Learned Stupidity

I recently got a letter from a manager at work about a website I’ve been helping implement. She was complimentary, and then noted she didn’t know how to register for the site. She had found a link called “new member registration”. Was this the place, she asked, where she could register?

It seems like a dumb question, and y’know, it actually is. She’s far from stupid, but suffers from something I’ve noticed more and more in management – in trying to be more customer centric, they act dumb. The fault in this argument is customers may be impatient, short of time or energy, but not actually stupid. In the three days previous to her comment 300 people had signed up at the site, and a good 300 signed up three days after that.

I’m not saying you don’t have to go out of your way to make every thing you have a part in helping design as streamlined and enjoyable experience as you can. You don’t have to make it dumb though.

I have a suspicion this learned stupidity is a corporate response to risk aversion – which will make you few enemies, but just bland every service at worst into a sense of mild irritation, with the best being an invisibility.  It will never, ever lead to joy.