More Types of Stupidity

i) Stupidity paradox (engines of stupidity)

"...from dozens of executives who rely on consultants' PowerPoints rather than careful analysis, headmasters and teachers who spend their time enthusiastically talking about vague but positive organisational values rather than educating students, managers who try to be inspiring leaders even though their subordinates are not interested and are capable of working on their own, senior figures in the armed forces preferred to run rebranding exercises than military exercises, engineers who overlook fatal flaws, IT analysts who prefer to ignore problems so as not to undermine the tone of their workplace, senior executives to keep on launching programs for change yet have no serious interest in the outcome......Universities......too many kinds of stupidity to mention: pointless rebranding exercises, ritualised box-ticking, thoughtless pursuit of rankings, etc..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

"...otherwise smart people stop thinking and start doing stupid things. They stop asking questions......instead of complex thought we get flimsy jargon, aggressive assertions or expert tunnel vision. Reflection, careful analysis and independent reflection decay. Idiotic ideas and practices are accepted as quite sane. People may harbour doubts about their suspicions......What's more, they are rewarded for least in the short term. By avoiding careful thinking, People are able to simply get on with the job. Asking too many questions is likely to upset others - and to distract yourself. Not thinking frees you up to fit in and get along. Sometimes it makes sense to be stupid......we live in an age where a type of stupidity has triumphed..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

There is evidence that certain types of stupidity can work in the short term but create problems in the long term.

Need to be careful of terms being commoditised like knowledge, learning, talent, wisdom, creativity, innovation, intelligence, judgement, reasoning, etc plus knowledge clusters, science parks, innovation zones, talent corridors, smart cities, knowledge worker, etc

"...people can be rewarded for having the right appearance, the right beliefs and the right attitudes..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

ii) Functional stupidity (the inclination to reduce one's scope of thinking and focus only on the narrow, technical aspects and being clueless beyond this narrow domain; there is no reflection on the purpose and the wider context, ie to avoid thinking too much about exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it and its potential implications)

For example, if the focus is on action-orientation, ie just do it. It becomes the standard marching orders.

Many organisations which claim they can differentiate themselves from others in the industry are more often copying a successful organisation

"...When people are obsessed with buying into success recipes and taking action, for instance, they are relieved of the burden of actually having to consider tacit assumptions they act on, and the implications of their actions..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

"...many organisations claim they rely on well educated, reflective, bright people who are eager to learn. The sad reality is that they actually rely even more on almost the opposite: discipline, order, mindless enthusiasm, conformity, loyalty and a willingness to be seduced by the most ludicrous of ideas..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

The name of the game is to persuade your clients/customers that you are smart.

"...interest in knowledge and intelligence in some cases can drive ignorance and poor judgement. Decades of research......shows that when people are afraid of looking stupid they tend to miss opportunities..."

Carol Dweck as quoted by Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

There is a lopsided focus on convincing

"...your employees that they are knowledge workers employed in a knowledge-intense firm that competes in the offers employees the chance of being smart and at least occasionally doing smart things..."

Mat Alvesson at al, 2016a

Yet most people in the knowledge economy do routine, not smart, work.


Search For Answers

designed by: bluetinweb

We use cookies to provide you with a better service.
By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our policy. I understand