numer 020
Marzec 2023

Functional stupidity

I have been asked time and time again:
Adolek, why do you bother to write your column Much Adolek about Nothing?
Before I answer “why”, I will describe what, and what not, I usually write about. Unlike most people, who write on how wonderful things are (la vie en rosé), I try to bring up important issues that - in my personal view – should be discussed/debated. I do not pretend to know the answers, nor I'm the type who complains endlessly. Instead, I believe that to find solutions to problems, we need to define them first, discuss them and even joke about them. It is like alcoholics in AA, the first step is to accept you are one – I have been told, no personal anecdote.
My policy is simple, I try to inspire my (especially young) university colleagues (#Fandoleks/#AdolFans) that they are not alone in expecting changes for a better, more stimulating, more open and more fair university. At times, I do bring up frustrating situations that, I strongly believe, have yet to be addressed as they affect our work gravely. Very rarely, I might bring up some “spicy” comments on things we just do not talk about. And I do this in my own style. To be frank, I do not care what anybody thinks about me, and I use my freedom of expression to bring these issues to the table. Finally, I do not use this to make personal attacks nor as a platform to aggrandise or promote (*) myself … Adolek does not need that to be grand!

With all that established, now the “why”:
My commentaries attempt to avoid falling into functional stupidity - the inability of organisations to adapt to change due to following archaic procedures or taken decision without open discussion or questioning problems (Alvesson & Spicer, 2012).

I have previous mentioned, that university administration is (often) waiting for “signals from above” instead of planning well in advance (see “the decorative serviette”). One does not need to be a clairvoyant to know about what kind of changes are likely going to be implemented. Yet, no discussion on this subject ever occurs. Even worse, the research and teaching “communities” (they do not really exist yet in my opinion) seem more preoccupied in fulfilling forms/slots than making better, long(er)-term, more exciting plans. And administration is also more interested in keeping the status quo than trying to excel as a community – often at the expense of innovative ideas to the challenges ahead (see “collective success”).

BTW, when I say “administration” what I mean is the overall system, not single persons – many of whom I know are trying their best to improve things but often finding themselves pushed down by the system. Never give up!

Thus, my commentaries are just to bring those things up to the surface.

On occasion, my commentaries will be just drawings – an image says more than a thousand words.

Hope you enjoy them, if you do not, do not read them! I do not mind at all. I will keep writing as far as there is a handful of people who appreciate by comments: the #Fandoleks/#AdolFans.

Alvesson, M. and Spicer, A. (2012), A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 49: 1194-1220.

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