December 27th, 2011

Incompetence Is Embedded Within Your Organization

Yes, Incompetence Is Embedded Within Your Organization.

No, It Will Never Completely Go Away.

I see at least three reasons why incompetence survives within most organizations.

First, humans are multi-functional; they do well in some areas and poorly in others. Sometimes, they are thrown into situations where their skill set is not a match. But because of their previous successes, or because no one else wants to do that job, they remain in place as an incompetent operator trying to feel their way through.


Secondly, and this is tied closely to the first example, some people are more proficient at socialization than actually getting the job done. How many times have you seen an under-qualified team member move up the ladder based on attending all of the boss’ birthday parties, playing golf with the decision-makers, and brown nosing in general? Their incompetence is tolerated or overlooked based on their popularity. Remember the kid that brought the teacher an apple each day? These individuals have learned to compensate for ineptness on an emotional level, which is actually more effective than analytics and metric-based results.

Finally, incompetence is sometimes tolerated because the organization is not capable of measuring competence. A small company may not have the personnel to oversee the IT guy or database specialist in order to identify the areas of weakness. The stuff is too complicated and the IT guy says it’s an old server and not his fault the computers keep going down.

Although incompetence can be minimized within an organization, it will never completely go away.

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