Question More – the Dunning-Kruger Effect


WHY? It’s every 4-year-old’s favorite question. To them, the whole world is new. They’re trying to make sense of it and they’re full of curiosity.

Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I hadn’t until the other day. The Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that people who are unskilled or uninformed in a given area tend to believe they are much more competent than they actually are. Driving is a perfect example.


dog driverI would describe myself as an excellent driver. I use my turn signal, I drive the speed limit, I don’t use my cell phone in the car, and the only time I’ve been pulled over was for an expired registration sticker, but I had the new one with me and just hadn’t had a chance to put it on yet.


But am I really a good driver? How would I know if I forgot to signal? How would I know if I cut someone off in traffic? I don’t know. And that’s the whole point of the Dunning-Kruger effect. My confidence in my own abilities might be blinding me to the fact that I am actually not so great.


With the Dunning-Kruger effect in mind, we should all embrace the child’s sense of wonder and QUESTION MORE! Here are 3 business-focused topics to get you started:


Why do we do [insert process here] this way? Is there a better, more efficient or more economical way to do it?

Pick a process, any process, and evaluate it critically. How you run payroll, how business decisions are made, what accounting software you use, how materials are purchased, how you communicate with customers, literally ANY PROCESS. You might come up with a different way of doing things that works better.

What’s it like to work for me?

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and try to surmise what kind of boss you are. Are you approachable, are you open to solving problems, are you reasonable, are you fair, are you attentive?


What’s it like for our customers to work with us?

Now put yourself in your clients’ shoes. What’s it like to do business with you? Do you respond to their needs? Are you attentive? Do you make eye contact? Are your email communications professional?


The Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that most of us are unaware of what impact we have, what things we do well, and what things need work. The key to avoiding repeated mistakes is to continually question and evaluate our actions and results.

Just for fun, here’s a link to the story I heard about the Dunning-Kruger effect (it starts at 33:30 minutes).

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