Learning to Unlearn – Barry O’Reilly on The Product Experience "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs November 11 2019 True Barry OReilly, Organisational Transformation, podcast, The Product Experience, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 580 Barry O'Reilly on The Product Experience Product Management 2.32

Learning to Unlearn – Barry O’Reilly on The Product Experience


Barry O'Reilly

Author, advisor, professor, and podcaster Barry O’Reilly joined us on The Product Experience where we learned that he has a lot of sympathy for senior executives. These are people, he points out, whose entire career has led them to a position of responsibility and reward – so it naturally follows that the behaviours that got them to this point are the same ones that should ensure continued success.

But, when an organisation is going through a transformation – or trying to disrupt itself before an outside force does the work for it – that attitude can stymie any chance for change.  That’s when it’s essential to engage in what Barry calls The Cycle of Unlearning: Unlearn, Relearn and Breakthrough.

As product people, we have the challenge of embracing this attitude, but also fostering it at all levels of our organisations – managing up, laterally, and down.  In this week’s podcast, Barry gives us practical advice on how to do just that – and why it’s so important.

Quote of the Episode

It’s not organisations that get disrupted, it’s really individuals.  Individuals are the people who lead organisations. What they have to realise is that, sometimes, their existing behaviour may be limiting the outcomes they’re aiming for.

Listen if you’d like to learn more about

  • The Unlearn concept
  • Managing transformations

Links mentioned in this episode


The Product Experience is hosted by Lily Smith and Randy Silver.

Lily enjoys working as a consultant product manager with early-stage and growing startups and as a mentor to other product managers. Lily has spent 13 years in the tech industry working mainly with startups in the SaaS and mobile space. She has worked on a diverse range of products – leading the product teams through discovery, prototyping, testing and delivery. Lily also founded ProductTank in Bristol, the Product Managers’ meetup with regular events and talks on Product now with 800+ members and growing. Now the Product Director at Symec, Lily also runs ProductCamp in Bristol and Bath.

A recovering music journalist and editor, Randy has been working as an interactive producer and product manager across the US and UK for nearly 20 years. After launching Amazon’s music stores in the US and UK, Randy has worked with museums and arts groups, online education, media and entertainment, retail and financial services. He’s held Head of Product roles at HSBC and Sainsbury’s, where he also directed their 100+-person product community. Now a trainer, Discovery and Leadership consultant, he’s spoken at Mind the Product Engage (Hamburg and Manchester), the Business of Software, Turing Festival, a number of ProductTanks (London, Zurich, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, and Brighton… so far!) and at conferences across the US and Europe.

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