Scott Adams

HarperBusiness, 2002, 350 pp., ISBN 0-06-051805-7

Some real funny stuff and some long dry spells.  Cynicism begins to wear on you after awhile.


The Weasel Zone is the giant gray area between good moral behavior and outright criminality.


The Dilbert Principle summarized:  “A retarded chimpanzee can drink a case of beer and still perform most management functions.” (1)


“In the Weasel Zone everything is misleading, but not exactly a lie.  There’s a subtle difference.” (5)


“You might have noticed that tasks tend to ‘manage themselves’ if given enough time.  By that I mean that you can ignore almost everything that is asked of you and in the long run it won’t matter.  Either the tasks will become moot or your boss will forget what he asked you to do, or someone else will do it.” (12)


“Never say it will ‘be too much work’ or ‘takes too long’ because those sound exactly like “No problem” to everyone who doesn’t need to do the work.” (20)


“If you spend all of your time arguing with people who are nuts, you’ll be exhausted and the nuts will still be nuts.” (38)


“Managers have an effective system of checks and balances so that bad numbers can be corrected by using faulty assumptions and poor logic.” (39)


“Nothing is more dangerous than a boss with a spreadsheet.” (40)


“If you take a bunch of ignorance and mix it with PowerPoint charts, you get weasel knowledge.  Weasel knowledge is to actual knowledge what a painting of a diamond is to the actual diamond.” (58)


“The sort of research I have come to rely on [is] i.e., overhearing a snippet of a conversation, generalizing it beyond all reasonableness, forgetting the source, and arguing forcefully that it is an established fact.” (68)


“If your company sells a product that people need, there’s almost nothing you can do to stop them from trying to give you money.” (78)


“When you lie about the future, that’s called optimism, and it is considered a virtue.” (83)


“The thing to remember about forecasts is that no one expects you to be accurate.  So there’s no need to knock yourself out with meaningless tasks such as gathering data or thinking before you speak.” (84)


“Being a midlevel manager is like being a fisherman, except instead of having an efficient fishing tool, such as a fishing pole or a net or dynamite, you have to talk the fish into surrendering.   ...you end up shouting slogans about teamwork and excellence into the water and hoping for the best.” (90)


“There is a special word for bosses who care about their employees: unemployed.” “If a boss starts caring about employees, it screws up the whole oppressor-victim dynamic of capitalism.”  (97-8)


Good Things to Be Doing

·        See the big picture

·        Line up the Ducks

·        Get on the same page

·        Move the goal posts

·        Put it on the back/front burner

·        Touch base

·        Dip our toes in the water

·        Table it for later

·        Get a handle on it

·        Build a straw man

·        Get more bang for your buck

·        Take it and run with it

·        Make a no-brainer decision

·        Set aggressive but achievable goals

·        Keep ahead of the game

   And so on (127)


Things You Don’t Want to Do

·        Reinvent the wheel

·        Miss the window of opportunity

·        Raise a red flag

·        Shuffle the deck chairs

·        Jump on the grenade

·        Make a career-limited move

·        Fall on the sword (128)


“We must develop knowledge optimization initiatives to leverage our key learnings.” (129)


“A good all-purpose phrase that you can interject in almost any business conversation is ‘This is not rocket science.’  Another good utility phrase is ‘I use the eighty/twenty rule.’”  “You can disguise almost any level of ignorance via the clever use of weasel vocabulary.  Try memorizing the words on this list and using them in alphabetical order the way they are shown here.”  (129)


Business Weasel Words

·        Accountable

·        Action item

·        Alignment

·        Applications

·        Architecture

·        Ballpark

·        Bells and whistles

·        Benchmark

·        Best practice

·        Bottom line

·        Brand equity

·        Bread and butter

·        Breakthrough products

·        B2B

·        Business units

... (130)


“Sometimes large companies have safety departments.  This is one of the greatest weasel jobs of all time because safety is an ambiguous weasel word that leaves plenty of wiggle room.  Almost anything can kill you if you eat it, sit on it, trip over it, or set it on fire.”  ‘Just look around your cubicle and find something that could kill a person under the right conditions.  Then schedule a training class to teach people not to, for example, sit on pencils, lick electrical outlets, and ....”  You might even make up some statistics: 


“According to the National Bureau of Dangerous Items, three thousand employees per year die from premature binder snapping.” (168-9)


“Marketing is a dark science devoted to making people want things they don’t need.  It’s second on the list of Top Ten All-Time Evils.” (187)


“Step one in marketing is to do research to learn what customers want.  Step two is to ignore what people want and try to package whatever it is that your company knows how to make.  That’s called product development.” (188)


“The normal situation is that a company squints and strains and grunts out whatever its disinterested employees are capable of producing.  Then the marketing people put a bow on it and tell the unsuspecting public that it’s exactly what they want.” (188)


“If you want a customer to buy a little bit of whatever you’re selling, you need to communicate the merits of your product in a clear and simple way.  But if you want customers to buy vast quantities of your product, then it’s a good idea to thoroughly mislead them.  To do that you’ll need a brochure.” (193)


“Advertising is different from lying because no one is expected to believe advertisements, except for extremely gullible people.” (194)


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