Be Stupid

Some of the worst images on the internet are stock photos, agreed? They are completely silly and, if I’m to be completely candid, it makes me question the intelligence of the person (or organization) that uses them, especially if they look like that image above.

Or, at the very least, I consider it just lazy – go find a better image or pay someone to take some shots for you…? I don’t know.

But for this article, in a very rare instance, the image is absolutely perfect:

Smart young things joining the workforce soon discover that, although they have been selected for their intelligence, they are not expected to use it.

They will be assigned routine tasks that they will consider stupid. If they happen to make the mistake of actually using their intelligence, they will be met with pained groans from colleagues and polite warnings from their bosses.

After a few years of experience, they will find that the people who get ahead are the stellar practitioners of corporate mindlessness.

I laughed, I cried, I shrugged a lot and I wondered how many of the best people and organizations eventually end up here:

Acting stupid at work is a subtle art. If you underdo it, people will suspect you are putting on an act. If you overdo it, they will start to think you are a liability. However, there are some tactics that skilled practitioners of corporate stupidity use to get it just right.

One of the most common tactics is doing what everyone else is doing, even if it is wrong. If your competitor introduces a new strategy, do the same – no matter how wrong-headed it might be. If another competitor starts a Total Quality Management initiative, follow suit.

It’s often advisable to copy iconic companies such as Google – even if you are in an entirely different industry. If you call it ‘best practice’, you might be hailed as a genius. When it goes wrong, you can say: ‘Well, everyone got it wrong.’

A worthwhile read. Now, time to make sure that you’re building something different. Something not stupid… because you’re not, right?

Also published on Medium.