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The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions Hardcover – April 18, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

You loved the comic strip; now read the business advice.

Or should that be anti-business advice? Scott Adams provides the hapless victim of re-engineering, rightsizing and Total Quality Management some strategies for fighting back, er, coping. Forced to work long hours, with no hope of a raise? Adams offers tips on maintaining parity in compensation. Along the way, Adams explains what ISO 9000 really is and assesses the irresistibility of female engineers.

The breath-taking cynicism of the strip should prepare readers for the author's no-holds-barred attack on management fads, large organizations, pointless bureaucracy and sadistic rule-makers who glory in control of office supplies. Readers of the on-line Dilbert Newsletter are familiar with the kind of e-mail Adams receives from his readers -- and may even have sent a few of those missives themselves. Along with illustrative strips, e-mail messages provide excruciating examples of corporate behavior which compel the reader to agree with Adams when he insists that "People are idiots".

The final chapter offers a model for would-be successful businesses to follow: the OA5 model. It's introduced with little fanfare, no outrageous promises and just the right amount of self-deprecation.

From Library Journal

Adams worked in a cubicle at Pacific Bell for nine years. From there he went on to pen the wildly popular cartoon Dilbert, which appears in over 700 newspapers. He is also the author of six Dilbert books (e.g., Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy, Andrews & McMeel, 1995) and an electronic Dilbert newsletter, has a Web site on the Internet, and is a frequent speaker at business gatherings. His latest book of humorous essays and observations elaborates on the corporate scenarios depicted in his cartoons. The "Dilbert Principle" asserts that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. Chapters include such titles as "Machiavellian Methods," "Pretending To Work," and "Engineers, Scientists, Programmers, and Other Odd People." The book is replete with such advice as "Never walk down the hall without a document in your hand" and "The worth of any project is how it will sound on your resume." He stresses the importance of using the word paradigm as often as possible, discusses the value of computers in pretending to be busy, and recommends that workers awaiting performance reviews openly display copies of Soldier of Fortune magazine on their desks. This cynical, satirical, all-too-familiar glimpse of corporate life is unabashed management bashing and is very funny. Recommended for all humor and business collections.?Alan Farber, Northern Illinois Univ., DeKalb
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper-Collins; 1st edition (April 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887307876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887307874
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Courtland J. Carpenter VINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've worked as an engineer or technician, both for big companies and small. Before Dilbert, in all but the most restrictive environments, a small office underground poked the same kind of fun at management. Some offices even have their own cartoonists. A mega-sized company in Texas had a talented, cartoon artist, who did satirical office cartoons, with great caricature likenesses. He signed his work "The Phantom", and because I think even management knew who he was, he stayed restrained enough to keep it funny, but not too insulting. One possible exception, was a cartoon that mimicked the classic road gang movie, "Cool Hand Luke". He depicted an office corridor which as management walked by each office, they would say "Still shaking that work order there, boss". It did not go over too well with management.
The Dilbert Principle is loosely based on the long discussed phenomena, called the "Peter Principle". Which I always thought means the biggest "prick" rises the highest. Usually it's the most unqualified as well. In this age we pay CEO's millions in salary, and then give them massive stock options. In return, they bankrupt the company with shady accounting practices, and sometimes, outright theft. You have to wonder if the term "business ethics" is an oxymoron. It's good that most offices have people like Dilbert, and we all have artists like Scott Adams. The humor allows many of us to survive the droll, office existence day after day. The unrewarding existence, of working in a system where incompetents profit, often on our good works.
Prior to Dilbert, I may have considered myself unique, or just unlucky to be employed by some of these bozo's in suit and tie. I've been through the improvement meetings, sensitivity, and those focus groups.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on September 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
If there's a mascot for Internet users, it's the nerdy engineer Dilbert from Scott Adams' comic strip of the same name. No other character in the mass media combines the feelings of technological superiority and wage-slave hopelessness present in the lives of most computer users. But the play of computer users versus management is only part of Adams' comic ouevre; his hilarious take on everyday blue-collar workers touches not only on computer use in companies, but the combined forces of Total Quality Management, endless meetings, doughnuts, cubicles, business plans, and all the other aspects of working in a modern office. Although most of Adams' strips play on the plight of the nameless cubicle worker against an uncaring and oblivious management, he also covers the flip side of work where managers are unable to motivate employees beyond using the office LAN for Doom and the fine art of making sleep look like work. Given all of this familiarity with business, and the increasing popularity of business books, it makes sense that Adams' most recent book, The Dilbert Principle isn't a collection of Dilbert strips but a incisive look at the frailty and foibles of self-help management books under the guise of being one itself.
Business books were overdue to move from the bestseller list to the parody shelf. What was once simply just a few "feel-good"self-help psychology books for managers like Stephen R.Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Kenneth Blanchard's The One Minute Manager is now a plague, including books like The Management Secrets of Attila the Hun and The Star Trek Guide to Management.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My work involves helping company leaders identify the causes of "stalled" thinking in the organization. What impresses me about this book is how many of the causes Scott Adams has identified. The man is clearly a great observer of organizations. His crusade against "stalled" thinking (especially by the leaders) also means that others with keen insights send him their observations, as well. Future historians of the American corporation would do better to start with Scott Adams than most of the organizational theory and practice business books that have been written. His humor is excellent, because he is unerring in picking the right balloon to prick. As a management consultant, I regularly reread his chapter on management consultants to be sure that I am not behaving like the ones he describes. Keep these wonderful books and comic strips coming! Be sure to post the strips where they will get the most attention. Maybe you will help someone wake up in your leadership!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Gumeta on December 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I used to work for my native country's Tax Collection Authority and thought that all the management antics and sheer madness I witnessed -and many times I participated in- were exclusive to my organisation because it was a) a government office, and b) in a developing country. After three years I just couldn't take any more and left to do my PhD in the UK studying Information Technologies in bureaucratic organisations. I started reading Max Weber's classic writings on bureaucracy and some other scholarly works on the same topic, that drew from a number of theories ranging from rationality to institutional theory and Foucault on power and authority, which I found quite unconvincing. Then I came across "the Dilbert principle" in a second hand shop, bought it and couldn't put it down for three consecutive days. When I was done I realised that the management follies I experienced in my country were in fact the rule in most companies in the USA -and perhaps in the western world. I didn't know whether to laugh out loud or to cry, because this supposedly humorous book questions the very underlying assumptions of mainstream organisational theories (e.g., rational choice theory) using empirical evidence that is practically impossible to neglect, as most of us people who have worked can confirm. I'm delighted I found this book early in my PhD.
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