February 16, 2018

Skilled Incompetence in Modern Business

Melbourne office workers come clean with "skilled incompetence" strategy.

Neo-modern office workers with a passion for frappuccinos and smashed avocados are not happy again. And for once, it's not because of avocado or coffee prices.

Hailing from a range of lowly designations including public sector pay negotiators, all the way through to online marketers — the underbelly of the Australian middle-class is once again complaining about being taken for granted, being underappreciated and not having their feelings respected at all times.

“The amount of stuff I have to know as a CEO is simply outrageous and I’m not enjoying it,” says the beleaguered and knowledge-allergic Lee-Joe Stumbleby, a bible-thumping corporate train-wreck facilitator, based in Melbourne, Australia.

With over 20 years of working experience applying unretained knowledge, Stumbleby now plies his trade at StocksAnalogue, a retrograde marketing company focusing on analogue communications and obtaining a skilfully-incompetent competitive edge compared to its digital rivals.
Lee-Joe Stumbleby fields questions regarding company operations and macroeconomic market themes.
“Why should I have to know whimsical stuff like corporate governance, industry trends, logistical efficiencies, market rules and good market ideas?” asks the shrugging Stumbleby.

“From what Jesus [Christ] tells me, I can obtain a competitive edge just with the power of unwaveringly-positive thinking and be blagging the rest as I go along. I am reliably advised that as long as I have the best intentions then everything will be fine.”

“And if I can trojan-horse a few of my pals from previous calamity-stuffed corporate fiascos into the fold at StocksAnalogue, then I can really achieve something special here,” insists Stumbleby.
Underworked StocksAnalogue staffer attempts internal company challenge of eating a bacon-egg McMuffin while gripping a pencil with his face, dubbed the 'Bonus Multiplicator Challenge' by StocksAnalogue staff.
“The first low-flying turd-spinner I hired was Riyan Thymeburner. We’ve collaborated on corporate howlers in the past, so he knows exactly how nonchalantly I concoct flagrant nonsense on the fly and make it all stick long enough to collect a juicy paycheck,” says the evangelical Stumbleby.

“Riyan is helping me forge StocksAnalogue’s path to glory — and it’s all going to happen via analogue technology,” he adds.
StocksAnalogue Chief Evangelist Riyan Thymeburner deploying his fatigue-mitigation strategy.
But how does Stumbleby respond to the revelation that a black eye obtained whilst interloping overseas, was the result of a punch thrown by a disgruntled man displeased with Stumbleby’s woeful demeanour and abysmal social aptitude?

“I deny such slanderous rumours wholeheartedly!” barks the embattled Stumbleby. “I fell onto a left-handed door and my eye connected mis-adventurously with a knob that belonged to the door...let’s just leave it at that – but sufficed to say I learnt my lesson. Let’s move on to something more enjoyable to discuss, or this interview is over,” roars Stumbleby.
Dank meme showing perverted nature of corporate project management performance, exemplified by stalwart skilful incompetence pioneers such as StocksAnalogue.
Corporate office life was never this lacklustre by historical standards. In the good old days of the 1980s, office jobs first began being recognised as an efficient method for earning exorbitant sums of money, by answering phones and sending low-resolution faxes from smoke-friendly offices.

Alas, how things have changed. In the 21st century, office-workers make peanuts without having to answer phones whilst sending high-definition claptrap amongst each other in between ciggie breaks.

It would seem that, as computers grew in their ability to hold more information and communicate at greater speeds over greater distances, so too did the human spirit swan-dive in proportional antithesis; to career directly into a minimalist stagnation-state that’s been dubbed ‘Skilled Incompetence’ by the Harvard Business Review back in 1986 (and adopted by StocksAnalogue today):
Front cover of Harvard Business Review in October 1986.
The Harvard Business Review states that skilled incompetence is an operational strategy whereby managers use practised routine behaviour (skill) to produce what they do not intend (incompetence).”

Excerpt from Harvard Business Review.

In modern offices, the concept of skilled incompetence can be observed when less-knowledgeable Senior executives micromanage and interfere with the work of junior yet more talented individuals. This is typically done by setting counterproductive monotonous targets and ignoring pragmatic assessments of any kind via pre-rehearsed critique-deflective rebuttals.

If allowed to fester and breed as a company-cultural meme, skilled incompetence can make it impossible for employees to disagree without upsetting each other; or in other words, it becomes impossible to tell an idiot they are an idiot without being reprimanded, while the idiot is promoted for being polite.
StocksAnalogue staff compete in a game of Tiddlywinks, with this week’s winner deciding the colour of new company business cards.
As a business strategy, skilled incompetence has been largely consigned to the scrapheap, but courtesy of retrograde pioneers like StocksAnalogue, this stone-dead strategy is undergoing an unexpected resurrection.

Historic emulation

“We like to emulate 1980s thinking and excel at being skilfully incompetent, here at StocksAnalogue,” claims Stumbleby. “I personally like to deploy gas-lighting, hollow promises, meagre incentives and gnarly punitive measures as my favourite means of regimenting my serving staff. It works a treat and helps to preserve a positive aura in our cosy, sweet, lovely, respectful, safe, tranquil, air-conditioned, artificially beautiful office in Melbourne,” says Stumbleby, wheezing from the exhaustive listing exercise he had just completed. “It’s a shame no one has a clue what they’re doing though; but I’m working on it, I promise,” he says.

“We’ve done away with finger-pointing and substituted it with back-rubbing policies that are sure to create outstandingly blissful feelings of togetherness amongst serving staff. We’re on track to reach ultimate happiness, perfect air quality, state-of-the-art carpet cleanliness and we’ve launched our brand-new gold stickers incentivisation scheme, to be distributed amongst serving staff,” says the visibly jolly Stumbleby.
StocksAnalogue hot-desk.
“Yes, revenues have taken a hit; and yes, we’ve overstretched without knowing our arse from our elbow; and yes goddammit, client-retention has gone walkabout ­— but if everyone wallows in hedonistic enjoyment we’ll all feel great about ourselves and eventually succeed. At the end of the day, what more can a CEO ask for?” asks the suddenly thoughtful-looking Stumbleby.

But what about company performance, quality control, sales revenues and fending off the competition?

Lee-Joe Stumbleby swoops in and answers candidly: “That stuff doesn’t hold a candle to everyone being nice to each other and holding hands to sing kumbaya once a week, before getting drunk and calling it company culture. When it comes to peak performance: there’s ‘what’ you do, and then there’s ‘how’ you do it,” he says.

"I’m solely focusing on ‘how’ we do things around here, not ‘what’. I’ve taken it upon myself to organise regular beverage breaks, intermittent procrastination-sessions, door-opening etiquette training, criticism-rebuttal mentoring, additional wallowing time, hot-coffee-mug-carrying practice and mandatory group chit-chat sessions to boost morale. I’d rather know we all felt good, rather than achieved something,” says the stern-looking Stumbleby.

“Just last month, as a special gift to all StocksAnalogue staff, I spent the company’s discretionary bonus pool on launching the world’s first in-house corporate cattery equipped with proprietary cat-meme development equipment,” declares Stumbleby. 

“It means we can generate our very own cat-memes and share them globally without my serving staff having to surf the Internet whatsoever. Why look elsewhere when we can make our own?” he adds.
StocksAnalogue cattery, voted ‘Most Innovative Stagnation Location’ by 'Corporate Fee-Line' magazine.
“It’s looking absolutely shmick and uber dank, so everyone can thank me later. We’ve also made sure to patent the entire thing to high heaven which is probably worth something, who knows?” says Stumbleby.

But not everyone ends up on the blissful side of StockAnalogue’s skilful incompetence regime.

“I come in almost every day, bust my hump for like four or five hours, and what do I get? One hundred grand a year, that’s what. But it doesn’t feel like enough with allergy-plagued rug-rats screaming in one ear, a frigid wife in the other, and a boss that’s just itching to crawl up my asshole each day taking centre stage," moans Jonah Jaxipoodle, a chronically underachieving middle-aged salary-cheque-collector being paid by StocksAnalogue, but also deploying his incompetency onto other websites across the Internet.
Jonah Jaxipoodle makes enquiries about formulating an online marketing and investor relations strategy, despite wielding the mental capacity of a substitute PE teacher.
“The trick comes in getting yourself into a cushy senior position in a micro-sized blinkered company with more dollars than sense and no HR department,” says Jaxipoodle. “After that, I ensure the talented people do the legwork for me. It’s pure gravy from thereon in. I’ll tell ya something else, when I peddle my shit, not only does it not stink, I get a pretty dollar for it too,” he says.

"The only problem I have is when I fly off the handle with my uncontrollable anger and rabid profanity,  but I'm working on it with Lee-Joe's help. His mentoring ability is legendary. The last guy he mentored, went on to win Mediocre Man of the Year and I hope to achieve something of that ilk someday too," says the suddenly teary-eyed Jaxipoodle.
Former Stumbleby mentee Mr Babas Upashole, voted 'Mediocre Man of the Year' by 'Waste Management Monthly' magazine.

For whom the bell tolls

With some deft finessing, Jonah Jaxipoodle soon comes clean about the actual impact of skilful incompetence upon Melbourne office workers...

“Our products are weak, our salespeople can’t take notes, our writers can’t spell, our editors can’t edit, our social media is about as social as an agoraphobic north Korean, our IT guys know more about diapers than computers, and our CEO has about as much clue about our industry as a 5-year-old playing Cluedo for the first time,” says the despondent Jaxipoodle. “But worst of all, my wife has locked me out of my own Netflix account,” he groans.

As in all competitive environments, new starlets and young proteges are coming to the fore to knock outstanding low-flying skilled-incompetence merchants like Jonah Jaxipoodle from their perches.

“I want to excel in everything I do and win, even if it means winning a race to the bottom,” says Mr Jay San Rice, a thirty-something attention-span-deficient ignoramus and all-around liability at StocksAnalogue.
Mr Jay San Rice working on StocksAnalogue's staff-retention and remuneration policies.
“It's a work in progress. We specialise in squeezing the least possible potential from every venture, with the maximum of fuss and minimum of recurring revenue — all underpinned by a lackadaisical minimalist attitude here at StocksAnalogue. I know, it’s a doozy to get your head around, but I certainly have,” says Rice. "The price of success is perception-distortion and I’m a price-setter when it comes to wafting cow dung into other people’s blue sky,” insists Rice.

This is where technology makes the difference between making a delicious pie for all to share and making pie in the sky. Any analogue-loyal company in the modern Internet of Things(IoT) digital age must have a highly capable IT chieftain, preferably of the chunky variety to direct lankier and far spottier junior IT staffers to complete endless ad-hoc tasks.

"This place would fall apart without me," says routinely-absent IT evangelist Riyan Thymeburner. "It’s my responsibility to take StocksAnalogue to the next level, and I intend to do so by rolling out a ‘Bug Dissemination’ policy to ensure every new product launch has plenty of pitfalls for my clean-up crew to fumble around trying to solve. I’m also reallocating prime IT resources to ensure all staff have real-time access to ultra-HD cat-memes on all devices — it’s what the majority of my colleagues politely requested so I’m busy delivering.” 
StocksAnalogue Chief Evangelist Riyan Thymeburner, lost in a brainstorm of modes.
“The best way to get things done is just to do nothing for over a year and then claim everything’s changed,” says Thymeburner, slurping his supersized slushy and hoovering up his latest serving of handsfree spaghetti.

“If you overlay that with a bombastic pep talk by a bullshit-artist CEO, then you can convince the entire company to believe performance is improving when it is actually plummeting,” says Thymeburner. “It’s absolute magic and I commend Lee-Joe for the superb waxy lyrical repertoire he’s brought to the table here at StocksAnalogue,” he adds.
StocksAnalogue employee demonstrates proprietary technology enabling people to talk to themselves, dubbed the ‘Selective Tongue Oscillation Overtones Postulation Identification Device’ (STOOPID).
With the Age of Austerity now upon us making commercial competition fiercer than ever, skilled-incompetence-pioneer StocksAnalogue thinks the future is rosy despite the ominous objective facts. 

Triumphant in valiant hope, the factually-deviant Lee-Joe Stumbleby capped off a truly insightful glimpse into the world of Melbourne office workers by saying: “We’ll be OK  I hope. The market isn’t as competitive as people say, so we have plenty of slack to reshuffle our meagre capabilities before reality hits. Reality is what I believe and want it to be, and I happen to believe I will steer StocksAnalogue into the port of success, rather than beach it on craggy rocks of calamity. Although, I do try,” he quips. 

“Skilled incompetence is a back to the future strategy and it’s what I know best!” blurted the prostate-clutching Lee-Joe Stumbleby, as he waved away further questions and waddled off to his next appointment, rumoured to be a crisis meeting with a junior IT staffer regarding appropriate seating posture and back-patting averages amongst serving staff members.

Blurring personal and professional malpractice in a seamless orchestra of ignorance and incompetence, StocksAnalogue is leading from the back in adopting 
Skilled Incompetence as a corporate strategy and demonstrating how it can work in practice. 

Leaked photo of most-recent StocksAnalogue Board meeting.

Written by George Tchetvertakov


Due to overwhelming popular demand, the full cast of characters that served as inspiration for the article can now be revealed:

— The stars of StocksDigital

Lee Carlton Jones
Lee Carlton Jones
Click on image for detailed amateur profile
as Lee-Joe Stumbleby

Jason Price
Jason Price
Click on image for detailed amateur profile
as Jay San Rice

Ryan Verner
Ryan Verner
Click on image for detailed amateur profile
as Riyan Thymeburner

Jonathan Jackson
Jonathan Jackson
Click on image for detailed amateur profile
as Jonah Jaxipoodle

Abbas Heidari
Abbas Heidari
Click on image for detailed amateur profile
as Babas Upashole