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The Stupidity Paradox

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Book Review : The Stupidity Paradox

Submitted by: Amjad Ali Memon

ERP: 04266

Class Number: 11616

Time Slot: 11.30 am

Submitted to:

Dr. Nasir Afghan


Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Date: 27th Sept 2018

Table of Contents


Book Review : The Stupidity Paradox        1


Introduction to the book and audience        3

How Functional Stupidity happens?        3

5 Different types Functional Stupidity:        3

Functional Stupidity example in my own life        4

Stupidity from cases in book        4

Key take away’s from Book and further Analysis        5

Role of Cultures in Organizations        6

What are the benefits of Functional stupidity?        6

How to Dispel Stupidity        7

Introduction to the book and audience

The authors Andre Spicer and Mats Alvesson have observed workplace closely and published a book based on their observations in terms of enlightening one the major topics under what they term as “Functional Stupidity”. The book I believe is for audience who understand work place, organizations and individuals who have spent years working professionally and answer questions mentioned in the book on daily terms.

How Functional Stupidity happens?

The book mentions “Functional Stupidity” which they convey happens when individuals at workplace who are intelligent and with excellent qualifications stop questioning about their work. They only focus on the technical prospect of the job while doing it they stop thinking on a broader term of the implication or end result of it. These are the type of people who even get promoted, organization functions as a whole but they stop asking or searching questions. The book gives examples of people in jobs who tick boxes for management, please the clients but at same time they are doing work that makes little sense. I believe this refers to bank employees who tick boxes and do not realise how the end financial product they ticking is of any good.Steve Jobs is given as an example of Functional stupidity paradox where his stupid ideas came to grief while his ludicrous ideas always paid off, where many idiotic ideas can lead to have positive effects as well.

5 Different types Functional Stupidity:

There are five types of Functional Stupidity that is mentioned in the book where the first one where individuals think they are inspirational leaders but at same time separate themselves from their followers. Second are the ones who in organizations copy others for no reason. Other follow pointless policies and procedures and the last where some of them encourage a culture of positive culture where employees are looking at the positive side only.

1980’s emerged for the term knowledge workers who were in fields of accountants, management consultants, lawyers and communication specialists who could practically solve problems at work place. Hence, these are the people who are then asked to do stupid things at their workplace.

The solution to the problem is to make knowledge workers realize they operating in knowledge intensive workplace which competes in knowledge economy- even when they are not. The issue has occurred due to many adults now attending college but their demand from firms has not risen in same proportion. This way these kind of workers believe their glow of smartness and in reality doing less smart things.

Functional Stupidity example in my own life

I can relate to the book with my own personal example where with time at my organization that was in B2B sector. I worked their for almost 3 years and left due the fact I started questioning the impact of the work. I soon realized that the work had become monotonous and was not adding extra value to my career and organization as a whole.

Though I  got the much deserved promotion but at the end of the day my long term impact mattered for me. Organizations like the ones I worked in acted stupidity by following the industry leader and were reluctant in taking new chances or experimenting at same time due to its reluctant in appreciating new ideas. The book rightly identifies such organizations where the managers are busy in their own world focusing only on data results rather than the qualitative information from their subordinates.

Stupidity from cases in book

I like how the author relates examples to explain different functional stupidity. The case of Benjamin Booker where he considered himself as genuine leader where he was successfully building relationships at his newspaper business firm. When he moved to publishing company with his current role things didn’t work the same way and people started considering him phoney. This highlights the fact that Managers talk about vision, engaging followers but rarely walk the leadership walk and they are always engrossed in management work that takes up most of the time.

Another example is given of Military leadership when functional stupidy is discussed. In such extremes organizations demand high level of compliance from their subordinates, where followers cannot think freely or express themselves. In military they follow what their leaders command them to do. So one cannot imagine an army where subordinates start thinking of every orders before executing them.

When in organizations that join the bandwagon and example is given of Wallander who is Swedens most respected business leader and sat on boards of many companies of financial sector in Europe. He pointed out that how senior executives follow like the herd of sheeps and go to pastures that are green.They follow without realising that it may suit their company or industry or not. This is very common in Pakistan where Manufacturing firms follow others different from the core business they fall in.



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