Today I was lucky enough to attend a seminar by André Spicer on A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organisations. The premise was that knowledge intensive companies (!) tend to treat their highly educated people in such a way that they start acting in ways that could be called “stupid”. This typically happens through behaviour which aims at reducing reflexivity, a focus on the use intellectual capacities in a purely instrumental (myopic) way, and an increasing avoidance of justifications (just do it because I tell you to or because everybody else it doing it).
It struck me how wide-spread this mechanism seems throughout companies. It typically starts with good intentions (let’s all go in the same direction) and it often has good albeit short term results – Spicer calls this functional stupidity…. However, then this “capability” slowly turns into a rigidity and your organisation or company becomes stu…. oh well, less and less smart.
So, how smart is your company or organisation? And what could you do about it?