Scott Adams – Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook

Why did I choose to read the book?

Easy, I really like Scott Adams’ Dilbert strip and I found the book on sale by chance.

What is it about?

As described on the book’s back:

Dogbert reveals the many vital skills needed by managers in their daily lives, including:

  • Pretending to care – learn how to hear without listening
  • Competition – experience the joy of setting your people against one another
  • Making decisions – be a leader without making any decisions
  • Incentives – inspire employees by giving them worthless knickknacks.

As is expected, both by the nature of the book and the books description above, this book is satire. If you now the Dilbert character Dogbert, a very smart and somewhat sociopathic dog and some of his misadventures, you will know what awaits you in this book. It is written from Dogbert viewpoint and details his wisdom on how to become a “well paid unthinking corporate zombie”.

How did I like the book?

Brilliant. From the first page, it is making fun of the corporate world and it’s absurdities. In some places, good management advice is being taken, flipped on it’s head by Dogbert sociopathic nature and turned into hilarious advice on how to seem more productive and successful. Also, the comic strips sprinkled in between the texts, are great and drive home some of the points being made. All in all, if you are up for something funny, give it a try.

Four stages of competence

Found this to reflect my Japanese studies quite well.
Turns out I am at stage 2, which is extremely depressing.
  1. Unconscious incompetence The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
  2. Conscious incompetence Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
  3. Conscious competence The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
  4. Unconscious competence The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.