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I Saw It On Dilbert

Posted by Chuck Csizmar | Posted in Articles, Universal Compensation | Posted on 28-06-2017

Tags: , , , , ,


Dilbert - How To Get Motivated, by Arpit GuptaHere’s a bit of practical advice for every professional out there, whether you’re in Human Resources or frankly any functional department at all.  If you see a work practice or policy highlighted in the Dilbert comic strip (a world of credit to Scott Adams), you should immediately stop that policy or practice as a bad idea.

For the uninitiated out there, since the 1980’s Scott Adams has written about the dysfunctional workplace and its cast of oddball characters that we all recognize.

I used to work for a fellow a number of years ago who had his secretary transcribe his voice mail messages into written text.  He wouldn’t listen to any of his peers/colleagues, never mind lowly little me, that such a practice was – silly/bad/impractical/inefficient/time-wasting, etc.  But when he saw that same practice ridiculed on Dilbert, he stopped that very day.

The World Of Work

Who of us out there cannot identify with the experience of having to work for someone like the “pointy-haired boss?”  Or the co-worker who really doesn’t do anything and always seems to get away with it?

Whether it is Wally the incessant coffee drinking slacker or Dogbert, the HR Director from Hell when these characters suggest a certain course of action I’m usually running in the opposite direction.

Because Dilbert loves to skewer the often ridiculous realities we all seem to face at work.  We can readily identify with the foibles of management, laugh at the meaningless meetings and dysfunctional co-workers, then commiserate with Dilbert himself as the maligned and abused Engineer who keeps trying, day in and day out to keep his sanity in an insane world.


For your entertainment, I have included a few quotes from Scott Adams that relate to the workplace.  You may not agree with everything he says, but he certainly seems to have his hand on the pulse of a commonly mismanaged workforce.

  • “There is no idea so bad that it cannot be made to look brilliant with the proper application of fonts and color.”   Add multiple pages of fluff, lots of colors, a spiral bound booklet and you have the common consultant proposal.
  • “Hard work is rewarding. Taking credit for other people’s hard work is rewarding and faster.” I’ve experienced enough examples of this practice to still get angry at the memories.
  • “The job isn’t done until you’ve blamed someone for the parts that went wrong.”  Finger pointing is a real office skill set, where some players are notoriously Teflon-coated and never seem to face the music.
  • “Be careful that what you write does not offend anybody or cause problems within the company. The safest approach is to remove all useful information.”  Have you ever read an organization’s mission statement?  Or almost anything written by corporate communications?
  • “If you want to kill an idea without being identified as the assassin, suggest that the legal department takes a look at it.”  A good technique for the passive resistor, one who spends more time killing ideas than creating them.
  • “Our system requires a continuous supply of highly capable people who are so disgruntled with their jobs that they are willing to chew off their own arms to escape their bosses.”  So maybe it’s true that employees quit bosses, not organizations.
  • “Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue.”  It rains on everyone.  Those who are successful grab an umbrella and press on.
  • “Lately…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 the place where they can do the least damage: management.”  Haven’t we all seen this?  Don’t we all know someone?  How/why did Bob/Sally get promoted?  They must have photos from the Christmas party or some such inexplicable rationale.

So if you read that Wally or Dilbert or the pointy-haired boss are experiencing a new policy, procedure or work practice, laugh along with them even as you move your own thoughts/practices quickly in the opposite direction.

Consider these characters your “daily work alert.”  They’re more accurate than the weatherman.

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