wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)


American writer, pictured right with his cartoon strip character Dilbert (pictured right together) who takes a funny and satirical look at office life.


See also...

Scott Adams in the Management Gurus section.


Book summary


How to achieve business successScott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

Businesses should aim to enable employees to make great products as effectively as possible through:


1. The OA5 (out at 5) concept

Giving people a 5 pm deadline to finish their work, so they are happier and more efficient.


2. Continuous learning on the job

(through training and exchange of knowledge)


3. Firing troublemakers and assholes


4. Good marketing

Marketing’s aim is to create problems for customers and then solve them. Good advertising and dishonest salespeople will sell even bad products.Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

But managers are incompetent because of the Dilbert Principle:

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

So everyone is always trying to work out the idiotic things managers tell them to do.


How managers reduce employee effectiveness


1. HypocrisyScott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

Managers don’t practise their principles like:

  • quality.
  • customer satisfaction.
  • teamwork.
  • putting people first.


2. Using management consultants

Consultants’ only purpose is to:

  • take your money.
  • annoy people.

A management consultant is...

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


3. DownsizingScott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

The best employees leave before they’re fired, leaving behind the “B-team”.

Reengineering is ineffective, because its resulting redundancies are so demotivating.


4. Business plans

Relevant information is gathered to prepare a business plan which is then ignored.

 Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

5. Change management programmes

These fail because they disregard the views and needs of employees who fear and hate change.

The aim of change management is

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


6. Useless motivation initiatives

Their real aim is to humiliate people, so that their low self-esteem will stop them complaining.

 Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

7. Communication

Managers use communication and jargon to:

  • promote their careers.
  • replace useful action.



8. Poor teamworkScott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

Teamwork is bad because of:

  • conflicting aims.
  • poor time management.

Teamwork is “the opposite of good time management”.


9. Unnecessary re-organization

Managers are like cats in a litter box who shuffle things around to conceal what they’ve done.


10. Useless meetingsScott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

People act different roles:

  • Master of the Obvious.
  • Well-Intentioned Sadist.
  • Rambling Man (talking on unrelated topics).
  • Sleeper (quiet and occasional nodder).



Tips on career success

 Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

1. Make yourself look better than you are

  • choose sexy projects with no verifiable results.
  • make false sacrifices.
  • manipulate the media.
  • look busy and pretend to work (“Real work + Appearance of Work = Total Work”).
  • distance yourself from losers and mix with higher paid people.


2. Succeed at other people’s expense

  • give bad advice.
  • get others to do your own work and then take credit for it.
  • disparage co-workers (threaten retribution and use sarcasm).

 Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

 3. Bribe people

Get people to do things by offering them a big (but extremely unlikely) reward.


4. Never tell the truth

Never give your bosses honest opinions.

 Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle (1996)

5. Speak loudly until you get your way

  • criticize what’s unpopular.
  • swear a lot.

Swearing is the second most important success factor for women after what you know – the least important is what you do.


Key quote on budgeting

The budget process was invented by an alien race of sadistic beings who resemble large cats.


Key quotes on motivation

Employees like to feel that their contributions are being valued. That’s why managers try to avoid that sort of thing. With value comes self-esteem and with self-esteem comes unreason.

Keep your people fresh, happy and efficient. Set a target, then get out of the way...sometimes idiots can accomplish wonderful things.


Quote on selling

No problem is so great that it cannot be overcome by a salesperson who has the proper motivation.

Smart salespeople will choose... a life of deception and treachery.


Key quote on advertising

Good advertising can make people buy your product even if it sucks. That’s important because it takes the pressure off you to make great products.


Key quotes on marketing and customers

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

Thank goodness for the ignorance of your customers.


Key quote on change

People hate change.


Key quotes on management

The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do least damage – management. (the Dilbert Principle).

Happiness is realizing that we’re all idiots, struggling to work out the idiotic things managers tell us to do.


Key quotes on leadership

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

An intangible quality with no clear definition (definition of leadership).



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