Sunday, May 13, 2012

This Week's Book: The Dilbert Principle

About time I read something side-splittingly funny for Book a Week. Seriousness is only good in moderation, as it were. This was a fun one.

May 6-12: The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams

Humour (1996 - 336 pp.) 

The Dilbert Principle, that the most incompetent employees are moved into management positions in order for them to be taken out of the productive flow, is the inspiration for this book. Much of the book consists of old Dilbert comics and emails Scott Adams has received from disgruntled corporate employees sharing their stories. The rest is drawn from Adams's experiences at Pacific Bell, hilarious analogies, and Adams's musings about the working world. Each chapter is about a different aspect of business that you probably were not aware was so funny until you read Dilbert. 

While certain buzzwords and trends are different now from what they were in 1996, the The Dilbert Principle is still very on point. Management has not changed incredibly since then, and many of the botched initiatives the book mentions are things that could just as easily happen today. Whether it is a task force to manage other task forces, delegating justification for an assignment to an employee who was openly opposed to that assignment, or the harsh reality of cubicle life, there are continuing trends in business that make much of Dilbert just as fresh today. 

How educational The Dilbert Principle is depends entirely on your view of modern business. If you feel cynical about it, or perhaps had your free pop revoked, you will certainly find some sympathetic tales. If your job environment is rosier, you may be a little perturbed with some of the more complaining-oriented parts of the book. Every section at least got a smile out of me, with many having me doubling over in laughter. 

Also, Catbert is adorable. As someone who loves cats and loves human resources (I am just that monstrous), he is a furry little guy I can like no matter how horribly he treats the employees. Terrible, I know. 

Ease of Reading: 10 
Educational Content: 3 


On a separate note, here is my favourite early Dilbert comic. It neither appears in the book nor even mentions business, but I think it is a telling commentary of human interaction. Much like The Dilbert Principle, it is still fresh today. 

Draw whatever conclusion you will. I know mine.

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