Chris Argyris' "Teaching Smart People How To Learn" utterly changed the way I thought about management. It didn't just give me a somewhat different view; it convinced me of the exact opposite of what I had believed before I'd read it. That's a heck of a lot of influence for 10 and a half pages!
At the time, I was a director at the strategy consulting firm Monitor, and a few months before the article was published in the May-June 1991 issue, we had formed a four-person Global Executive Committee to run the firm, so I was more intimately involved in its management than I had ever been before.
We had a pretty simple recruiting philosophy during our swift ramp-up from inception in 1983 to that point in time: hire super smart consultants because, thanks to their great intellect, they will be able to learn best and fastest. In fact, we had a thoroughly obnoxious catchphrase — stupid is forever — that I am very embarrassed ever existed, and repeating it here is part of my penance for once holding the view. Its (deeply flawed) logic was that you could teach someone all the interpersonal skills necessary as long as they were really smart. But if they weren't really smart to begin with, there was nothing you could do.