Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


It's not easy being clever. So I'm told.

Your inner thoughts race along on a plane that seems unfamiliar to most.

Your perceptions of reality seem slightly askew.

Even your jokes incite blank stares.

And then there's all the desperate mundanities you have to deal with. Like small talk, filling out forms and talking down to people.

It seems, indeed, that clever people might not be cut out for business. At least, the sort of business that's performed in offices.

Research by Steelcase, a company that claims to bring solutions to workspaces, suggests that intelligent people aren't good at some of the basics.

Prioritizing several tasks, for example.

They struggle to focus. There's always something else on their minds. Which is hardly surprising if your mind is, say, 30 percent bigger than anyone else's. There's so much more room.

You wonder, though, if the new tech nirvana that we're all forced to tolerate makes smart people even less productive.

This survey of 10,000 people in 17 countries found that the average worker has 8 program windows open at once.

You might sniff that three of them are likely Facebook, Twitter and YouPorn. Still, there's a lot of things demanding our attention.

Our phones, for example. Workers check their phones every three minutes on average.

Why are they checking? Because that's what we do. We seek the irrelevant in order not to think about the turgid tasks at hand. This must be especially true of smart people.

Apparently, truly intelligent people struggle because they try to deal with each problem as it arises.

It's as if they've never lived. It's as if they never realized that life can often throw several crafty pitches at once.

Then there's the absurd obsession with open-plan work areas. Honestly, most people struggle with tolerating just one person in the open-plan setting of home.

Isn't it slightly unreasonable to expect them to tolerate scores of possibly malodorous individuals who all pretend to be friends, but actually would happily tear each other's hearts out with a pickax and a shovel? And they're all right next to you.

It's stimulating, though, that smart people might have particular problems. One intimation is that as soon as they discover there are several things to be done -- possibly even at once -- they become overwhelmed by their own inadequacy.

Does this mean that intelligent people should be coddled with a "There, there. You're so astonishingly smart. We're so sorry to have put you through this pain"?

Or might it be that intelligence is something that is measured in far too academic a manner?

Somehow, we've conflated the idea of intelligence with a certain academic quality.

But academics don't necessarily (or at all) measure an ability to read people, inspire people and get things done.

The tech world is a fine example of this.

So many fine, academically brilliant engineers are creating hardware and software.

Yet, whom are they trying to please most of all? Why, themselves.

Ask anyone at Google how hard it is for some of its engineers to understand the lesser unwashed mortals of the world.

This academic engineery focus results in normal humans increasingly being prodded to behave in the rigidly rational manner that engineers adore.

Oh, wait. I almost forgot. They're making the world a better place.

Or at least they say they are.