Cargo cult thinking is a term used to describe the belief that success can be achieved simply by copying the actions or behaviors of others, without a full understanding of the underlying principles or processes that make those actions effective. It is named after the cargo cults that emerged in some traditional societies in response to the arrival of Western goods and technology, in which people constructed mock airplanes and radios and performed rituals in an attempt to bring about the return of the Westerners and the cargo they brought.

Cargo cult thinking is similar in that it involves the belief that success can be achieved by simply imitating the actions or behaviors of others, without a full understanding of why they are effective. This can lead to a lack of creativity and innovation, as people may be too focused on replicating the behaviors of others rather than developing their own ideas or approaches.

In a business context, cargo cult thinking can manifest as a tendency to focus on superficial or trendy practices or buzzwords such as "disrupt" or "scale", without fully understanding their value or relevance to the business or industry. This can lead to a lack of critical thinking and a failure to identify the underlying principles or strategies that are driving success in the industry.

Cargo cult thinking is a problematic approach to success because it assumes that the specific actions or behaviors being imitated are the key to success, rather than a deeper understanding of the principles or processes behind them. It is important to strive to understand the underlying principles and processes at work in order to be truly effective and successful.

Taking a scientific approach to learning and experimentation involves a deeper level of understanding and analysis that can lead to more effective and sustainable practices. By continually testing and refining our practices based on empirical evidence and a clear understanding of the principles that underlie them, we can avoid falling into the trap of cargo cult thinking and stay ahead of the curve in our industry.