~ Quotes by Scott
~ Other Dilbert Works
~ Dilbert Definitions
~ Dilbert's School of Thoughts
~ Dilbert: The TV Series
~ Build A Better Life By Stealing Office Supplies
~ Dilbert And The Way Of The Weasel
~ The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's Eye View
# SCOTT ADAMS QUOTES
Well, actually there
are kind of two reasons, depending on who asks. You know, when the Girl
Scouts asked me, as they actually did, I told them it was a metaphor for
his inability to control his environment. For you guys, I'd just say he's
glad to see you.
- Scott Adams, on why Dilbert's necktie turns upwards
As a fan, I'm distraught,
but as a cartoonist looking at new vacant spaces in 2,400 newspapers, well,
behind me, my cats are dancing a conga line.
- on the ending of competing strip Calvin & Hobbes
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?
Highly intelligent and well-informed people disagree on every political issue. Therefore, intelligence and knowledge are useless for making decisions, because if any of that stuff helped, then all the smart people would have the same opinions. So use your "gut instinct" to make voting choices. That is exactly like being clueless, but with the added advantage that you'll feel as if your random vote preserved democracy.
Nothing inspires forgiveness quite like revenge.
Ask a deeply religious Christian if hed rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists dont seem so bad lately.
# OTHER DILBERT WORKS
A fully-occupied cubicle
is 70 percent air. Most of the unused airspace will be driven out of the
design of future work areas. I see the workstation of the future looking
like a high-tech hairdresser's chair. You'll have your computer built into
the base of the chair and the keyboard swinging into your lap from the
- from The Dilbert Future
Scientists will eventualy
stop flailing around with solar power and focus their efforts on harnessing
the only truly unlimited source of energy on the planet: stupidity. I predict
that energy companies will place huge hamster wheels outside of convenience
stores and offer free lottery tickets to people who spend five minutes
running in them. The hamster wheels will be connected to power generators.
- The Dilbert Future
If you think about
it, human beings are the worst possible creatures to have access to powerful
technology. It would be much better for everyone if, for example, fish
were the ones with all the technology. They wouldn't be able to push the
buttons with their little fins. No humans would get hurt, and the fish
would be able to brag about their great stuff until eventually it all turned
into protective barrier reefs.
- The Dilbert Future
No one will believe
you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months.
Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to
- Entry in a 'Dilbert' Quotes Contest
"So, Mr. Moriarty,
can you tell us why you decided to leave the company?"
"The new security surveillance system is cutting into the profits of my stationary supply business."
- An Exit Interview (from a Dilbert List)
# DILBERT DEFINITIONS
Blamestorming Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.
Seagull Manager A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps over everything and then leaves.
Prairie Dogging When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and peoples heads pop up over the walls to see whats going on.
Stress Puppy A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
CLM (Career Limiting Move) Used among microserfs to describe ill-advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.
Flight Risk Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave the company or department soon.
Generica - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions. Used as in - "We were so lost in generica that I forgot what city we were in."
Ohno-second That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that youve just made a BIG mistake.
Umfriend A sexual relation of dubious standing, or a concealed intimate relationship, as in "This is Dyan, my ... um ... friend."
Alpha Geek The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group.
# DILBERT'S SCHOOL OF THOUGHTS
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.
Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.
My reality check bounced.
I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.
I love deadlines. I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.
I can please only one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either.
Am I getting smart with you? How would you know?
There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable application of high explosives.
How about never? Is never good for you?
The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.
If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.
# DILBERT: THE TV SERIES
Next up is a program
on evolution in which we implicitly mock opposing viewpoints.
- TV Narrator
Height: Varies depending
on my speed relative to the observer.
Weight: Sensation caused by gravitational warping of space-time.
- Dogbert answers a NASA questionnaire
"I got to got me one
of these space shuttles."
- Dogbert, enjoying the NASA program
"I tell you Bob you're
like a celebrity around here. Grotesque and evil, yet famous and surprisingly
polite. Do you golf?"
- The Boss to Bob B'stard
"He's like a wounded
bird. A vulture, but that's still a bird."
- Alice, describing Bob
"I've got goosebumps!
Or some other strange growth..."
- The Boss, excited about the Gruntmaster 6000 testing
"Just out of curiosity,
how often does an asteroid crash into an exercise machine?"
- Dilbert has his doubts about Bob's rigorous test process
"Bob, you're like a
son to me."
"You don't have a son."
"That's where I'm headed here."
- The Boss
"As you probably know,
all the good product names have been trademarked by companies who are competent."
"Competent? How are we going to compete with that?"
- Dogbert and Wally
Idiots shouldn't have money."
"Who died and made
you the Dalai Lama?"
"You do whatever you
want. Me I'm cashing out."
"You plan to retire?"
"Retire? From what? I don't do anything now except surf the net why should I pay for that? Besides, I really like the coffee here."
- Wally and Dilbert
"It is my duty... nay,
my privilege... nay, just a guilty pleasure to inform you that you are
wearing women's clothing."
- Wally, as Dilbert tries a new look at the company softball game
"There are no attractive
women in engineering."
"What are you talking about? Look at me!"
"I can no longer see your physical beauty Alice. It's...ah... overwhelmed by your professional competence."
- Wally and Alice
"I think she really
"Like is such a strong word."
- Dilbert and Dogbert, discussing Juliet
"You can't put babies
to work on an assembly line!"
"These are not babies. They are toddlers."
- Alice in Elbonia
Chronic Cubicle Syndrome:
If You Think You've Got It, You've Got It.
- The name of Dobgert's latest book
"This is gonna be great."
"What are you talking about? It's gonna be like living under martial law in some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare."
"Exactly. Do you know how desperate women get under martial law in some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare?"
"I guess I haven't studied it as extensively as you."
"You got that right."
- Wally and Dilbert
"Fame is more important
"Are you saying I'm more employable as a famous screw-up than as a competent nobody?"
- Dogbert and Dilbert, after his disastrous time at Nirvana Corp
"Please return to your
normal state of semi-comatose clockwatching."
- The Boss, with some good news for the staff
[From The Y2K Episode]
"Which is better, Paris or Rome? ...Which is better, Prague or Budapest?"
"Why does it matter which is better? What're you doing?"
"I have to RSVP to my millennium parties."
- Dogbert and Dilbert
"I never liked New
Year's Eve anyway. And this one's no different. I will not be pressured
into having fun just because we arbitrarily use a base Ten counting system
and a big round number is coming up."
"Except that everyone
on earth will be celebrating the end of the millennium. Well... everyone
"I'm planning to link
up with my survivalist militia group and loot a National Guard ammunitions
"Do you know something I don't?"
"Hello? The millennium bug? ...the world will plunge into chaos. I don't want to be outgunned."
- Dilbert and Alice
"We figured it would
save money in the short run and only later plunge the company into darkness
after we executives had all left for other companies."
"But you're still here."
- The Boss, explaining to Dilbert why the mainframe wasn't replaced
"Is there any way this
'collapse of civilization' thing could affect me, personally?"
- The Boss
"You know the rules:
he who complains is assigned to fix it."
- Alice, after Dilbert is assigned to fix the Y2K bug
"I'm applying for every
credit card I can get my hands on. Then I'll take huge cash advances and
wait for the millennium bug to hose the banks' computers. They'll never
be able to bill me."
"You would have made a great evil mastermind."
"Nah, the hours are too long."
- Wally and Dilbert
"Note to self: Get
smarter troll to guard door."
- Catbert, after the gang get past his security
"I can't help."
"It's a company policy."
"Aren't you the one who makes the company policies?"
"Do I have a great job or what?"
- Catbert, Evil HR head
"You need more time.
But that's only because you spend so much time with your hair and makeup
in the morning."
"That's a necessity."
"Only in your mind."
"You mean I'm beautiful just the way I am?"
"No. I mean it's a lost cause."
- Catbert, helping Alice to manage her time better
"Recent court rulings
have proven false memory is just as good as the real thing. Maybe better."
- Catbert, about to hypnotise Wally
"I don't usually do
"Be helpful... But I do have a list of employees who have recently been terminated. They're still on the payroll for two more weeks."
- Catbert, coming around
"Let's give up now
and form an agrarian society!"
- Loud Howard, in despair
"So our futures depend
"That's it, we're all farmers."
- Asok and Loud Howard
BUILD A BETTER LIFE BY STEALING OFFICE SUPPLIES
Companies that are
profitable are usually in the right place at the right time, and that's
all there is to it. Those companies could be managed by gerbils and they
would still make money hand over paw. Sure, in the beginning somebody invented
something valuable, or stole it from somebody else, but since then it's
been strictly auto-pilot. So forget about making the company more profitable,
it's out of your control. Put your energy where it will make the most difference:
suriving your frustrating and thankless job.
- Dogbert's Introduction to his "Big Book of Business"
* Stealing Office Supplies Most companies consider the theft of office supplies an unspoken company benefit. That's how people with your salary can afford nice things.
* Unwatched Pens Legal ownership of your pen ends when you take your eyes off of it. Your co-workers are waiting for any opportunity to make it their own.
* Dogbert's Laughter Guide The amount of energy spent laughing at a joke should be directly proportional to the hierarchial status of the joke.
* Office Politics Your boss reached his/her position by being politically astute. Don't turn your back. Corollary: To be a successful manager, you must learn to be insensitive to the needs of your employees.
* Group Writing Few things in less efficient than a group of people trying to write a sentence. The advantage of this method is that you end up with something for which you will not be personally blamed.
* Knowing The Enemy Before you can defeat the competition, first you must defect your own company.
"This is the project
plan. We'll ignore our Legal department... Bypass the Accounting department...
Instigate a fight between Marketing and Operations... and pray nobody notices
* The Answer Depends on the Asker Never answer a question unless you know exactly who is asking, why it is being asked, and what will be done with the information.
* Management By Shaking The Box What may seem like random management changes is actually a clever strategy to reduce salary costs by making you so stressed that you quit.
* The Benefits of Title Inflation Inflated job titles in middle management allow those at the bottom of the company hierarchy to avoid truly demeaning titles. Corollary: What you do is not nearly as impressive as what your job titles implies you do.
* How to Make Your Boring Job Sound Dangerous Even the most mundane business activities can sound glorious if you describe them in angry and violent terms. But remember to speak metaphorically, or it will sound sound silly : eg 'I've been putting out fires all day', or 'It's a bomb waiting to go off'.
* Dogbert's Theory of Mondays Mondays are not part of the productive work week.
* Suffering Fools As you suspected, all of your co-workers are fools. You must learn to pity and tolerate them.
* Dating Coworkers The world is full of attractive people whom you will never meet. Your only hope for romance is to lower your standards until co-workers look good.
* Understanding Accounting People People who work in accounting departments often work 12 hour days creating reports that nobody cares about. This gives them a very bad attitude. Do not attempt humor around them.
* Understanding Marketing People People enter the marketing profession after they realize that they have grown up without any particular skills.
* Understanding Technical People Technical people respond to questions in three ways : It is technically impossible (meaning: I don't feel like doing it); It depends (meaning: abandon all hope of a useful answer); The data bits are flexed through a collectimizer which strips the flow-gate arrays into virtual message elements (meaning: I don't know).
* Perks: Business Lunches When using the company's money to pay for a meal, it is expected that you will order the most expensive items on the menu.
* The Joy of Feedback Feedback is a business term which refers to the joy of criticizing other people's work. This is one of the few genuine pleasures of the job, and you should milk it for all it's worth.
* Pessimism and Job Experience An optimist is simply a pessimist with no job experience.
* Dogbert's Group IQ Formula The Intelligence Quotient of any meeting can be determined by starting with 100 and subtracting 5 points for each participant.
* Using Meetings to Avoid Work Attending meetins is considered 'working', even if you don't do anything but sit there. Try to attend as many meetings as possible.
* Weasal Words Weasal words are words that are true without being informative. They are useful in situations where a clear explanation would be embarrassing.
* Nobody Knows Any More Than You Do Buzzwords are valuable for intimidating outsiders and making them think you're smarter than you really are. Corollary: People who sound smart are usually bluffing. You can uncover their bluffs by using simple interrogation.
* Weasel Words Weasel words are words that are true without being informative. They are useful in situations where a clear explanation would be embarrassing.
* Avoiding Criticism The best way to avoid criticism is to establish a reputation for being irrational and beiligerent at the slightest excuse.
* Getting Fired Big companies have procedures that make it nearly impossible to fire anybody. If you have no career ambition and no pride you can take great advantage of this situation.
* Handling Questions People don't ask questions to get answers they ask questions to show how smart they are. Your best strategy is to say you'll get back to them but never do it.
* Dogbert's Theory of Assignments You can tell how important an assignment is by how it is communicated to you. All assignments are eventually delegated to the person who understands them the least.
* The Importance of Strategies All companies need a strategy so the employees will know what they don't do.
# DILBERT AND THE WAY OF THE WEASEL
There's a gigantic gray area between good moral behavior and outright felonious activities. I call that the Weasel Zone and it's where most of life happens. In the Weasel Zone everything is misleading, but not exactly a lie. There's a subtle difference. When you lie, you hope to fool someone. But when you're being a weasel, everyone is aware that you're a manipulative, scheming, misealing sociopath. For example, no one believes a salesperson who says there are no hidden costs. And no one believes a lawyer who says, "Have a nice day." You know that none of that is sincere. And they know that you know, so in a way, it's a form of honesty a weasel form.
If you want to be safe from weasels, you need to think like a weasel. I recommend maintaining a constant level of mistrust and cynicism.
The Weasel's Motto: "To err is human. To cover it up is weasel."
[Work and the Weasel
"I'm hoarding my knowledge in case I ever need it."
At some point in your career you will be asked to train a new person to take over your job. It would be embarrassing if your co-workers found out that your job can be learned in two hours. That's why, as a weasel, you want to leave out vital information in the training. You need to instill in your trainee a feeling that he or she know what to do while having no actual competence. Ideally you want your trainee to make an embarrassing and costly mistale right out of the gate so people will long for the good old days of you.
"This week I was rendered
useless by the stress of bad management."
"That's something we only say in the cafeteria."
"You're doing a terrific job!"
"Try to find a middle range."
- Dilbert advises Asok on how to report to The Boss
Only the most cunning
weasels can survive 30 years of hard time in a cubicle farm. Here are some
weasel tips and tricks:
* Overcommitting For every task you plan to do, it's a good idea to have 60 tasks that you've promised to do later if you ever find the time. This gives everyone an impression that you are valiantly battling an avalanche of work and fighting against long odds to make the company successful. Or they might just think you're a worthless, inefficient weasel. Either way, your pay is exactly the same and it cuts down on your workload.
* Compliance Given a choice between complying with a ridiculous policy and pretending to comply, weasels will do whatever is easiest. Usually it's easiest to pretend. If you choose to pretend, then you need an escape plan in case you get caught. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. But when it comes to your job, ignorance is an excellent excuse because it's so believable. Between the fact that your boss never tells you important things and the fact that you never read any email that's marked urgent, no one expects you to know anything. It's a miracle that you can find your cubicle. Use that reputation to your advantage.
* Phone Calls When you work for a big company, the only way to succeed is by begging dozens of people to do the one thing they hate above all else i.e. their jobs... People have learned to avoid answering the phone because it's always someone asking them to do work. Incoming calls rarely involve people volunteering to help you. Nothing good can come from answering the phone.
* Sick Days Vacation days for weasels. Weasels have an uncanny ability to get sick for exactly the number of days their companies allow as sick days per year. "Sick" is a highly subjective concept. If you're like a normal human, there's almost always something wrong with you... The trick to sounding sick on the phone is to leave a voice mail for your boss within 30 seconds of waking up. If you're like me, you routinely have the following symptoms each and every time you wake up in the morning: Aching muscles, pounding headache, no energy, funky voice and depression. After two sips of coffee I'k feeling fine. But that first 30 seconds is indistinguishable from the last moment before dying of black plague. If you make the call during that peirod, your boss will actually thank you for staying home. The main risk in taking sick days is that whatever weasel schemes you have cooking at work might require your presence to keep them bubbling along.
* Back Pay For Weasels Back injuries are the perfect weasel scheme because they're hard to disprove. Scientists don't even understand how backs work... The best time to fake a back injury is a week before you know you're going to get fired for incompetence (assuming there is no severance package). From that moment on, you're a protected species, like the red squirrels eating my roof, only more rodent-like. Your employer will be afraid to fire you after you've been injured on the job because it will look like retaliation for making your disability insurance go up. It's the perfect weasel trap.
* Getting Fired for
a Living If your company is in a death spiral and looking to get rid
of employees, it might beef up the severance package until you find it
irresistible. That's when you need to stop sabotaging the careers of your
coworkers and start sabotaging yourself so you can get fired and get that
money... If you're a man and your boss is a woman wear unappealing
shoes to work. Women don't like to be around men with substandard footwear.
Women won't admit this, but they consider the men around them to be free-range
accessories for their own outfits. If you clash, you're hash. If your ratty
appearance doesn't move you to the front of the canning line, then it's
time to take drastic actio: stop being a weasel. That's right; forget about
hiding your incompetence... Your employer might try to counter your weasel
plan with a weasel move of his own, like this:
"What's our current severance package?"
"I transfer you to a bad job and you quit without giving notice."
"I hate your package."
"I hear that a lot."
* Taking Training If you get a kick out of making your boss nervous, take training classes. Bosses know that when you display an appetite for learning, it means one thing: you're planning to leave for a better job. Your pointy-haired boss would prefer that you remain slightly incompetent because incompetence is less expensive than training, and incompetent employees can't leave for better jobs.
* Time The late weasel will swear that he left for the meeting with time to spare but he got a flat tire, was hit by a meteor, or realized halfway to the meeting that he wasn't wearing pants. The weird thing is that the excuses generally check out. You can go to the weasel's house and examine his wrecked car and see the meteor still embedded in the engine block. Individually the excuses of weasels are completely understandable. It's only collectively that you notice that meteors only hit people who prefer being late. If you asked him, he'd say it's not a preference he's just busy or disorganized or unlucky. That's weasel-speak for "I like being late and I have no respect for any other human being."
"I scheduled the meeting
for 6am so everyone can make it."
"I assume you'll show up at 8 and blame traffic."
- The Boss and Dilbert
* Business Politeness When a lying weasel is shovelling huge wheelbarrows of nonsense at you, turn your back and use one foot to mime that you are kicking sand in his direction, like a cat covering his work in a sandbox. We should all agree that this means, "Your version of reality is creative and stimulating, I am sure that if someday scientists discover other universes, then what you say will be proven true. I for one am willing to wait until that day."
* Weaselmath Replacing small numbers with large numbers. If you were the proprietor of the Pocket Lint Museum in California, and you wanted to tout your popularity, you wouldn't say, "Visited by over three people per year and they only stopped to ask directions!" You would replace the small number three with the much larger number 12 million, as in "Located in a state with over 12 million tourist visits per year!" The beauty of weaselmath is that relvancy isn't important.
* Technology Demo Keep your product away from the filthy and unpredictable fingers of anyone who is not thoroughly trained in what to avoid touching. One tap of a wrong button could create a cascade of electrical problems, that will erase hard disks, set off fire alarms, and summon the undead. And, most importantly, try to smile and have fun. Ignore the fact that any number of disasters with the demo could ruin your company, your career, and your last hope for propagating your genes.
* Signaling Your Lack
of Importance You can tell what rank you hold in the corporation by how
people react to you when you enter their office and find them on the phone.
If He or She...
(a) Greets you immediately, apologizes to the caller, and ends phone call.
(b) Gives you the "just one minute" finger signal and finishes call in a leisurely fashion.
(c) Asks for your pena dn then throws it in the hallway, and after you retrieve it you discover that the dooe has been closed and locked.
Then You Are...
(a) Very important.
(c) Not important.
* Either-or-Weasels Lack of specificity is one of the weasel's greatest tricks. It's hard to say no to something until you know what it is. When facing an either-or-weasel, most people would make the mistake of declining a vague invitation to meet and offering some sort of "reason" such as being busy. That won't work. It's a trap. The weasel would immediately respond to the reason of being too busy with an offer of flexibility. The weasel will meet anytime... The either-or approach is a time-honored weasel technique. It's most often used for selling things that people don't want. The weasel offers you two choices that both mean yes. For example, in my case the weasel offered to meet me either before or after my public appearance. That form of a question tricks the brain into considering which choice to pick instead of whether to meet at all. Luckily, I am an experienced weasel. I countered with qanother weasel trick that I call selective ignoring. I responsed to her email by asking what she wanted to discuss, ignoring the question of when to meet. Now the weasel is on the other foot. If she accuses me of ignoring her question, she will appear pushy. That will work against her goal of persuading me to do something I don't want to do.
* Weasel Approvals If you work in a large company, try to charge all of your expenses to someone else's project. Usually the accounting control systems are so poor that no will notice. If you get caught,, say "Oops", and then start charging your time to someone else's project. This is not yet recognized as a crime. It falls squarely into the weasel zone, and you should exploit it as long as the law allows... Some people have the motto: "It's better to ask forgiveness than to seek approval". Unfortunately, some bosses have the motto: "It's better to fire assholes than to do with them". Make sure your boss doesn't have that motto. The weasel method of asking for forgiveness doesn't work if you do something without permission and that something turns out to be a colossal mistake.
* Headcount Weasels If you see your boss walking down the hall with paper of any sort in his hand, he's looking for a headcount to give an assignment to. You'll want to dissolve into the side of the nearest cubicle and remain motionless until the opportunity passes. The more experienced headcounts will learn to make the least amount of disruption in the environment. Try to walk sideways so you don't displace much air. Avoid perfumes, lotions, colognes, and microwave popcorn. Turn down the sound on your computer and turn off your telephone ringer. Do what the submarine captains do run silent, run deep.
* Pick the Right Company If you company sells a product people need, there's almost nothing you can do to stop them from trying to give you money. That's a very liberating though. Try to work for companies that make essential things like electricity and clean water and cable television and phone service. If you work in one of those places, you don't even have to pretend you care about your customers.
* Hiding Your Incompetence If you are colassally incompetent at your job, it's a good idea to keep that fact to yourself. The three most potent cloaking tools of the incomptent weasel are: (1) Getting angry; (2) Talking during meetings; (3) Acting overworked. You can make timid people stop asking questions by answering the wrong question and then acting angry that your answer is not being treatred as if it's adequate. When faced with this tactic, most timid victims will give up and look for something else to do.
* Company Cults Your company might be a cult. That can be good because in terms of blending into the background it doesn't get any easier. Your company will tell you exactly how to behave in order to be indistinguishable from every other headcount... One way to find out if your company is a cult is to see if you have a "values statement". A values statement describes how the employees are expected to act and includes things like honesty, trust and teamwork. A values statement is created when managers realize their entire staff is infested with weasels. Weasel infestation is a huge problem for senior management because it greatly reduces the assets of the company that are available for them to steal via a process known as stock options... If you suspect that your company has become a cult, don't be alarmed unless you hear any of the red flag phrases such as comet, Kool-Aid, polygamy, shaved head and multilevel marketing.
* Imaginary Raises
Imaginary raises come in several forms. The first type involves informing
employees what they would have gotten as a raise if in fact there had been
any money in the budget for that sort of thing:
"This report shows how much your raise would be if raises hadn't been cancelled."
"Wow! My imaginary life is doing great... Now back to pretending to work."
- Dilbert's response to an 'imaginary raise'
"You've got to work
18 hours a day to compete in this industry!"
"Let's just say we *work* 18 hours a day. Maybe our competitors will die trying to match us."
"Would that work?"
"It almost worked on us."
- The Boss and Dilbert
"According to this
survey the compensation here is 'competitive'."
"Competitive means not the highest. So we could get paid more if we worked at another company? Should we continue working as hard as we can or should we back off to a more competitive level?"
- The Boss and Dilbert
* Job Interviews Luckily for managers everywhere, the most dreaded experience in the life of any employee is the job interview. Most employees prefer years of abuse over job interviews. There is a sort of informal cartel agreement among all companies to make the interview process as humiliating and degrading as possible. That keeps employees from job-hopping.
* Weasel Caring A close relative of weasel-caring is weasel-listening. The point of weasel-listening is to act as if you value the input of other people.
"Alice, I care about
you. But only enough to improve your morale, not enough to be illegal in
any way. So, tell me about your health in the least specific way possible."
- The Boss
* Noble Rationale If something is good for your employees, then there's no reason to make it sound nobler than it really is... The time to get fancy is when you want to save money in some way that ends up screwing your employees... Employees will eventually learn to predict the degree of screwing they're going to get by counting the number of syllables it takes to reassure them everything is ok.
"Cubicle walls will
be removed 'in order to improve communication'."
"Why do the worst ideas always have the noblest sounding reasons?"
"Employees will be leashed and branded 'in order to improve morale'."
- The Boss and Dilbert
"I fired everyone who
used the internet for personal stuff. The only wrinkle in that policy is
that you and I are the only employees left. And frankly I use the web for
personal stuff too.
"Can you teach me how?"
- Catbert and The Boss
* Doing Something As a manager, all of your information comes from employees. And they're all notorious weasels. That means 99% of the time you have no idea what the real problem is or what needs to be done. Whatever you decide to do is likely to fall into the random category. But you must do something i.e. act like a manager or else a better actor will replace you.
* Humiliating Assignments As a boss, sometimes you need to assign degrading and humiliating tasks to members of your staff, either because the tasks need to get done or sometimes just for fun. Your easiest solution is to give the humiliating assignment to the youngest person... Eventually young employees grow up to be bitter and cynical skin-covered vehicles used to transport bile from one meeting to another. But until then, they are valuable resources. It might be necessary to tell your young employees that an assignment is more important than it really is.
* Selective Truth The best way to mislead people without lying is to avoid volunterring unpleasant truths. Technically, that's not lying. Don't feel bad about 'nonfull disclosure'. It's a public service. If people knew what they were buying or eating or whom they were hiring, then no one would do anything, the economy would disintegrate, and we'd all starve to death.
* Thickheadedness Thickheadedness, either real or faked, can be a powerful management tool. If people think they can change your mind by making good arguments, they might try. You don't have time for that. It's much better to convince your employees that your brain is just barely able to keep your internal organs working. That's the optimal weasel zone.
* Nonthreatening Employees If you make the mistake of hiring competent employees and training them, then your boss can someday replace you with one of your excellent employees. The safest balance as far as your career is concerned is to hire people who look competent (no dopey faces). Dysfunctional employees have another benefit too. You can launch them at projects that are managed by your rivals within the company.
"Wally, you have failed
to achieve any of your written objectives. But by pure chance, you achieved
all of my hidden objectives. Here's another project I need smothered with
"I'm all over it."
- The Boss and Wally
* Weasel Trap Any positive trait can be weasel-worded to sound like a flaw. For example, if you are 'accurate', then you are too much of a 'perfectionist'. If you are the sort of person who always "sees the big picture", then you don't have good "attention to details". If you "don't ask inane question" during meetings, you're "not participating". If you "do your important work" instead of being diverted down rabbit trails by disoraganized coworkers, then you're "not a team player".
* Withholding Information As a weasel boss, you want your employees to believe that you have no useful information whatsoever... Communicating with your employees is like being a frightened chunk of marble in a room full of sculptors. They'll try to chip away at everything you say until by process of elimination they figure out the truth.
* Use Weaseleze Weaseleze is the official tongue of weasels. It's composed of words that make perfect sense individually, but when artfully arranged, they become misleading or impenetrable. Weaseleze is used often in advertising, legal work, employee performance reviews, and dating.
* CEO Weasels As a CEO, be sure to take control of the board of directors. Maneuever your buddies into any openings and conspire to kick off anyone who might be a threat to your compensation. Recommend a big pay increase for directors. They'll return the favor later by voting for a huge compensation package for you. As a general rule, it's good to have the sort of job where you can recommend pay increases for the people who recommend pay increases for you.
"I make a motion that
the board of directors double my pay. All in favor, bleat like sheep."
"Ba-a-a. Ba-a-a. Ba-a-a."
"...I think we're missing a check or a balance somewhere."
- Dogbert the CEO gets a pay increase as Dilbert looks on
* Six Sigma When I heard that GE and Motorola were using Six Sigma, I knew it must be the sort of virus that prefers a large bureaucratic host the kind of place where it's unwise to be the one to identify a 'problem' with the current way of doing things... Once you have your Six Sigma program in place, you can take credit for any lucky things that happens in the industry
* Weaseliest Professions I'd be great at any profession where it's hard to verify whether you are a maverick visionary or a stinkin' weasel. For example, I think I could be a famous physicist, as long as I stuck to theory and didn't try to detonate any bombs... Every few months I would write a papert full of things that were so smart-sounding that my readers would be forced to assume the confusion was originating in their own brains... Then I'd say, "If that doesn't make sense, maybe you should have paid more attention in school."
* Suggestions of Threat
The best kinds of jobs are the ones where you don't need to threaten
customers because they're already afraid of you. Good examples of those
types of jobs are:
(1) Drug kingpins; (2) Police; (3) Banks.
* Financial Weasels Wherever there is money, there are weasels, usually in direct proportion. Someday an economist will win the Nobel Prize for discovering the exact dollar-per-weasel equation that explains our world. It will look something like this: 1 Weasel = $10. Wherever there is anything of value worth $10, a weasel will appear as if by magic. This explains why banks have so many employees (i.e. weasels) even though the entire banking system could be computerized and run by three people. Most of the banking weasels are employed solely to keep the other weasels from stealing all the money. Banks use a sophisticated system of weasel-cancellation technology, such as requiring at least two weasels to be in the valut area at all times... The entire financial system is designed to transfer money from lesser weasels to greater weasels.
* Credit Cards Credit cards are very profitable for banks because bankers understand that people are both greedy and bad at math.
* Retail Sales Weasels There are two types of retail weasels: Unscrupulous (paid on comission); Lazy (paid by the hour). Unscrupulous employees, who are paid on commission, have to screw their customers and coworkers to make money. The lazy ones only screw their employer. If you have a choice, try to get a job as a lazy employees because, as the name implies, it's easier.
[The Weasel Mind]
* Weasel Debating Tactics Accuse your opponent of being insensitive. This method works because it's always true. I'm willing to bet that even conjoined twins complain that the other is insensitive... For every respectable human quality there is an insulting word that means the same thing. For example, accuse open-minded people of being flakes. Accuse cautious people of being afraid of change.
* Weasels are from Venus I realize that everything I say about women in this section is a gross generalization, unfair, untrue, and the result of my poor perception. In other words, it's just like everything I say. Later in the book I will say bad things about men to even up things. That said... There are two types of women: the ones who are currently in discomfort, and the ones who are actively seeking it. That's why women are more effective weasels than men because woman get some sort of bizarre enjoyment out of feeling bad. In the first group, the women currently in discomfort, the most popular causes include childbirth, menstrual cramps, headaches, men and wearing bad shoes. In the second second, the voluntary pain seekers, we have the women who feel fine but are planning to watch sad movies, imagine bad things that don't exist, pick fights with men over things the men didn't mean to say, and shop for uncomfortable shoes... Men are comfort seekers and discomfort avoiders. I think I speak for most men when I say we only enjoy pain when it happens to other people, also known as entertainment... Women know how to inject pain into any situation. If a man has no reason to fight with a woman, she will sense the void and talk nonstop until some sort of pain is generated. For example, a man might begin to doze off or attempt to change the subject. That's proof that he doesn't care about the woman, and it's ground for a fight. When you combine the natural pickiness of women with their ability to endure pain, you have a formula for total domination.
* Glass Ceiling Hypothetical survey question: If you could become CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and all you had to do to get there was kiss 1000 fat, white asses and never see your own children, would you do it? If men and women answer that survey question the same way, I'll admit I'm wrong and that the glass ceiling explains everything. But I think 100% of women would say, "No, thank you," whereas a healthy 30% of men would say, "Let me get my business cards out of the car."
"I feel sick every
morning. All day long I feel like either crying or punching people."
"You've got a bad case of Mahjobis Crappus."
- Alice visits the Doctor
* Ooops Weasel An Oops Weasel creates situations in which something is likely to go wrong, and when it does, the Oops Weasel benefits. It's a powerful technique in the workplace because so many things go wrong naturally that no one will notice a few extra. For example, if an Oops Weasel wants to avoid a meeting, he'll suggest inviting a coworker who's notoriously busy. That will create a scheduling challenge for the meeting organizer and push the meeting several weeks into the future... Calls centers are breeding ground for Oops Weasels. They're full of people who 'accidentally' disconnect your phone after you ask a difficult and time-consuming question.
* The Nigerian Email Scam As you probably learned in high school, the entire GNP of Nigeria is based on revenue generated from email scams.
* Consumer Weasels Weasels are irresistibly drawn to stores that have liberal return policies. To weasels, that's the same as 'free'... Weasels never feel guility about returning merchandise because they always have a good excude, such as "I only needed it for one day and they were charging me like I was going to wear it for the rest of my life."
* Techno-Weasel A weasel who knows a lot about technology. A techno-weasel's happiness is directly related to the gap between his knowledge and his boss's knowledge. The bigger the gap, the more corrupt (i.e. happy) the techno-weasel is.
* Weasel Geniuses I'm an expert at appearing smarter than I am. I have a natural advantage because I'm nearsighted. Glasses add 10 points to your perceived IQ. I'm also unattractive and have a boring personality, so people figure I must be good at math.
Here from an email
are some more excellent tips for appearing smart Dear Mr. Adams, based
on my experiences as a software engineer, I came up with a list of five
things you must do in order to be perceived as a genius in the tech industry:
(1) Be arrogant: nothing makes you look smarter than dismissing other people's ideas with utter disdain.
(2) Refuse to document anything: this guarantees that people will always have to beg you for information.
(3) Be opinionated: don't explain why you have your opinions, just put them out there and mock anyone who disagrees.
(4) Hang around with smart people: you'll look smart if you hang around with smart people.
(5) Resist using any 'process': processes are for losers. Act like you're too smart to need a process because everything you do works on the first try.
* Political Weasels The goal of every political campaign is to discourage voter turnout to the point where the candidate with the largest family wins. This is known as the Kennedy Strategy.
My favourite thing that politicians say is "The voters aren't dumb." This is something that voters generally believe because they are dumb.... I don't think the government keeps statistics of how many people die from stupidity, but they should. It has to be a big number. I suppose the problem is that it's so subjective and you don't want to make the family members feel any worse.
Family Member: "Oh
my God! What happened, Officer?"
Cop: "He died of stupidity."
Family Member: "What?"
Cop: "Yep. He drank a case of beer, hijacked a truck full of anvils, and tried to drive it across a frozen lake in April."
Family Member: "Do you have to write it up that way? It sounds so cruel."
Cop: "No. I'll call it a driving accident."
* Expert Weasels
Television is full of experts lately. Experts generally say things you
and I could concoct while drinking enormous quanities of alcohol. Sometimes
I like to watch the news and act as if it's a game show where I have to
guess how the experts will answer the questions. It goes like this:
News Anchor: "Is it ever good to attack innocent people?"
Me (at Home): (guessing) "Um... I think the expert will say no."
Expert: "We should do whatever we can to avoid it."
Me (at Home): "Woo-hoo! I'm still as smart as an expert! I believe I'll have another beer and try again."
* The Viking System Weasels can only thrive in civilized societies where there are laws against slaying people because you think they deserve it. That's why, for example, you never hear stories involving elderly Viking weasels. Weasels don't last that long under the Viking system.
* Free Speech If you're reading this book, you probably live in a country that has freedom of speech. But there are still some things you'd better not say. For example, you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. You can't say "Mayday" on the radio just for fun. You can't joke about anthrax in the lunchroom. You can't describe your genitalia to your coworkers. You can't threaten to hurt someone. You can't say you're a cop if you're not. You can't lie under oath. You can't curse too much on television. You can't insult minorities. You can't slander. You can't complain about your employer without getting fired. You can't insult gang members and live. You can't mention bombs at the airport. And you can't solicit sex for money. That eliminates most of the things you want to say.
* Self-weaseling We self-weasel, i.e. delude ourselves into thinking whatever we're doing is okay... Commuters are a group that do a heroic job of self-weaseling... Commuting is the ultimate revenge of the inner-city folks. They're saying, in their own inimitable way, "You can have a great job and a great house, but if you put them near each other, we'll kill you." As a geneal rule, most criminals are located between your workplace and your house. That's why you need to transport yourself inside a metal container of some sort, i.e. a car, SUV, tain, subway or armored bodysuit.
* Be Happy That Weasels Infest The World Weasels are like motor oil for society. It wouldn't be fair to judge motor oil outside the context of the engine. If you put motor oil in your mouth, it would be slimy and filthy and leave a bad taste. But when that oil is inside an engine, it does an important job, and you're glad it's there. Weasels are the same way: slimy and disgusting but essential. And you don't want them in your mouth. Without weasels there would be no romance, no government, no friendship and no commerce.... If we allow ourselves to be bamboozled regularly it stimulates the economy and creates disposable income for weasels who are then able to buy whatever defective products we're selling. And that reminds me: thank you for reading my book.
# THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE
Unmarried men commit
90% of all violent acts. They should all be jailed in advance to prevent
further atrocities. And I should become a media sensation for suggesting
such a provocative thing. The End.
...It's hard to write a whole book when you're as gifted as I am at getting to the point.
As some of you may know, my main profession is cartooning. It's a challenge for a cartoonist to write a whole book. Cartoonists are trained to be brief.
Most of the themes
in my comic strip Dilbert involve workplace situations. I routinely include
bizarre and unwordly elements such as sadistic talking animals, troll-like
accountants and employees turning into dishrags after the life-force has
been drained from their bodies. And yet the comment I hear most often is
"That's just like my company."
No matter how absurd I try to make the comic strip I can't stay ahead of what people are experiencing in their own workplaces. Some examples for the so-called real world include:
- A major technology company simultaneously rolled out two new programs: (1) a random drug testing program, and (2) an "Individual Dignity Enhancement" program.
- A company decided that instead of raises it will give bonuses if 5 of 7 company goals are met. At the end of the year the employees are informed that they have met only 4 of 7 goals, so no bonuses. One of the goals they missed was 'employee morale'.
When I first started hearing these stories I was puzzled, but after careful analysis I have developed a sophisticated theory to explain the existence of this bizarre workplace behaviour: People are idiots. Including me. Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with the low SAT scores. The only difference is that we're idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot. I proudly include myself in the idiot category. Idiocy in the modern age isn't an all-encompassing 24-hour situation for most people. It's a condition that everybody slips into many times a day. Life is just too complicated to be smart all the time...
I can't replace the battery in my pager... Yet somehow I managed to operate a motor vehicle to the repair shop and back. It is a wondrous human characteristic to be able tp slip into and out of idiocy many times a day without noticing the change or accidentally killing innocent bystanders in the process.
"You seem like a bright
fellow. Have you considered joining MENSA?"
"Is that the group with genius IQs?"
"Precisely correct. I'm president of the local chapter.
"If we're so smart, why do we work here?"
"Intelligence has much less practical application that you'd think."
- Dilbert is recruited for MENSA
* The Evolution of Idiots I blame sex and paper for most of our current problems. Here's my logic: Only one person in a million is smart enough to invent a printing press. So, when society consisted of only a few hundred apelike people living in caves, the odds of one of them being a genius was fairly low. But people kept having sex, wand with the every moron added to the population, the odds of a deviant smarty-pants slipping through the genetic net got higher and higher. When you've got several million people running around having sex all willy-nilly the odds are fairly good that some pregnant ape-mom is going to squat in a field someday and pinch out a printing-press making deviant. Once we had printing presses, we were pretty much doomed. Because then, every time a new smart deviant came up with a good idea, it would get written down and shared. Every good idea could be built upon. Civilization exploded. Technology was born. The complexity of life increased geometrically. Everything got bigger and better. Except our brains. All the technology that surrounds us, all the management theories, the economic models that predict and guide our behavior, the science that helps us live to 80 it's all created by a tiny percentage of deviant smart people. The rest of us are treading water as fast as we can. The world is too complex for us. Evolution didn't keep up. Thanks to the printing press, the deviant smart people managed to capture their genius and communicate it without having to pass it on genetically. Evolution was short-circuited. We got knowledge and technology before we got intelligence. We're a planet of nearly 6 billion ninnies living in a civilization that was designed by a few thousand amazingly smart deviants.
"My laptop computer
is locked up. Can you help?"
"Remember you have to hold it upside down and shake it to reboot."
"Oh, that's right."
"...I wonder if he'll ever realize we gave him an 'Etch-a-Sketch'."
- The Boss, Dilbert and Wally
* The Peter Principle In the annual Dilbert Survey to find out what management practices were most annoying to employees, the number-one vote-getter in this highly unscientific survey was "Idiots Promoted to Management." This seemed like a subtle change from the old concept by which capable workers were promoted until they reached their level of incompetence best described as the "Peter Principle". Now, apparently, the incompetent workers are promoted directly to management without ever passing through the temporary competence stage. When I entered the workforce in 1979, the Peter Principle described management pretty well. Now I think we'd all like to return to those Golden Years when you had a boss who was once good at something... Back then, we all had hopes of being promoted beyond our levels of competence... We didn't understand it then, but the much underrated Peter Principle always provided us with a boss who understood what we did for a living. Granted, he made consistently bad decisions after all, he had no management skills. But at least they were the informed decisions of a seasoned veteran from the trenches... Lately, however, the Peter Principle has given way to the Dilbert Principle. The basic concept of the Dilbert Principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to places where they can do the least damage: management. This has not proved the winning strategy that you might think.
"I need to promote
one of you to the district manager position. Dilbert, your technical knowledge
is too valuable to lose. Ditto for Alice. Neither of you can be promoted.
The only logical choice is to promote Al because he has no valuable knowledge."
- The Boss
[Boss Types with Dogbert]
Hostage Taker: Traps you in your cubicle and talks your ears off.
Fraud: Uses vigorous head-nodding to simulate comprehension.
Motivational Liar: Has no clue what to do but says you're the best.
Over Promoted: Tries to mask incompetence with poor communication.
Weasel: Takes credit for your hard work.
Moses: Perpetually waits for clear signals from above.
Perfect Boss: Dies of natural causes on a Thursday afternoon.
"Evolution favors monkeys.
Eventually, humans will be kept in cages as pets.
"Impossible! We humans will never allows ourselves to be treated like that. Now get out of my cubicle!"
- Zimba and Dilbert
* Humiliation Employee morale is a risky thing. Happy employees will work harder without asking for extra pay. But if they get too happy, endorphins will kick in, egos expand, and everybody starts whining about the fact with their current pay they'll have to live in a dumpster after retirement. The best balance of morale for employee productivity can be described this way: happy, but with low self-esteem. Over the years, employers have developed a broad range of techniques that bring employees' self-esteem back into the 'productive zone' without sacrificing happiness. This chapter discusses the most important humiliation techniques: Cubicles; Hoteling; Furniture; Dress Clothes; Employee Recognition Programs; Undervaluing Employee Contributions; Making them wait.
"I think I'll invent
some illogical policies to annoy employees. My diabolical new dress code
will make them question their own sanity."
- Catbert the HR Director
"So casual clothes
don't lower our stock value. But only if worn on Fridays. Unless somebody
else sees us... got it?"
"I think I'm insane."
- Dilbert and Wally
"I don't understand
your new dress code policy, Mr Catbert."
"It's simple. Fridays are 'Casual'. But you can't wear jeans because jeans look good and feel good and you already own several pairs."
- Alice and Catbert
"Well, it wouldn't
be Friday if I didn't see Alice wearing her one pair of tan pants... I
love the 'Business Casual' look for the way it combines unattractive with
unprofessional while diminishing neither."
- Wally, coming around
"We will produce the
highest quality products, using empowered team dynamics in a new Total
Quality paradigm until we become the industry leader."
- A sample Mission Statement
* Mission Statement If your employees are producing low quality products that no sane person would buy, you can often fix that problem by holding meetings to discuss your Mission Statement. A Mission Statement is defined as "a long awkward sentence that demonstrates 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.
* Announcements The
purpose of a company announcement is to convey the message that something
is happening something that you aren't important enough to be informed
about in any meaningful detail. But if you're clever, you can sometimes
read between the lines and understand the true meaning, as in this example:"
"Tim will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Note the absence of key phrases such as 'we regret' or 'years of dedicated service'. And notice that his new opportunity is not called 'exiciting'."
"I think you're reading a little too much into that announcement."
"No, I'm reading the footnote."
- The Boss and Dilbert
"I made a few thousand
suggestions on your first draft."
"Of all the pleasures in life, I think nit-picking is the best."
"That could explain the break-up of your marriage."
"You wouldn't believe what *she* thought was fun."
- Wally and Dilbert
* Great Lies of Management
For your convenience I have compiled and numbered the most popular management
lies of all time:
(1) Employees are out most valuable asset; (2) I have an open-door policy; (3) You could earn more money under the new plan; (3) We're reorganizing to better serve our customers; (5) The future is bright; (6) We reward risk-takers; (7) Performance will be rewarded; (8) We don't shoot the messenger; (9) Training is a high priority; (10) I haven't heard any rumors; (11) We'll review your performance in 6 months; (12) Our people are the best; (13) Your input is important to us.
It's not always easy to tell the difference between a scurrilous management lie and ordinary nitwittism. When confronted with an ambiguous situation you can usually sniff out the truth by a handy method that I call the "What Is More Likely" test.
Is it likely that the perpetual flow of rumors has suddenly stopped just at the time when the odds are highest that something might actually happen? 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 Chihuahua? *I've done extensive studies of Chihuahua work habits and discovered that a truckload of Chihuahuas is the least productive organizational size.
"I've got good news
and bad news. The bad news is that huge companies like us can't compete
against small, nimble companies. The good news is that at this rate we'll
be the smallest company around."
- The Boss
People will judge you by the company you keep, especially during lunch. Never eat lunch with a person of lower salary exceptions: your boss's secretary (indirect sucking up).
"Hey it's lunchtime.
Would you like to join me in the canteen?"
"Oh... no. I couldn't do that. I'm on the management track. So I can't be seen eating lunch with you. If I'm seen with an ordinary employee then people will think I'm ordinary. I'd like to eat with senior executives, but of course they don't want to be seen with me. So I've perfected a method of slipping quietly away at lunchtime."
"...The scary part is that someday that man will be my boss."
- Dilbert and a junior exec
Your simpleminded relatives were technically correct when they told you "Two wrongs don't make a right". What they failed to mention is that tw wrongs can sometimes cancel each other out, and although it's not as good as a "right" it's much better than one wrong. If you're clever, you can neutralize any blunder through a series of offsetting destructive acts.
* Form Over Substance If a document is over 2 pages long, few people will ever read it. And those who do read it won't remember it in 24 hours. That's why all your documents should be over 2 pages long. You don't want your readers to be influenced by a bunch of facts. You want them to look at your creative use of fonts and your inspired graphics. Good formatting leaves the reader with the clear impression that you are a genius and therefore whatever you're writing abut must be a good idea.
* Appeal To Greed You can short-circuit the two or three neurons that people use for common sense by appealing their greed. Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating and religion.
* Intimidation By Loudness Speak loudly and act irrationally. Coworkers and even bosses will bend to your will if you use this method consistently. Consistency is the key. Send a clear signal that you cannot be swayed by reason and that you'll never stop being loud and obnoxious until you get your way. This method is effective because the law prevents people from killing you and there's no other practical way to make you stop... After you get your way, turn instantly into the sweetest person your victim has ever seen... This widens the gap between the experience people have when they satisfy you and the experience they have when they don't.
* Manupulate The Media Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same. Contrary to what you might believe, the quotes you see in news stories are rarely what was actually said and rarely in the original context. Most quotes are engineered by the writers to support whatever notion they had before the story. Avoid any mention of a name or topic that you wouldn't want to see yourself misquoted about... All news stories focus on something that is very good or very bad. help the writer determine what is very good about your situation; otherwise the default story is generally about something that is very bad.
* The Best Jobs The
best jobs are those that have results that cannot be measured. Stay away
from jobs in which your value can be measured in quantity and timelines.
You can exaggerate your impact on quality much more easily than you can
exaggerate your impact on quantity.
Bad Jobs Sales; Programming; Operations; Customer Service; Shipping.
Good Jobs Strategy; Anyting with 'Media' in the name; Marketing (for mature products); Long-term reengineering projects; Advertising; Procurement.
* Virtual Hourly Compensation
You're working more hours than ever. And if you're one of the so-called
exempt employees you aren't getting paid for overtime. If might seem that
your average hourly pay is shrinking like a cheap cotton shirt. Not true!
Nature had a way of balancing these things out. You have to consdier the
total compensation picture, which I call 'Virtual Hourly Compensation'
the total amount of compensation you receive per hour, including:
Salary; Bonuses; Health Plan; Inflated Travel Reimbursement Claims; Stolen Office Supplies; Cofee; Donuts; Newspapers and Magazines; Personal Phone Calls; Office Sex; Illegitimate Sick Days; Internet Surfing; Personal Email; Free Photocopies; Resume Laser Printing; Training For Your Next Job; Cubicle Used as Retail Outlet; Telecommuting.
"I have an ethical
question about telecommuting Dogbert. Do I owe my exmployer 8 productive
hours, or do I only need to match the 2 productive hours I would have in
"Well, when you factor in how you're saving the planet by not driving, you only owe one hour."
"And this meeting counts."
- Dilbert and Dogbert
* Performance Reviews Your boss will ask you to document your accomplishments as input for your Performance Review. To the unprepared employee, this might seem like being forced to dig one's own grave... The key to your manager's strategy is tricking you into confessing your shortcomings. Your boss will latch on to those shortcomings like a pit bull on a trespasser's buttocks. Once documented, your 'flaws' will be passed on to each new boss you ever have, serving as justification for low rates for the rest of your life... But performance reviews can be like a big bag of uncounted rubies. It doesn't matter how many rubies were originally in the bag; what matters is the number you report to your boss. Follow that simply philosophy when describing your accomplishments.
* Surround Yourself With Losers Make sure you work in a group of losers. Losers are the ones who will get low raises, thus leaving ample budget funds for you... Losers are your friends (figuratively speaking). If you don't have any losers in your group, help your boss recruit some, preferably in areas that don't affect your life. You want losers to be within the same general budget area, but not close enough to annoy you on a daily basis.
"Since you won't go
away, I'll make you an intern."
"Great! What's an intern?"
"You'll spend your day in a high-traffic cube trying to look busy. Your main function is to make the rest of us glad we're not you."
"...How did people ever look busy before computers?"
- Dilbert and Ratbert
* Complain Constantly
About Your Workload Take every opportunity to complain about the unreasonable
demands that are being placed on you. Reinforce your message during every
interaction with a co-worker or manager. Here are some time-tested phrases
that you should insert into every conversation:
"I'm up to my ass in alligators"
"I've been putting our fires all day."
"I had 1500 voice mail messages today. Typical."
"It looks like I'll be here on the weekend. Again."
Over time, these messages will work themselves into the subconscious of everybody around you and they will come to think of you as a hard worker without every seeing a scrap of physical evidence to support the theory. In other words, don't be this guy:
"I need to identify
unnecessary and unproductive employees so I can cut costs. Does anybody
have spare time to join my task force on productivity?"
<Red-shirt puts up his hand>
"Good, good... anybody else?"
- The Boss
* Voicemail Never answer your phone if you have voicemail. People don't call you because they want to give you something for nothing. They call you because they want you to do work for them. That's no way to lie. Screen all your calls through voicemail. If somebody leaves a voicemail for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during your lunch hour when you know the caller won't be there. That sends a signal that you're hardworking and conscientious even though you're being a devious weasel.
* Swearing For men, swearing can help them bond with other men. But this contributes in only a tiny way to business success. Men are expected to swear, so it means little when they do. It had no shock value. For example, if a man comes to the office of another men and offers to show him a report, a typical response might be 'Ah, shove it up your ass and die'. Then both men laugh and spit and make passing references to 'hooters' thus creating a lifelong bond that cannot be broken (unless hooters are involved). It's not pretty, but swearing has its place among men. For women it's very different. Swearing can be shocking and attention-grabbing. It's a sign of female power and disgregard for boundaries... Fortunately for women, all men are trained at birth to accept verbal abuse from women and get over it rather quickly.
* Use Sarcasm To Get
Your Way By definition, people with bad ideas cannot be swayed by logic.
If they were logical, they wouldn't have bad ideas in the first place
unless the ideas were based on bad data. That leaves you with two possible
strategies for thwarting an illogical and getting your way:
(1) Argue with data. Do exhaustive research to demonstrate the flaws in the person's assumptions.
(2) Use sarcasm to mock the idea and make the person look like a dolt.
If the 'exhaustive research' option looks good to you, you have way too much time on your hands. Plus, it can only work if you're dealing with a coworker who is logical and willing to admit error. And while you're at it, why not find a coworker who is an omnipotent supermodel note the use of sarcasm to show the folly of this approach. Option two, sarcasm, is more flexible. It works whether the person you wish to manipulate had bad data ot a bad brain. Appeal to the person's sense of fear and insecurity. Use sarcasm to point out the potential for future ridicule.
* Dinosaur Strategy The Dinosaur Strategy involves ignoring all new management directives while lumbering along doing things the same way you've always done them. What makes this strategy successful is that it usually takes 6 months for your boss to notice your rebellion and get mad about it. Coincidentally, that's about the length of time any boss stays in the same job... You can safely ignore any order from your boss that would take 6 months to complete... If you wait long enough, any bad idea will become extinct. And most good ideas too.
* Market Segmentation Market segmentation might sound like a complicated thing, but it's the same process you used as a child to select players for a team. Each potential player is evaluated on objective characteristics, such as speed, skill and power. If those characteristics don't produce a conclusive choice, then the group is further segmented by their levels of acne and popularity. The children who rate high in the preferred characteristics are placed in the 'team segment' and those who rate lowest become the market segment most likely to grow up and purchase inflatable women. It's that simple.
* 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 good products. A dollar spent
on brainwashing is more cost-effective than a dollar spent on product improvement.
Obviously, there's a minimum quality that every product has to acheive.
It should be able to withstand the shipping process without becoming unrecognizable...
Males are predictable creatures. That makes it easy to craft a marketing
message that appeals to them. All successful advertising campaigns that
target men include one of these two messages:
(1) This product will help you get dates with bikini models.
(2) This product will save you time and money, which you'll need if you want to date bikini models.
Compared to simpleminded, brutish men, women are more more intricate and complex... Specifically, your message has to say this:
(1) If you buy this product you'll be a bikini model.
"People enter the marketing
profession after they realize that they have grown up without any particular
- Dogbert's guide to understanding marketing people
* Marketing in History
Airline Survey (1920). If you had to travel a long distance, would you
(a) Drive a car; (b) Take a train; (c) Allow yourself to be strapped into a huge metal container that weighs more than your house and be propelled through space by exploding chemicals while knowing that any one of a thousand different human, mechanical or weather problems would you to be incinerated in a spectacular ball of flame?
If you answered (c) would you mind if we stomped on your luggage and sent it to another city?
* Management Consultants If the employees of your company are incompetent, you might want to get some consultants. A consultant is a person who takes your money and annoys your employees while tirelessly searching for ways to extend the consulting contract. 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... 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... Instead they'll look for ways to improve to 'strategy' and the 'process'... Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to be regular employees at your company. Consultants will return your calls, because it's billable time to them. Consultants eventually leave, which makes them excellent scapegoats for major management blunders.
"Here's the final script
of the rest of your life. My supercomputer predicted it."
"Well, according to this I'll be kidnapped by evil squirrels and forced to work in their nut mines."
"They get me too."
"I didn't even know that evil squirrels had nut mines."
"It's probably too late to do anything about it."
- Dilbert and Dogbert
* Engineers In contrast
to 'normal' people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
(1) Get it over with as soon as possible; (2) Avoid getting invited to
something unpleasant; (3) Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of
all subjects. These are sensible goals and ones that can produce great
joy. The social skill of an engineer must be evaluated on the basis of
these rational objectives, not on the basis of bizarre and nonsensicial
societal standards. Viewed in this light, I think you'll agree that engineers
are very effective in their social interactions...
Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic threshold for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste. If you think about it logically, you are the only person who doesn't have to look at yourself, not counting the brief moments you look in the mirror. Engineers understand that their appearance only bothers other people and therefore it is not worth optimizing. Another plus: bad fashion can discourage normal people from interacting with the engineer and talking about the cute things their children do...
Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest and handy around the house. While it's true that many normal peple would prefer not to *date* an engineer, most normal people harbor an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineerlike children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity...
For humans, honesty is a matter of degree. Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't handle the truth...
Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems... Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a problem other times just because they forgot. These types of challenges quickly become personal a battle between the engineer and the laws of nature... If not for the compulsions of engineers, mankind would never have seen the wheel.
* Risk Engineers
hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. This is understandable,
given that when an engineer makes one little mistake the media will treat
it like it's a big deal or something. Examples of Bad Press for Engineers:
Hindenburg; Space Shuttle Challenger; Hubble space telescope; Apoll 13;
The risk\reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:
Risk:- Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people.
Reward:- 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 on a second line of defense: "It's technically possible but it will cost too much." The quickest way to make a project uneconomical is by doubling the resources needed and using a cover story that you need to prevent failures.
* Ego Nothingis more
threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that somebody has more
technical skill. Normal people sometimes use that knowledge as a lever
to extract more work from the engineer. When an engineer says that something
can't be done (a code phrase that means it's not fun to do), some clever
normal people have learned to glance at the engineer with a look of compassion
and pity and say something along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it
out. He knows how to solve difficult technical problems."
At that point, it's a good idea for the normal person not to stand between the engineer and the problem. The engineer will set upon the problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.
* Fear of Change People hate change, and with good reason. Change makes us stupider, relatively speaking. Change adds new information to the universe; information that we don't know. Our knowledge as a percentage of all the things that can be known goes down a tick every time something changed. And frankly, if we're talking about a percentage of the total knowledge in the universe, most of us aren't that many basis points superior to our furniture to begin with.
* Content Free Communications Faced with change, employees have one question: "What's going to happen to me?" A successful change management communication will avoid that question. Rarely does a budiness change result in everybody being happy and nobody getting the shaft. That can be a problem because change requires the participation of all parties, including the eventual shaftees. For management, the trick is to string everybody along until the change is complete and the losers can be weeded out.
* Budgeting If you change the budget often enough, the employees will begin acting like gophers on a rifle range, afraid to do anything that draws attention. And where there is fear there is low spending. And where there is low spending there are huge stock options for senior management, followed by an eventual death spiral of the corporation. I had a point when I started all that, but I suspect it was not a compelling one... When you are forced to defend your budget there are two techniques to keep in mind: (1) lying and (2) lying.
"First you must understand
how numbers changed reality. Some people think numbers merely reflect reality...
but we believe that numbers create reality."
- The Accountant Troll teaches Dilbert how to be an accountant
* Anonymous Email to
Scott Adams Our company solicited ideas for cost cutting. Someone decided
that we could save "X" amount of dollars by eliminating feminine hygiene
products in the women's bathrooms. Our new gung-ho personnel director director
decided that this was really neat, and announced the new proclamation to
the whole company via email. Needless to say, the women in the company
flamed the guy to a well-done crisp. The amount of estimated savings was
close to the total amount we pay the janitorial service, which provides
these products for no extra cost. The email got hotter: "The idea is sexist,"
"We should get rid of the coffee machines," "Eliminate executive bonuses..."
What finally shut everyone up and got the procedure reversed was an email from a manager who told about a female sales exec she knows. When she is involved in a deal with a prospective client, she always checks the feminine hygiene supplies in that company's bathrooms. if the supplies are missing, she knows the company is going down the tube.
"Your competitor was
here an hour ago... He promised me a massage from Helga if I buy his company.
What's your offer?"
"I'll give you my house for Helga."
"You're new at this."
- Dilbert The Salesman
"And our product has
a 30 Terabit RAM cache, just like your company needs. Tell him, Dilbert."
"It has no RAM."
"And it's capable of detecting Tachion field emissions."
"You're confusing us with Star Trek again."
- A salesman and Dilbert
* Meetings If you're new to the business world, you might mistakenly think that meetings are a boring, sadistic hell, populated by galactic-level morons. I had that same misperception when I joined the working world. Now I understand that meetings are a type of performance art, with each actor taking on one of these challenging roles: Master of the Obvious; Well-Intentioned Sadist; Whining Martyrl Rumbling Men; Sleeper.
* Team Leader The job of Team Leader is often viewed as a stepping stone to a management position. That's because anyone who is gullible enough to take on extra work without extra pay is assumed to have the 'right stuff' for management... The Team Leader is typically a person who has no special talent must know how to make viewgraphs and must be a carbon-based lifeform. This characteristic serves the Team Leader well during long meetings. While all the skilled people are squirming around wishing they were out applying their skills, the Team Leader can sit serenely content in the knowledge that no personal talent is going to waste. The word 'leader' might be debateable in this context, since the job of a Team Leader involves asking people what they should be doing, then asking them how they're doing, then blaming them for not doing it.
"The project requirements
are forming in my mind... Now they're changing... changing... changing...
changing... okay. No, wait... changing... changing... done. Naturally,
I won't be sharing any of these thoughts with Engineering."
"I budgeted for some goons to beat it out of you."
- Business User and Dilbert
* Downsizing During the banking phase of my career I had the opportunity to work in a variety of jobs for which I was thoroughly unqualified. Fortunately, none of these jobs added value to the economy so my incompetence didn't do much damage to the local economy... It was during 1980 that I realized the world would run smoothly if companies employed far fewer people like me. In the years that followed, managers all over the world reached the same realization. It was the dawn of downsizing. The first round of downsizing erased people like me people in jobs that sound good in concept but provide no legitimate value to anybody. The company improved its earnings and nobody worked harder because of it. The second round of downsizing was tougher. The employees who remained had to work harder to pick up the duties of departing workers. But in many cases these were 'overtime exempt' employees, meaning they would work extra hours without squawking too much about extra pay. Result: The companies improved their earnings. They knew they had a winning strategy here. For the third round of downsizing, essential jobs were eliminated in huge numbers, but mostly in areas where the impact wouldn't be noticed for at least a year. That includes areas like research, new systems development, business expansion, and training. Result: The companies improved their earnings. There didn't seem to be any bottom to the downsizing well.
"I hired a new director
of Human Resources to handle the downsizing. I needed somebody who acts
like a friend but secretly delights in the misery of all people."
- Dilbert, recommending Catbert to The Boss
"We need to talk, Paul.
But first I'm going to bat your head and scratch you."
"Hee hee! That's so cute."
- Catbert prepares to downsize
* Brightsizing Pessimists point out that the first people to flee a shrinking company are the bright people who can take the 'buy-out' packages and immediately get better jobs elsewhere.
"This will be a tough
year for the company. It will take a special kind of team to get by. Spefically,
it will take a much smaller team."
- The Boss
* Anonymous Email to Scott Adams You know all about companies trying to get 'lean and mean'? A friend says her company has now transcended lean and mean. Now it's 'skinny and pissed'.
[How To Tell If Your
Company Is Doomed]
* Cubicles Assuming your computer hasn't made you sterile, someday your descendants will look back and be amazed that poeople of our generation worked in things called 'cubicles'. They will view our lives much the way we now view the workers from the Industrial Revolution who (I've heard) worked 23 hours a day making steel products using nothing but their foreheads... They might think it was the product of some cruel experiment... how we were forced to sit in big boxes all day, enduring a stream of annoying noises, odors and interruptions.
Scientist: "Whenever you start to concentrate, this device on the desk will make a loud ringing sound to stop you."
Employee. "Um. Okay."
Scientist: "If your stress levels begin to normalize we'll have your boss pop in and give you an assignment that sat on his desk until it was overdue."
...If your company already has cubicles that doesn't necessarily mean it's doomed. But if the direction of the company is toward smaller cubicles or more people in each cubicle, you're doomed.
* Teamwork If you
hear a lot of talk about teamwork at your company, you're doomed. The whole
concept of 'teamwork' changed when it migrated from the world of sports
to the world of business. In basketball, a good team player is somebody
who passes the ball. If you put a businessperson on a basketball team he'd
follow the player with the ball, saying things like "What do you plan to
do with that? Can we talk about it first?" Teamwork is the opposite of
good time management. You can't do a good job managed your time unless
you can blow off your co-workers... An easy way to determine if you have
enough teamwork to be doomed is simply to measure how long it takes from
the time you decide to go to lunch together until you actually eat:
Five Minutes:- Teamwork is annoying but not yet dangerous.
Fifteen Minutes:- Danger, Red Alert.
Sixty Minutes:- Teamwork has reached critical pass; company doomed.
"We're waiting for
Ted, then we can head to the restaurant."
"While we're waiting, I'll return a few calls."
"Let's go! Hey, where's Wally?
"I'll be in the ladies room."
"...The chain reaction has begun. Why can't we do this simple thing?"
- Dilbert struggles to get the Engineering team to lunch
* Presentations To
Management Your company is doomed if your primary product is overhead
transparencies. A typical company has just enough resources to do one of
(1) Accomplish something; (2) Prepare elaborate presentations that lie about how much is being accomplished.
The rational employee will divert all available resources away from accomplishing things and toward the more highly compensated process of lying about accomplishments. It's the same amount of work, but only one has a payoff.
"I'd like each of you
to tell the team what you learned in my workshop."
"I learned to listen with my heart. I gained respect for others. I understand Sanskrit. I got my HAM radio licence. I can divide by zero."
- Alice takes advantage of answering first in Dogbert's dysfunctional team workshop
* Leader Survival Skills The most important skill for any leader is the ability to take credit for things that happen on their own. In primitive times, tribal chieftains would claim credit for the change in seasons and the fact that wood floats. They had the great advantage of the ignorance of the masses working in their favour. But television had largely filled the 'knowledge gap', so the modern leader must take credit for more subtle happenings. For example, if the company accountants predict that profits are going up because of a change in international currency rates, the good leader will create a company-wide 'Quality Initiative', thus having a program in place to take credit for the profit increase.
* Anonymous Email to Scott Adams A manager suggested a way to keep meetings on time. For every minute late to a meeting the tardy person has to contribute $1 for every person present and kept waiting ($ = persons x minutes). This did not last long as soon as the instigator of this policy arrived 40 minutes late to a meeting with 30 people.
[New Company Model:
I developed a conceptual model for a perfect company. The primary objective of this company is to make the employees as effective as possible. I figure the best products come from the most effective employees, so employee effectiveness is the most fundamental of the fundamentals. The goal of my hypothetical company is to get the best work out of the employees and make sure they leave work by 5 o'clock. Finishing by 5 is so central to everything that follows that I named the company OA5 (Out of Five) to reinforce the point. If you let this part of the concept slip, the rest of it falls apart... The goal of OA5 is to guarantee that the employee who leaves at 5pm has done a full share of work and everybody realizes it. For that to happen, the OA5 company has to do things differently than an ordunary company. Companies use a lot of energy trying to increase employee satisfaction. That's very nice of them, but let's face it work sucks. If people liked work they'd do it for free. The reason we have to pay people to work is that work is inherently unpleasant compared to the alternatives. At OA5 we recognize that the best way to make employees satisfied about their work is to help them get away from it as much as possible. An OA5company isn't willing to settle for less productivity from the employees, just less time. The underlying assumptions for OA5 are:
(1) Happy employees are more productive and creative than unhappy ones.
(2) The average person is only mentally productive for a few hours a day no matter how many hours are 'worked'.
(3) People know how to compress their activities to fit a reduced time. Doing so increases both their energy and their interest. The payoff is direct and personal they go home early.
(4) A company can't do much to stimulate happiness and creativity, but it can do a lot to kill them. The trick for the company is to stay out of the way.
Here are the most useful
activities I can tink of for a manager:
* Eliminate the assholes. Nothing can drain the life-force out of your employees as a few sadistic assholes who seem to exist for the sole purpose of making life hard for others. Unfortunately, assholes often have important job skills that you'd like to keep. My advice is that it's never wortth the tradeoff. In an OA5 company if you're making your coworkers unhappy, then you're incompetent by definition. It's okay to be 'tough', and it's okay to be 'aggressive' and it's okay to disagree even shout. Some conflict is healthy. But if you do it with disrespect, or you seem to be enjoying it, or you do it in every situation, guess what you're an asshole. And you're gone.
* Teach employees how to be efficient. Do creative work in the morning, and do routine, brainless work in the afternoon. For example, staff meetings should be held in the afternoon.
* Keep meetings short. Get to the point and get on. Make it clear that brevity and clarity are prized.
* Respectfully interrupt people who talk too long without getting to the point. At first it will seem rude. Eventually it gives everybody permission to the same.
* Be efficient in little things. For example, rather than have some Byzantine process for doling out office supplies, add $25 a month to each employee's paycheck as a 'supply stipend' and let employees buy whatever they need from their local store. If they spend less, they keep the difference.
* If you create an internal memo with a typo, just line it out and send it. Never reprint it. Better yet, stick with email.
Look around your company and see how many activities are at least one level removed from something that improves either the effectiveness of the people or the quality of the product. When I refer to 'product' I mean the entire product experience from the customer's perspective, including the delivery, image and channel. Any actitivity that is one level removed removed from your people or your product will ultimately fail or have little benefit... If you're talking to a customer, that's fundamental. But if you're talking *about* customers, you're probably one level removed.
Companies tinker endlessly with the formula for employee compensation. Rarely does this result in happier and more productive employees. The employees direct their energies towards griping and preparing resumes, the managers redirect their energies toward explaining and justifying the new system... The company that focuses on fundamentals will generate enough income to make any compensation plan seem adequate.
A company with a good product rarely needs a Mission Statement. Effective employees will suggest improvements without being on a Quality Team. Nobody will miss the Employee Recognition Committee if the managers are effective and routinely recognize good performance.
A culture of efficiency starts with the everyday things that you can directly control: clothes, meeting lengths, conversations with co-workers, and the like. The way you approach these everyday activities establishes the culture that will drive your fundamental activities.
What message does a
company send when it huddles its managers together for several days to
produce a Mission Statement that sounds like this: "We design integrated
world-class olutions on a worldwide basis."
Answer: It sends a message that the managers can't wrote, can't think, and can't identify priorities.
Managers are obsessed with the 'big picture'... I think the big picture is hiding in the details. It's in the clothes, the office supplies, the casual comments and the coffee. I'm all for working on the big picture, if your know where to find it.
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