led businesses innovate at scale.


“Most of the best leaders I’ve ever worked with, they are natural experimenters. They want to get good information to make great decisions.” – Barry O’Reilly

Top 10 Takeaways:


[1:30] Barry explains the concept of unlearning.

[7:23] Capital One, a case study of successful unlearning. unlearn.

[11:45] Bryce and Barry talk about the difference between a decision-making process and a decision-making practice.

[13:50] Why so many digital transformations fail.

[16:19] Use crises as springboards for positive transformation.

[23:00] All you can do when confronted with chaos is act.

[24:15] Becoming a more agile, more resilient leader.

[25:35] Signs you need to unlearn and adapt.

[28:18] What do you do if you’re not the one in charge of an organization that needs to unlearn?

[35:30] How to start unlearning.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Brought to you by Red Team Thinking

Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results, by Barry O’Reilly

Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale, by Jez Humble, Joanne Molesky, and Barry O'Reilly


Find Out More


Read Barry’s blog

See what Barry has to say on Twitter

Subscribe to Barry’s podcast

Join Barry’s newsletter

Sign up for Bryce’s newsletter

Connect with Bryce on Linkedin

Contact Bryce on Twitter

Download & Share

Think differently.

More Episodes

Episode 1

Hear how Alan saved not one, but two iconic American companies.

Episode 2

On our second episode we get to hear from the creator of PreMortem Analysis.

Episode 3

You won't want to miss this episode on unlearning things in the corporate world.