Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Sabotage Productivity & Destroy an Organization

By Pascal Dennis

Splendid piece in Business Insider about a recently declassified WWII era guidebook on how civilians might help the Allies win the war.

The secret manual was developed by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s precursor, to help sympathetic civilians cripple Axis power industry.

Here are just some of the organization-killing gems:

Organizations and Conferences
  • Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committee as large as possible — never less than five.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers.
  • Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions.
  • Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  • Work slowly.
  • Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can.
  • Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.
  • At bad organizations, these are almost standard work, no?

Here’s a bit of homework: turn these maxims into an Anti-Productivity Checksheet, and assess your current workplace.

Hopefully, it scores low! If not, head for the hills…

Best regards,


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