Apply 'Schumpeterianism' To Push Through Criticism And Get Things Done

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Schumpeterianism, or "creative destruction", has a quite specific meaning in economic theory. For those of us looking to get things done, it means the ability to let go of old ways and embrace teardowns and criticism.

Photo by Joanna Penn

Schumpeterianism gets its name from Joseph Schumpeter, an influential Austrian-American economist. A consistent element of Schumpeter's approach: the processes that lead to change and innovation can't happen without criticising and tearing down standard ways of working.

On an individual level, this means learning to embrace criticism, even if that involves a total takedown of your existing approach. Ideally, that new approach will inevitably lead you to better things.

In Michael Dearing's The Five Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done presentation (linked below), he outlines Schumpeterianism in this way:

Definition - sees creative destruction as natural, necessary, and as their vocation

Benefits - fearlessness, tolerance for destruction and pain

Deadly risk - heartless ambition, alienation

If you can embrace that kind of creative destruction as a natural, necessary part of work, you won't be so bothered by criticism, and you won't feel personally offended since you know this is part the natural path to better results. That doesn't mean you have to accept all criticism blindly, but keeping this in mind will help you put your personal feelings aside and take a more analytical view. You'll be more willing to watch your work be ripped up if you know the feedback is for the best.

Check out the slides from Dearing's presentation below for discussions of other "cognitive distortions" that can influence productivity.

The Five Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done [Stanford via Kottke]


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