So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook. Scott Adams

If you think you can learn management skills from a character in a newspaper comic strip, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you read Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip before you read the headlines of your local paper, or if you find yourself LOL at most of his cartoons, you have already committed this book to memory and don't need this review.

Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook is a combination of reprinted Dilbert comic strips from the first half of the 1990's and a management handbook written as if it were the work of a cartoon dog named Dogbert. The cartoons are funnier than the handbook. I gave up reading the book linearly and read the cartoons first. Then I went back and read the management handbook.

The cartoons work better because you get to see Scott Adams' view of management both from the manager's point of view and also from that of the dumbfounded workers. It is this juxtaposition of manager logic and worker reality that makes the Dilbert strips so funny.

The text of the handbook is entirely one-sided. You get to see the world from the unrelenting point of view of the demented management expert. The cruel logic is there, but you, the gentle reader, are forced into the role of Dilbert facing the twisted thinking of middle management. You may laugh on the outside, but you may be crying inside. I do not recommend reading this book before spending lots of time with your own manager.

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