Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

October 30, 2010

I read this absolutely rollicking article on human stupidity and its implications on society a few months back and I suspect it has my attention forever and will make me link a lot of what I know with the logic that it applies. The article has flavours of social economics, psychology, human behavior and humor. A simultaneously wonderful, entertaining and thought-provoking article, in my perception. Highly recommended.

If you are wondering where I might go from here, I think there’s a link between knowledge management and the human behavior referred to in the article. Caveat: The rest of this post may not make sense unless you read the article first.

I think the pursuit of knowledge management is a precise and perfect example of the effort to be intelligent, relating to the Intelligence block in the article – as opposed to the other three blocks called H (Helpless), B (Bandit) and S (Stupid) – because it is about yielding a gain to yourself while causing a gain to others as well. Both Knowledge Management as well as Intelligence (as referred to in this article), are after all, about a combination of sharing and learning or collaborating (working together to achieve something).

At the risk of sounding somewhat obsessed with knowledge and being idealistic, pursuing Knowledge Management in its truest sense, I believe, will put us all – in due course of time – in the I (Intelligent) block and help the organization/society as a whole (even though sometimes it may seem like we are in the H (Helpless) block when we come across some Bandits who only want to use our material but not share anything that they may have created or discovered). Positive thinking will lead us to perhaps converting the “Bandits” and “Helpless” into “Intelligent” people who are always looking for a win-win situation. grin

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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