The Laws of Life 3

The Dilbert Principle

Scott Adams

“The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.” This was coined by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strips. I have seen this manifested in my life of people promoted to managerial positions. In 1996, Scott Adams, also an MBA graduate from Berkeley, wrote a book named The Dilbert Priniciple (Amazon link) which, while satirical in intent, is often recommended or required reading at many business schools, and has sold more than a million copies and was a New York Times bestseller for the better part of a year. This is very closely related to …

The Peter Principle

Laurence J. Peter

This is the idea that all employees will rise to the level of their own incompetence. It is apt, since what do organizations do with their best employees? They promote them to management. But it becomes a very different job, not a job which uses the skills that made them so great at the previous job. While the Peter Principle allows that management were at least competent at their previous job; the Dilbert Principle allows for the possibility that management is formed out of a need for damage control. The Peter Principle (direct PDF link), a book co-written by Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990) and Raymond Hull, is the 1969 book which first came up with this.