Walk in Stupid Every Day

Dan Wieden is an advertising legend and co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy. His leadership style is unpacked on page 111 in the book Mavericks at Work. I find his words refreshing, and uncharacteristically humble for a leader of a huge (600+ staff) organization:

Wieden argues that his job is to "walk in stupid every day" -- to keep challenging the organization, and himself, to seek out unexpected ideas, outside influences, and new perspectives on old problems.

"It's the hardest thing to do as a leader" says Wieden, "but it's the most important thing. Whatever day it is, something in the world has changed overnight, and you better figure out what it is and what it means. You have to forget what you did and what you just learned. You have to walk in stupid every day."

It's hard to find an executive who doesn't appreciate the power of the experience curve--the idea that the more you do something...the more productive you become. Dan Wieden and his colleagues also appreciate the power of the inexperience curve--the idea that the more you do something, the more important it is to challenge the assumptions and habits that built your success so as to generate a wave of innovations to build the future.

Interpretation: Just because your church is growing, don't get cocky. Don't stop listening. Don't stop asking questions. Don't keep doing what you did yesterday just because it worked. Don't surround yourself with a bunch of people check their brains at the door. Don't ignore people who challenge your insecurities as a leader (yes, we all have them). Walk in stupid and you just might learn something.

Tim StevensComment