Real Wealth Concepts

10 Ways to be a Successful Incompetent

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Skill isn’t a prerequisite for success within a big corporation

Because companies are so large and overly complex, it is difficult to measure the ROI of many individual or team initiatives.

Moreover, old and large companies benefit from their entrenched market positions and can generate revenues despite the incompetency of their staff. Weak execution eventually impacts performance, but individuals within a corporate bureaucracy can ride historical momentum for years.

This type of environment is perfect for the person who accomplishes little.

People build entire careers getting very little of substance done. Many of these people aren’t malicious – they truly believe they’re contributing members of society. These people may be super-busy running from committee to committee, but at the end of the day you can’t measure how they affect any measurable outcome.

Yet, many of these folks rise to the top and are paid a king’s ransom. In fact, it seems like you must become one of these people in order to rise to the top.

Below I’ve outlined 10 ways you too can become a successful incompetent, if that’s what you desire:

Warning: I’m being facetious. Personally, I think the world needs people who strive to make a difference. I don’t like it when people hide behind corporate bureaucracy to coast. In fact, many who do so are eventually uncovered to be posers.

  1. Instead of solving problems independently, turn every step of a task into a meeting. Let the group do the thinking for you while you capture all their ideas. Better yet, assign someone else to take meeting notes or don’t take notes at all. Need help with the action items from your last meeting? Set up another meeting to discuss. Repeat ad nauseum and delegate any actual work.
  2. Ask to be included on as many meetings as possible. Your presence alone infers status. Use the time to share your expertise. Better yet, use the time to challenge others’ ideas and work, suggest additional unnecessary steps that delay production.
  3. Be sure to advertise how busy your calendar is. Own your ridiculous schedule like every 30 minutes you spend in meetings grows revenues by 1%. Despite accomplishing nothing, act as if these meetings are important to the success of your organization.
  4. Parrot executive leadership’s ideas, phrases and jargon. By seeing themselves in you, they’ll automatically confer their own self-worth to you. This will also show the worker peasants how connected you are with executive leadership and that you are part of the upper crust. If a junior staff member actually musters up a thought of their own, quickly ring-fence it and take control before they start sharing. All good ideas rise through you.
  5. Don’t waste your time with Excel. That’s for junior analysts. Word? You’re not writing novels here. The mighty speak through PowerPoint. Turn every internal communication into an exercise in desktop publishing.
  6. Join politically progressive industry groups and charities to highlight to your peers that you are a person of good virtue and a leader for societal change. Of course, this won’t do any good if you don’t advertise your involvement. Spend more time promoting your involvement than you actually spend helping impact the cause.
  7. If you want to sound smart, turn nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns. You no longer “make decisions”. You now “decision” things. Only chumps explain what they’re “asking” for. Heroes tell you the “ask”. Feel free to come up with your own interesting ways to butcher everything you learned in grade school English. The less comprehensible the better.
  8. Turn work into a social club. “Lead” the team by organizing feel-good activities – scavenger hunts, mini-golfing and other forced fun. “Caring” for the team will position you as someone critical to the team’s overall success. The trick is to “sponsor” the idea but actually get the peons to execute it. Introverts will hate you, but your peers will see your leadership qualities as you turn the activity into an agenda item for weeks at executive-level meetings. Just don’t tell them Sally from accounting scrambled to arrange everything, while struggling to do her day job. Save that shout-out for the day of the event when everyone can see Sally running around with a clipboard. By thanking her publicly you’ll cement your sponsorship position and command over junior staff.
  9. When you or your team actually complete something meaningful promote it incessantly. Amplify the significance of the achievement and share with as many as possible.
  10. Finally, look and act the part. Dress well, walk tall, talk loud and act as if you are successful. Build alliances with competent people and invest time to manage up. All that matters is that your boss believes you’re making a difference.