The Dilbert Principle

The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions by ScottAdams ISBN 0887308589

The Dilbert Principle is the observation that the most incompetent workers will be quickly promoted to the place they can do the least harm - Management.

The premise that "management" is incapable of doing harm is FundamentallyFlawed?.--ScottJohnson
1. A principle advocated by cartoonist ScottAdams, that states that "the incompetent are moved to where they can do the least harm--management".

2. A book by ScottAdams (containing #1 above), based on the DilbertComicStrip?, and full of some rather humorous (but scathing) commentary. ISBN 0887308589

TheDilbertPrinciple is clearly influenced by the PeterPrinciple, a best-selling book in the 1970s that claimed that everyone is promoted as long as they are competent, thus once someone stops being promoted, clearly they must now be incompetent in that job. And obviously that job is a management job. Therefore all managers are incompetent. TheDilbertPrinciple is a simplified version of that.

The principle I disagree strongly with. I don't disagree with the presence of incompetence in management; I disagree that they are placed there because there they can "do the least harm". Managers wield a great amount of power in an organization, and correspondingly bad managers can do an incredible amount of harm. (Conversely, good managers can have an incredible benefit; I don't want this to turn into yet another anti-management rant).

The book is an enjoyable read, but ScottAdams seems to be unsure throughout of whether he wants the book to be mere fluff (which it does quite well), or a serious treatise on management practices. It often takes steps towards the latter goal--making suggestions on how to improve workplace environments and better run technology companies--but then yet another wisecrack quickly deflates the seriousness of the discussion, leaving me feeling a bit cheated. Ha-ha. (Perhaps this serves me right for starting to take any of this seriously--after all, there is no academic rigor in the book whatsoever).

A proof of the Dilbert Principle:

Given: Substitute and solve for Money:
Money = Work/Knowledge

The limit of Money is infinity as Knowledge approaches zero.

The less you know the more you make, regardless of the work actually done.

That principle would be funnier if the proof wasn't so weak :-) Some billions people on earth know not very much (at least according to our western standards of knowledge) and they don't make very much too.

But, if you were to look at it from a different perspective you'll see that the statement holds true for all. If you had no knowledge of whats happening in this world, you live on an island filtered from any external influence of economy, then you have abundant resources (Money is considered abundant here). "All to yourself! Water, Food, Land...anything you need is provided for on the island."


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