Incompetents May Not Know They Are Incompetent
By Evelyn M. Ryan, CPC
It is well understood, proven, and documented that to achieve goals we need to identify and deal with the obstacles that prevent us from achieving them. Some refer to these obstacles as “risks.” One of the primary obstacles or risks, we may have to deal with is the lack of knowledge, skills, or abilities we need to achieve the goal. Obviously we need the credentials to be a doctor, for example, that we would acquire through extensive education and training. The same principle can be applied to anything we desire to achieve.
It imperative then, to be able to identify what we don’t know so we can fill the gaps or even take advantage of opportunities that are afforded us.
What about incompetents? Where do they fit into the risk-based model for goal-setting? They (especially since I work with some of the brightest people in the world) have puzzled me for years since to me they stand out like sore thumbs. But they do not seem to know who they are?
They are the ones who hardly ever create or deliver anything on their own and manipulate others and put their names on other people's work.
They never take a class in anything unless they are forced to take one.
They act like they are experts in their fields when it is obvious to most they absolutely are not.
They are also the know-it-alls we meet everyday who really know very little and add little value.
In trying to address these questions, I come upon a possible answer, the Dunning-Kruger effect.
David Dunning and Justin Kruger identified a problem in the perception of incompetents that causes them to overate their abilities and not be able to recognize mistakes. This can weaken the real competent folks' self-confidence, since they may falsely assume that others have equal abilities.
David Dunning and Justin Kruger were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Psychology for their report, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How...