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A Smart Thing To Do At Work May Be to Play Dumb

(NASA/Bill Ingalls/Getty Images)

Have you ever played dumb at work?  C’mon now, let’s be honest…playing dumb once in a while can be beneficial to the preservation of our employment, save us from getting stuck in the mire of office politics, and…possibly make our workplace more efficient!  “What was that last part?” you ask.  Let me explain this double-sided situation…

A couple of professors at Lund University in Sweden, Mats Alvesson and Andre Spicer, explain that “functional stupidity” can be a good thing in the workplace.  They say that having too many “smart” people in a company that overanalyze things and make too many alternative suggestions can disrupt workflow and slow down productivity.  They add that the best team players are people who complete their work without questioning their bosses.

Mats and Andre continue to say that “functional stupidity” has nothing to do with IQ.  After all, how many times have you and your co-workers kept your mouths shut because you knew the outcomes would result in a negative effect in one way or another?  Often we keep our mouths shut because of office politics, including fear of reprisal for speaking up.  That’s personally been true for me with several employers of my own.

Did you know that only 31 percent of employees are comfortable expressing their opinions to their bosses?  If you’re in the other 69 percent and you’re NOT comfortable sharing your true opinions to your boss, then your company is not part of the trend that gets employees involved in the creative and decision making process.  Think about how employee silence and “functional stupidity” inhibits employees and companies from the creative growth they could experience otherwise, not to mention the suppression of workplace morale.  If you’re a “boss,” this is something you should take seriously.

To read more about this issue regarding “A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations,” click here.


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