The Problem With Competence
Institutions and committees like to talk about core competencies, the basic things that a professional or a job seeker needs to know. Core competence? I’d prefer core incompetence.
Competent people have a predictable, reliable process for solving a particular set of problems. They solve a problem the same way, every time. That’s what makes them reliable. That’s what makes them competent. Competent people are quite proud of the status and success that they get out of being competent. They like being competent. They guard their competence, and they work hard to maintain it.
Over the past twenty to thirty years, we’ve witnessed an amazing shift in U.S.-based businesses. Not so long ago, companies were filled with incompetent workers. If you bought a Pacer from American Motors, it wasn’t all that surprising to find a tool hidden in a door panel of your new car. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for shipped products to be dead on arrival. Computers changed that. Now the receptionist can’t lose your messages, because they go straight into voice mail. The assembly-line worker can’t drop a tool, because it’s attached to a numerically controlled machine. The telemarketer who interrupts your dinner is unlikely to over-promise, because the pitch is carefully outlined in script form on paper. Oh, there’s one other thing: As we’ve turned human beings into competent components of the giant network known as American business, we’ve also erected huge barriers to change.
Competence is the enemy of change! Competent people resist change. Why? Because change threatens to make them less competent. And competent people like being competent. That’s who they are, and sometimes that’s all they’ve got. No wonder they’re not in a hurry to rock the boat.
If I’m going to make the investment and hire someone for more than the market rate, I want to find an incompetent worker. One who will break the rules and find me something no one else can.
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This blog post is an exact extract from the STOP STEALING DREAMS Manifesto written by Seth Godin.
It is available for free. Please READ and SHARE.