Since , Scott Adams has been illustrating this principle each day, lampooning the corporate world through Dilbert, his enormously popular. The Dilbert Principle book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. The creator of Dilbert, the fastest-growing comic strip in t. The Dilbert Principle from Dymocks online bookstore. A Cubicle'S-Eye View of Bosses, (ebook) Dilbert The Boom Scott Adams. $
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The creator of Dilbert, the fastest-growing comic strip in the nation, takes a look at corporate America in all its glorious ronaldweinland.info hilarious essays on. Editorial Reviews. ronaldweinland.info Review. You loved the comic strip; now read the business Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Business & Money. The best seller lists ignore all of the illegal ebook downloads, the free the Dilbert book with the highest sales was The Dilbert Principle, and.
Lavishly illustrated with Dilbert strips, these hilarious essays on incompetent bosses, management fads, bewildering technological changes and so much more, will make anyone who has ever worked in an office laugh out loud in recognition. The Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers will be systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage — management. Since , Scott Adams has been illustrating this principle each day, lampooning the corporate world through Dilbert, his enormously popular comic strip. In Dilbert, the potato-shaped, abuse-absorbing hero of the strip, Adams has given voice to the millions of Americans buffeted by the many adversities of the workplace. Now he takes the next step, attacking corporate culture head-on in this lighthearted series of essays. Packed with more than hilarious cartoons, these 25 chapters explore the zeitgeist of ever-changing management trends, overbearing egos, management incompetence, bottomless bureaucracies, petrifying performance reviews, three-hour meetings, the confusion of the information superhighway and more.
The Dilbert Principle Q: And that is? The basic concept of The Dilbert Principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: This, Scott Adams says, has not proved to be the winning strategy that you might think.
Then he spends the rest of the book detailing this out in hilarious fashion. It seems as if we've turned nature's rules upside down. We systematically identify and promote the people who have the least skills.
The usual business rationalization for promoting idiots the Dilbert Principle in a nutshell is something along the lines of "Well, he can't write code, he can't design a network, and he doesn't have any sales skill.
But he has very good hair What is Business Communication? Any business school professor will tell you that the objective of business communication is the clear transfer of information. That's why professors rarely succeed in business. The real objective of business communication is to advance your career. That objective is generally at odds with the notion of "clear transfer of information.
What is a Mission Statement? It is defined as "a long awkward sentence that demonstrates management's inability to think clearly. The formulation of Mission and Vision statement cannot proceed without learning Jargon. So what is "Jargon"? Jargon Illustrated: For example, a manager would never say, "I used my fork to eat a potato. How useful is 'Team Work'? Stephen King writes very scary books.
Shakespeare wrote several excellent plays. Unfortunately, they worked alone. That's the theory behind "group writing," and it's hard to find fault with the logic. What lies do management tell me? This lie is appreciated by the employees. Unfortunately only one company in each industry can have the best employees. And you might be suspicious about the fact that your company pays the lowest salaries. Is it possible that there's a strange mental condition that makes some people brilliant at their jobs, yet unable to compare two salary numbers and determine which one is higher?
Let's call these people "Occupational Savants. Adams assures us that this chapter contains many surefire tips for gaining wealth and personal power at the expense of people who are studying how to be team players. Naturally I have withheld my most effective tips so that I can crush you later if it's absolutely necessary, or if it just looks like fun. But what you find here should still be enough to brush aside the kindhearted dolts that litter your path to success.
But, for the sake of clarity, a few more tips: How to appear smart? Don't waste your time actually reading the Wall Street Journal. Many people subscribe to it, but nobody actually reads it. It's easier just to say, "Hey, did you see that article in the Journal yesterday?
If the other person says yes, he's bluffing too, so you can both give a hearty laugh about the insights of the article and leave it at that. II the other person indicates he did not read the article, give a condescending look and mutter, "It figures" before changing the subject. Don't make the mistake of criticizing your co-workers to their faces. That will tip your hand and invite retaliation. The only constructive criticism is the kind you do behind people's backs.
Should I go for Form over Substance? The earth is populated by shallow and ignorant people. That's why form will always be more important than substance. You can waste your time complaining about how that should not be the case in a perfect world, or you can snap out of it and follow my advice.
Never walk down the hall without a document in your hands. People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they're heading for the cafeteria.
People with the newspaper in their hands look like they're heading for the bathroom.
Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do. How to choose your projects? The worth of any project is based on how it will sound on your resume.
Don't get caught up in the propaganda about how important something is for the stockholders. The stockholders are people you'll never meet. And since most projects fail or turn into something you never intended, the only lasting impact of your work is the impact on your resume.
Keep your priorities straight. What to do about Performance Reviews? Keep this in mind: How to get by in a workplace with minimum work? Employee Strategies such as 'Telecommuting': The office is designed for "work," not productivity.
Work can be defined as "anything you'd rather not be doing.
Telecommuting substitutes two hours of productivity for ten hours of work. If you feel generous and slam out two hours of productivity, it's more than you would have done in the office, so you can feel good about it.
Should I be a constant Learner? Consider this hypothetical situation: You're having a conversation with Albert Einstein and he suddenly gets struck by lightning. This freak accident makes him instantly twice as smart. Could you tell the difference? Once a person is smarter than you, it doesn't matter if he's one percent smarter or one thousand percent smarter.
You can't tell the difference. Don't waste your time acquiring a bunch of knowledge that will do nothing to elevate your perceived value. How to get your way in Meetings? The Final Suggestion Maneuver: Let everybody else make moronic suggestions.
Stay uninvolved while the participants shred each other's suggestions like crisp cabbage in a Cuisinart. Watch as they develop intense personal dislikes that will last their entire careers. Toward the end of the allotted meeting time, when patience is thin and bladders are full, offer your suggestion. Describe it as a logical result of the good thoughts you've heard at the meeting, no matter how ridiculous that might be. Marketing Scott: I can speak with some authority on the subject of marketing because I once took a marketing class.
Moreover, I have downloadd many items. The Hidden Secret of Marketing: The most important market segment is known as the "Stupid Rich," so named because of their tendency to download anything that's new regardless of the cost or usefulness.
If you can sell enough units to the Stupid Rich, your production costs per unit will decrease. Then you can lower your prices and sell to the Stupid Poor—that's where the real volume is. Are Focus Groups useful? Focus Groups are people who are selected on the basis of their inexplicable free time and their common love of free sandwiches.
They are put in a room and led through a series of questions by a trained moderator. For many of these people it will be the first time they've ever been fed and listened to in the same day.
This can cause some strange behavior. They will begin to complain vehemently about things that never really bothered them before. Then they will suggest product features that they would never download. Consultants will hold a seemingly endless series of meetings to test various hypotheses and assumptions. These exercises are a vital step toward tricking managers into revealing the recommendation that is most likely to generate repeat consulting business.
The consultants begin working like crazed beavers in a coffee lake. Reams of paper will disappear. You'll actually be able to hear the screams of old-growth forests dying as the consultants churn out page after page of backup charts and assumptions.
The analysis will be cleverly designed to be as confusing as possible, thus discouraging any second- guessing by sniping staff members who are afraid of appearing dense. Consultants will ultimately recommend that you do whatever you're not doing now. Centralize whatever is decentralized. Flatten whatever is vertical.
Diversify whatever is concentrated and divest everything that is not "core" to the business. You'll hardly ever find a consultant who recommends that you keep everything the same and stop wasting money on consultants. And consultants will rarely deal with the root cause of your company's problems, since that's probably the person who hired them.
Instead, they'll look for ways to improve the "strategy" and the "process. First, assume that any positive trends will continue forever and any negative trends will turn around soon. Then run the numbers through a computer spreadsheet. The result is the future. Later, if you turn out to be wrong, blame it on the global economy.
It is never a good idea to be constrained by reality when you craft your assumptions for the business case. Reality is very unpopular and it is not fun to read. What are 'Engineers'? But I spent ten years working with engineers and programmers in a variety of jobs. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.
Why are most projects 'impossible' for them? A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing.
The best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain. If that approach is not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: Instead of five non-value-added people we had four, then three, then eventually only me.
I let everybody know that I was "doing the work of five people.
Eventually I left the job. For the past thirteen years, zero people have been doing the work of five people but there were no complaints. This was a fairly clear indication that downsizing had a future. Turns out that he does! What is the most widely read ebook in the world? Interestingly, no one knows the answer to that question. In other words, no one has any way to determine which ebook has been the most widely read in the world. In the future, book best seller lists could become meaningless because the numbers will be too unreliable.
A good guess is that The Bible is the most widely read ebook in the world, and The Book of Mormon is second. Things get tricky when you try to figure out who comes in third. Ten thousand ebook sales would have been considered a blockbuster.
That's what you're getting paid to do, dammit. But if you're not a secretary, you might be enjoying the luxury of arm- rests. Those armrests are essential for balance if you plan to nap in your cubicle. During my career at Pacific Bell I spent many blissful hours sound asleep in my cubicle, thanks to armrests. I always located my com- puter so my back faced the aisle when I looked at the screen.
That way I could pull up a document, balance my arms on the armrests, close my eyes, and drift into Sugarland, all while looking like a dedicated employee.
Sometimes the phone would ring, but 1 learned to screen it out. The brain is an amazing thing! My furniture did its job, providing just the right level of humility to maintain my fever- pitch of productivity- E-mail F r o m t h e Cubicle T r e n c h e s As you can see from these examples, money is no object compared to the importance of keeping the employees in their proper place.
Big problem, but we have a solution. We've erected five-foot-high partition walls in front of the windows, so that non- managers can sit there without offending the pecking order. Someone I know works at a government agency—they recently reorganized people in the Engineering Department and a lowly non- management type was put into the corner space of the work areas. Since the space had walls put up a year ago to accommodate a man- ager, they are actually hiring contractors to come in and have the walls taken out for the lowly nonmanager!
Around the same time, I was fortunate to be promoted to a new job. As with all large companies, the allotment of cubicle and office space is associated with grade level for example, if you are grade X, you get a sixty-four-square-foot cubicle; if you are grade Y, you get a one-hundred-square-foot office. Finally, after a few diligent years of corporate service, my grade level afforded me an office.
This is all well and good; however, my grade level did not specify nice, wooden office furniture. I still have many levels yet to go. Therefore, in an effort to reuse cubicles from the previous facility, the real estate arm of my company installed a cubicle within my office. Imagine for the moment how ridiculous this looks. Now, the funny part is that the office I occupy has a window; how- ever, it is completely blocked by the cubicle wall. That would be the official uniform at your com- pany too if not for the fact it would be considered a "uniform" and there's no budget for that sort of thing.
Companies have discovered a low-cost method for making people dress in the same humiliating fashion as the monkey but without the expense of downloading uniforms. The secret is to specify a style of acceptable dress that has the same symbolism as the monkey's outfit but allows some variety: Recognition programs help identify which social caste the employees belong to.
This is a motivating factor for lower-level employees. They know that if they work hard they have a chance of reaching a level of management where "recognition" programs don't exist. As I approached the front of the room to accept my award it became apparent that the execu- tive running the program didn't know what I did for a living. Thinking quickly, he invented an entirely fictitious project for the benefit of the audience and thanked me for my valuable contribution to its success.
I felt "happier" after that, but my self-esteem didn't increase enough for me to think it was a good time to ask for a raise. Morale-wise, this was a home run for the company. I was so motivated that I gave serious thought to working right through my siesta that afternoon.
Another employee, dressed in a rabbit suit I swear I am not making this up would visit the chosen employees cubicle bearing balloons, a coffee mug, and a certificate of merit. This would presumably encourage us to work harder. The plan was killed thank God because nobody would agree to be the bunny. That's why managers try to avoid that sort of thing. With value comes self- esteem, and with self-esteem comes unreasonable requests for money.
There are many ways to tell employees that their work is not valued. Here are some of the crueler methods, which incidentally work the best: This sends a message that the employee has no human presence. It is similar to chang- ing clothes in front of the family pet; the animal is watching but it couldn't possibly matter. This tool of humiliation can be fine-tuned to any level simply by adjust- ing what activities are performed while the employee waits. That's why professors rarely succeed in business.
The real objective of business communication is to advance your career. That objective is generally at odds with the notion of "clear transfer of information.
Clear communication can only Remember, you can't be wrong unless you take a posi- tion. Don't fall into that trap. A Mission Statement is defined as "a long awkward sentence that demon- strates management's inability to think clearly. Companies that don't have Mission Statements will often be under the mistaken impression that the objective of the company is to bicker among departments, produce low-quality products, and slowly go out of business.
That misperception can be easily cured by writing a Mission Statement such as this: M i s s i o n "We will produce the highest quality products, using empowered team dynamics in a new Total Quality paradigm until we become the industry leader.
The company Mission Statement will be meaningless until all the individual departments write their own Mission Statements to support the company's overall mission. That can be a bit harder because most departments have a variety of distinct functions and you wouldn't want to leave any of them out. So you might end up with individual Mission Statements that look like this: M i s s i o n "Perform world-class product development, financial analysis, and fleet services using empowered team dynamics in a Total Quality paradigm until we become the industry leader.
B u s i n e s s C o m m u n i c a t i o n on 3 7 Individually, the Mission Statement of the company and the Mission Statement of the department might mean nothing. But taken together you can see how they would inspire employees to greater heights. In stark con- trast to the detailed road map provided by a Mission Statement, a Vision Statement is more of a "high-level" guide for the company.
The higher the better, because you want a vision that will last the ages. The debate over the definition of "vision" will end as soon as the partici- pants become too tired and cranky to enjoy belittling each others intelli- gence.
At that point somebody will start suggesting various visions just to get the meeting over with. All good Vision Statements are created by groups of people with bloated bladders who would rather be doing anything else.
You know you've got a rockin' Vision Statement when it inspires the employees to think of themselves as being involved in something much more important than their pathetic little underpaid jobs, when they feel part of a much larger plan—something that can shape the society they live in.
Here are examples of successful Vision Statements: E x a m p l e 1 "We will have all the wealth in the world while everybody else dies in the gutter wishing they were us. You can do this by using empty but important-sounding words like "excellence" and "technology" and "dis- trict" in your name. Your name should be vague enough to legitimately claim responsibility for anything that looks like it might be a success.
If the CEO suddenly develops a hot interest in multimedia, you can swoop in and say, "That sounds like a job for the 'Excellence in Technology District'—because it requires technology and excellence. Then after six months, when the winds change, or you get a new CEO, and you've steered the project onto a sandbar, you can say, "Our work is done.
Colloquially, "Throw that dead cat into somebody else's backyard. Luckily there is no shortage of empty but important-sounding words to choose from. Depending your area of expertise, you can generate new names for your group by randomly com- bining words from this handy list: This is accomplished by substituting incomprehensible jargon for common words. But if you're clever, you can sometimes read between the lines and understand the true meaning, as in this example: The solution is motivational talks.
Gather your team together and put the "fire in their bellies" with your own brand of inspirational oratory. It's not important that your words carry any specific useful information. As I've already explained, information can never lead to anything good. The goal is to elevate the employees to a competitive frenzy, and for that you need not transfer any information. Here are some phrases that have been known to inspire troops through the ages: Work should be its own reward.
Actually, we'll probably have more layoffs anyway. It's business as usual. The purpose of a presentation is to transfer resources away from accom- plishing objectives and concentrate them on explaining how well you're doing. Shakespeare wrote several excellent plays.
Unfortunately, they worked alone. That's the theory behind "group writing," and it's hard to find fault with the logic. You've heard the saying that if you put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters and waited long enough, eventually you would have a room full of dead monkeys. It's a good idea to feed monkeys. Group writing is a lot like a room full of dead monkeys, except not as "fun. Either way, you have to admire his spunk.
This can be problematic if all the participants have different objectives. You can minimize the impact of different objectives by focusing on the goals that all parties can agree on: Don't convey any information whatsoever.
See number one. The best of all worlds is to be asked to comment on the writing of a co- worker. You get to savor the experience of shredding another person's ego while taking no personal risk. It can be very satisfying. For fun, suggest changes that would completely reverse the message intended by the author.
This puts the author in the awkward position of having to reroute the document for further unhelpful comments or choos- ing to ignore your "upgrades. Your activity will look just like "work" even though it's easy and it requires no personal risk.
And on the off chance that the document you ridiculed becomes successful you can claim it as part of your accomplishments. We were going to be installing an automated system and I said that even though we had accomplished a lot the past year we couldn't stand pat during the coming year. A day after the memo was handed out, a woman asked to see me and then, after breaking down into tears, asked what did I have against a co-worker of hers, a woman whose first name was Patricia.
It seems Patricia was herself very upset and crying in the ladies' room because the both of them couldn't understand for the life of them why I couldn't "stand pat. I just got them today. I think mine are better. No joke, this is real. When determining the attainment stage, please use following cri- teria: Clarifications listed in the attachment called [a filename] apply.
B u s i n e s s C o m m u n i c a t i o n on 4 9 2 The solutions to the gaps will be developed and implemented as indicated in attachment marked [a filename]. So he formed a committee. Guess what the committee did. Right—it split into groups and drafted all faculty to be part of those various groups. We formed "teams" which were supposed to "determine our core competency" and find a way to "satisfy our customers" in the context of "continu- ous improvement" preferably on half of the current budget.
The result was predictable. Some of us resented the waste of our time, some of us used witty, yet biting sarcasm, and some actually thought it was a great opportunity to "get to know each other better.
This is a very special moment. We all got a note from the dean that essentially said, "You didn't read my mind and got the wrong answer! I do this as a service to the business commu- nity. Now when you're telling a story about the treachery of your managers you can simply refer to each lie by its number, for example, "She told us number six and we all went back to our cubicles and laughed.
When confronted with an ambiguous sit- uation you can usually sniff out the truth by using a handy method that I call the "What Is More Likely" test. Here's how it works: State each of the plausible interpretations of reality using humorous metaphors when possible , then ask yourself this question: Allow me to demonstrate its usefulness on the Great Lies of Management. How can this apparent contradiction be explained? Let's say your boss has a broken desk chair and there's no money left in the budget to replace it.
Is it more likely that your boss would: Sit on the floor until the next budget cycle. Use a nonmanagement chair despite the lower status it confers on the sitter. Postpone filling a job opening in the group, distribute the extra work to the "most valuable assets," and use the savings to download a proper chair. As employees we like to think we're more valuable than the office furni- ture. But the "What Is More Likely" test indicates that it's not the case.
Realistically we're someplace toward the lower end of the office supply hierarchy. I used to take great pride in opening a new box of staples and informing them that they worked for me and I was their undisputed ruler.
But even- tually I had to stop naming them individually because it was such an emo- tional roller coaster when one went crooked. This may be off the point but if anybody sees Walter, tell him I miss him.
Your boss genuinely wants a never-ending trail of Bozos to walk into her office and complain about things that can't be fixed. Her long-term goal is to be distracted from her real responsibilities, fail in her job, and eventually become homeless.
She knows she can intimidate people into avoiding her office by scowling and assigning work to the first ten people who try it. That way she gets the benefit of sounding "open" without any of the costs. Are raises so rare these days that your com- pany actually forgot about that option? Or is it more likely that the new compensation system is a complicated maneuver to disguise the fact that from now on your health benefits will be administered by the Christian Scientists?
And is it likely that the main reason your cus- tomers hate you is that your organization chart is suboptimal? Or is it more likely that your management has no clue how to fix your fundamental problems and they think that rearranging the existing supply of nitwits will look like progress?
And if he can see the future, is it likely that he prefers to waste this ability in his current job ver- sus using his powers to cure cancer and make a few bucks in the process? Or is it more likely that the future isn't much brighter than your boss?
So do morons. In practice it s difficult to sort them out. Is it likely that your manager will begin rewarding people who have failed, knowing that a good portion of them are morons and every one of them has caused the boss to receive at least one executive-induced wedgie?
Or is it more likely that people who fail will be assigned to Quality Teams while the people who succeed will leave the company faster than a cheetah leaves a salad bar?
B o n u s Q u e s t i o n If the successful people leave, will they make more money or less money at another company? What were we thinking? Lets distribute more money to the employees! Or is it more likely you'll be put through a tortuous Performance Review process that would result in approximately the same tiny raise whether you were Mother Teresa or the Unabomber? Or is it more likely that these Satan-spawned, coffee-torqued managers will continue to extract revenge on any target that is dumb enough to stand still?
It helps to add a little "attitude" to some of these questions to increase the contrast. Is it more likely your manager will leave your high-priority training budget intact and save money by delaying the launch of your product instead, thus reducing his own raise and bonus? Or is it more likely that the training budget will disappear faster than the hors d'oeuvres at a Richard Simmons Sweatin'to the Oldies reunion.
F r o m E-mail. A survey determined that employees required more training. At the same time, training budgets were slashed drastically. Or is it more likely that your manager knows the news is so bad that the slightest whiff of the truth will make the employees less productive than a truckload of Chihuahuas? But just maybe I've done exhaustive studies of Chihuahua work- habits and discovered that a truckload of Chihuahuas is the least productive organizational size. When your man- ager promises to review your performance in six months for a possible raise, what is more likely?
Your manager believes that you could become smarter and more productive in days, thus earning such a large increase in salary that you'll be glad you waited. Your manager expects he will be in a new job within six months and your chances of getting a raise are deader than a Fishstick at a cat festival. Unfortunately only one company in each industry can have the best employees. And you might be suspi- cious about the fact that your company pays the lowest salaries.
Is it likely that the "best" employees would be drawn to your company despite the lower-than-average pay?
Is it possible that there's a strange mental condition that makes some people brilliant at their jobs, yet unable to compare two salary numbers and determine which one is higher? Let's call these people "Occupational Savants. G r e a t Lies o f M a n a g e m e n t 6 1 And is it likely that the people you work with all day appear to be denser than titanium, yet in reality are the most skilled professionals in their field?
Or is it more likely that the Nobel Prize-winning economists of the world are right—the market system works—and your company has exactly the doltish quality of employees that it's willing to pay for?
Nor can the work be delegated, since no manager wants a subordinate to talk to his superior and maybe say embarrassing things. Most employee suggestions are either clueless or sadistic. Once in a great while a good idea slips through, but a good idea is indistinguishable from a bad one unless you're the person who thought of it. It's never entirely clear in advance when employee input will be a good thing. So managers have to treat all input as bad. Here's the test to see if managers really want employee input: Is it likely that your boss enjoys the extra work involved in pursuing the well-meaning, sagelike suggestions of your gifted colleagues?
Or is it more likely your boss will pretend to listen to your thoroughly impractical suggestions, thank you for the input, do exactly what he planned all along, and then ask you to chair the United Way campaign as punishment? See how easy this is?
Naturally I have withheld my most effective tips so that I can crush you later if it's absolutely necessary, or if it just looks like fun.
But what you find here should still be enough to brush aside the kindhearted dolts that litter your path to success. Use these techniques sparingly, at least until you've gained total power over the simpletons around you.
If you use all these techniques at once M a c h i a v e l l i a n M e t h o d s 6 3 you'll probably scare the neighboring cubicle dwellers into thinking you're a witch. They might form an unruly mob, storm your office, and kill your sec- retary. This would be a tragedy, especially if you need some copies made. This is your chance to steer them off the corporate speedway and—if you're skillful—help them plow into a crowd of innocent spectators.
It's not always easy to give advice. For one thing, your tail might wag uncontrollably, thus signaling your impending treachery. Moreover, your advice has to sound plausible, no matter how destructive and self-serving it really is. The best way to give bad advice that still sounds well-meaning is to "take the high road. You should "take the high road. This will simultaneously open your boss's job for you while most likely eliminating your co-worker from com- petition, all in the name of what is "right.
Your co-workers might be sufficiently moronic to accept plain old bad advice without questioning it, as in these examples: Never eat lunch with a person of lower salary.
If you get tricked into dining with a person of lower salary you can sal- vage the situation by spreading a rumor that the person is terminally ill. This is not technically lying, since we're all going to die eventually.
If any- body spots you together, hold your napkin over your mouth like a surgical mask whenever the low-ranking person speaks to you. Ideally, you want to dupe higher salaried people into being seen at a meal with you.
They will try every trick to avoid you, so you must be nim- ble and devious. For example, you could schedule a department lunch and not bother to invite the other people in the department. Or, if you possess vital information that is needed by the higher-paid person, take the knowl- edge hostage and demand lunch as your ransom.
This information should seem impor- tant, but not critically important. In other words, your co-workers should want the information you're withholding, but not so badly that they'll choke you to death when you prevent them from getting it. M a c h i a v e l l i a n M e t h o d s 6 7 Form a multilayered protective defense for your strategically withheld information.
With the right mixture of attitude and complete psychopathic behavior you can withhold just about anything. Here's how. L a y e r O n e Insist that you don't have the information and act like the requesters are insane for expecting that you do.
Repeat their request aloud as if to under- score the fact that what they're asking for makes no sense. Grill them mer- cilessly as to why on God's green earth they would ever think you had this information. If they present a convincing case that they know you have the information, smile and act like the problem was in the way they asked the question.
Go to layer two. L a y e r Two Say you're too busy to explain all the information to the requesters. Remind them that it took you years to understand it all. Ask them to leave you an easily ignored voice mail to schedule a time when you can sort through it together. That's because you "want to help. L a y e r T h r e e Insist that the information is not ready yet—either because you're wait- ing for somebody else's input or because you need to "massage" the num- bers to remove all the misleading data.
If the requesters insist on settling for last month's information—or even misleading information—proceed to layer four. L a y e r Four Exhibit an exceptionally bad personality. Be rude, negative, and conde- scending. This layer is not a defense in itself , but it makes the requesters more vulnerable to the next layers of defense. By the time they get back to their offices and discover they've been duped they might be discouraged. If you did a convincing job with the layer four bad-personality step, there's a good chance the requesters will give up on you altogether and leave you safe and happy.
D a m a g e C o n t r o l If the requesters leave your cubicle with any sort of information whatso- ever, complain to anybody who will listen that the information is faulty because the requesters either didn't understand the information or misin- terpreted it. If you're clever, you can neutralize any blunder through a series of offsetting destructive acts, as in this example: For some reason, retribution has become a dirty little word in business.
But only the word itself is a problem; the practice of retribution is as popular as ever. Use it whenever you get the chance. While an actual act of retribution can be fun and deeply fulfilling, it's the threat of retribution that has the most potential to help your career. For the threat to be taken seriously you must have actual or potential power to carry out your retribution. If you're at a low level in the organiza- tion you must create the impression that you're likely to be promoted or you're likely to be having an affair with somebody in power.
If you're ugly All your threats of retribution will seem hollow unless you can demon- strate your ability to detect those transgressions that merit retribution even when they occur beyond your presence. One way to appear all-know- ing is to build a reliable network of spies in the organization. Many people subscribe to it, but nobody actually reads it. It's easier just to say, "I ley, did you see that article in the Journal yester- day?