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.
Scott Adams in the Management Gurus section.
How to achieve business success
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
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.
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 –
So everyone is always trying to work out the idiotic things managers tell them to do.
How managers reduce employee
Managers don’t practise their principles like:
2. Using management consultants
Consultants’ only purpose is to:
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”.
The best employees leave before they’re fired, leaving behind the “B-team”.
Reengineering is ineffective, because its resulting redundancies are so
4. Business plans
Relevant information is gathered to prepare a business plan which is then ignored.
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
Managers use communication and jargon to:
8. Poor teamwork
Teamwork is bad because of:
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
10. Useless meetings
People act different roles:
- Rambling Man (talking on unrelated topics).
- Sleeper (quiet and occasional nodder).
Tips on career success
1. Make yourself look better than you are
- choose sexy projects with no verifiable results.
- 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
- get others to do your own work and then take credit for it.
- disparage co-workers (threaten retribution and use sarcasm).
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.
5. Speak loudly until you get your way
- criticize what’s unpopular.
Swearing is the second most important success factor for women after what you know – the least important is what
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
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
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).