Disruptive thinking – how does it help?

Most of us do what we have always done. In fact, craziness has been defined as expecting something different when you do as you always have done! So how do we change or improve our practice?

Often, it starts with a disruption in thinking; some new knowledge, a different way of looking at or analysing what is around us. However, this is often accompanied with feelings of frustration – it doesn’t make sense, feel comfortable, fit with my current experience… I don’t have the time or energy to go there!

Perhaps this is what happens to most good ideas?

Sometimes, however, a new way of thinking catches, tantalises us, is reinforced by discussion with others, is supported by further reading or investigation. We start down the path of what if… We look for more evidence to support or refute our perspective. Most of us are social learners, and we look to our opinion leaders and respected colleagues. Many of us want to debate more before we really accept or understand.

and then, just occasionally new ideas take hold and change our ways of thinking for ever. We assume a new way of doing things and forget that we ever doubted it. Think about your initial reactions to using a smart phone, a satellite navigation system, or truly mastering a new skill. Many new behaviours are preceded by a period of doubt and uncertainty.

and so the challenge for those of us in education is to present the early steps of disruptive thinking as a normal part of the educational process; provide opportunities to engage in debate, accept the frustration, and reinforce the new thinking. Usually it is hard to remember how our thinking has changed!


I conduct and supervise research that promotes the translation of quality research evidence for use in clinical practice.

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Posted in behaviour, change, knowledge, thinking

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