Dilbert and hypocrisy

I noticed this on page 42 of the recent Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2010 supplement.


It made me chuckle as it reminded me of an incident some time ago when I was asked to create a communications plan for a project that had no apparent project plan.

But now that I’ve shared this with you I’m feeling a bit grubby. I’m feeling guiltier than a blackcurrant knocking back a glass of Ribena – and I’m feeling the need to issue a bit of a disclaimer.

The thing is, I’ve never been a huge Dilbert fan as I think it’s all so depressingly negative. Don’t get me wrong, it can be very funny – if you think about it, lots of humour is depressingly negative.

Dilbert is a passenger. He stands there seemingly powerless to do anything positive or fix anything. All he does is mock the bleeding obvious. I reckon Dilbert fans identify with his frustrations and think that sharing a regular comic strip with their colleagues, apart from being funny, is their contribution to making things better. Actually what they are really doing is copying Dilbert’s impotence and inaction.

I’d wager that the spirit of Dilbert thrives most in organisations where people feel undervalued, ignored and doing meaningless work. If I were conducting cultural due diligence on a company, I’d just walk around the offices and count how many Dilbert strips are hanging off the walls.

That’s why I feel a bit grubby. But I can live with myself as I have at least gone to the effort of explaining my apparent hypocrisy.  And I did subsequently make a positive contribution to the production of the project plan I required on which to hang my comms plan, without taking the piss out of the project manager.

2 thoughts on “Dilbert and hypocrisy

  1. You may think Dilbert is the embodiment of “the disengaged worker”. But that doesn’t do Dilbert justice–the Dilbert character is essentially a passive-aggressive saboteur, actively undermining the organization that pays him through snarky comments. Does his organization deserve it–perhaps, if for no reason than by keeping this clown on the payroll, or by the equally clownish attempts portrayed to “engage” him.

    Noting the Dilbert strips on the walls in an office? A great idea. But before trying to “engage” those who’ve posted them, an honest conversation about what they’re pissed off about–and what they can do about those issues, may be a more effective next step.

    Mike Klein–The Intersection

  2. “Does his organization deserve it – perhaps, if for no reason than by keeping this clown on the payroll” Priceless stuff Mike, thanks!

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