Daily Dilbert

Today’s Dilbert

The Dilbert Principle

One of the most popular pages on Electronics Weekly is the long-running Dilbert, by Scott Adams.

Most of the Dilbert strips involve bizarre and absurd workplace situations, and yet apparently the comment that he most often hears is: “It’s just like my company”.

Adams, who spent a number of years working in a cubicle himself, at Pacific Bell, writes:

It’s not the business world that brings out our idiocy, but it might be the place where we notice it the most. In our personal lives we tolerate bizarre behaviour. It even seems normal. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at your family members.) But at work we think everyone should be guided by logic and rational thinking. Any absurdity in a business setting stands out like a dead nun in a snowbank. I’m convinced that the workplace doesn’t contain more absurdity than everyday life, but the absurdity is definitely more noticeable.

I find great humour in the fact that we take ever take ourselves seriously. We rarely recognise our own idiocies, yet we can clearly identify the idiocies of others. That’s the central tension of business: We expect other to act rationally even though we are irrational.

These words are from the introduction of his most famous book ‘The Dilbert Principle’. But what is exactly the Dilbert principle?

Adams humorously suggests that the days of The Peter Principle – where people are promoted to a level above their competence, at which they will remain – was actually a Golden Age. These people were veterans of the business, for better or for worse, and had at least been competent at some point in their career.

The more cynical Dilbert Principle, by contrast, states that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management!

Anyway, enough of the theory. Let’s have a popularity vote. Which is the favourite Dilbert character of Electronics Weekly readers?

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