Monday, November 08, 2010

Scott Adams On Bad Management

Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, wrote a hilarious piece in this past weekend's Wall Street Journal. He traced his own career from first part-time jobs to the one he held at Pacific Telephone, before finally relying on his published comics for financial independence.

What really struck me about his story was that, twice, he was told he could not be promoted because he was a white male, and his company's management(s) could not afford the risk of media criticism for more such promotions.

One of those companies was Pac Tel. I, too, was victimized in that fashion early in my career. At AT&T, of which Pac Tel was a subsidiary.

Adams writes that when informed of his second non-promotion, for reasons of race and gender,

"that was the day the "Dilbert" comic strip was born, although I had not yet drawn one. Let's call it a tipping point."

He then spends the rest of the piece discussing how those sorts of experiences create entrepreneurial motivations in otherwise-ordinary employees.

I'm just surprised that firms in back in that era couldn't comprehend the effects on morale, motivations and loyalty by simply notifying middle-management white males that they could forget being promoted.

There may not be as many EEOC lawsuits and as much interference in the promotion policies of corporate America, but I think management is, on balance, as deaf and blind as ever to what motivates their employees.

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