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 Wisdom to Win
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Dilbert - Work and ManagementDilbert - Work and Management


Dilbert (1989- )


The hero (pictured right)  of Scott Adams’  newspaper comic strip (first published in April 1989)

This led to several best sellers including The Dilbert Principle (1996).


Who are the key characters? 


Dilbert, an excellent engineer but cynical and socially backward.

Wally, Alice and Asok, his co-workers.

Pointy-Haired Boss, his uncaring boss.

Dogbert, his intellectual dog


Why is Dilbert a hero?


Dilbert - Work and Management

1. Bad management

Dilbert has to put up with managers (like the Pointy-Haired Boss, pictured right) who are:

  • incompetent and unethical
  • uncaring and sometimes sadistic
  • exploiting people for their own advantage (see point 2).

The Dilbert Principle states that

“The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management”.


2. Cynicism

Managers’ exploitation turns Dilbert into a cynic. They:

  • punish workers for their own mistakes. 
  • over-supervise them. 
  • communicate poorly
  • fail to reward success or penalize laziness.

Dilbert also hates management consultants, defined by Scott Adams as:

“a person who takes your money and annoys your employees while tirelessly searching for the best way to extend the consulting contract”.


3. Bloody buzzwords!

Management terms are used by managers to disguise their incompetence and exploitation.

Here is how Scott Adams defines some of them:


Mission statement 

“a long awkward sentence that demonstrates management’s inability to think clearly”.


Change management

Its aim is:

“to dupe slow-witted employees into thinking change is good for them by appealing to their sense of adventure and love of challenge”.



“the opposite of good time management”.



“an intangible quality with no clear definition”.

 Dilbert - Work and Management

Customers also aren’t king, because (says Scott Adams, pictured right with Dilbert) they’re:

  • ignorant and stupid.
  • easily manipulated by advertising and salespeople.


4. Small guy fights big business

People identify with Dilbert because, like him, they have to constantly battle against management’s incompetent hypocrisy.

A huge management lie, says Scott Adams, is that ‘employees are our most valuable asset’, because they are so badly treated.

So employees, like Dilbert:

  • are demoralized and demotivated
  • avoid real work by constantly complaining and appearing to be busy (e.g. by surfing the Internet).


Key quote on advertising (by Scott Adams)

Good advertising can make people buy your product even if it sucks.


Key quote on marketing (by Scott Adams)

We’re not screwing the customers. All we’re doing is holding them down while the salespeople screw them (the marketing professional’s motto).


Key quote on work (by Scott Adams)

Real Work + Appearance of Work = Total Work.


Key quote on change (by Scott Adams)

People hate change.


Key quotes on leadership (by Scott Adams)

Any good leader operates under the assumption that the people being led are astonishingly gullible.

The most important skill for any leader is the ability to take credit for things that happen on their own.


Key quote on business success (by Scott Adams)

Companies with effective employees and good products usually do well.

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