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Three Kinds of Stupid: Avoid Project Failure | Video

Three Kinds of Stupid - Avoid Project Failure

In a recent video, I talked about Three Concepts that will Make You a Smarter Project Manager. Now let’s take a look at the three things that people seem to regard as particularly stupid.

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

What is stupid?

This comes from research by Balazs Aczel and his colleagues*, who collected 180 stories about stupid behavior. They condensed them all into two-sentence summaries.

They then exposed all the summaries to 154 students who rated each one for:

  • Overall intensity of stupidity
  • Level of blame, for 30 psychological factors

This gave a correlation of which psychological factors contributed most to high levels of stupidity. All of the top three categories of stupid are relevant to the mistakes Project Managers make.

Big Leadership Roles Attract More Scorn

It is also worth noting that the more serious the consequences were, the more stupid the act seemed. They also rated acts as more serious when the person concerned was in a responsible position.

So, what are the top three kinds of stupid?

In order of stupidity…

  1. Confident Ignorance’ – where the person lacked important knowledge or skills, but acted anyway.
  2. ‘Lack of [self] Control’ – this is really about ill-discipline. For example, failing to attend a meeting because you cannot tear yourself away from something less important. I added the word ‘self’.
  3. ‘Absentmindedness – lack of practicality’ – failing at practical tasks – often due to lack of concentration.

So, will you resolve to avoid stupidity?

If you want to know more about why projects fail, I wrote a Kindle-exclusive eBook and a sort video course, listing the ten common causes of project failure, and specific instances of each:

* The original paper:

What is stupid?: People’s conception of unintelligent behavior
Aczel, B., Palfi, B., & Kekecs, Z. (2015)
Intelligence: Volume 53, November–December 2015, Pages 51-58


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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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