Thursday, March 12, 2009

Way of the CEO Weasel

Have been reading Scott Adam's "Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel" (thanks Dr. Alex for this) this week and apart from the much needed laughs, I was struck by the truths in this book! No wonder Scott Adam's books and comic strips are bestsellers.

What was scary was the "prophetic" nature of this book. His description of the CEO Weasels to me is really descriptive (and insightful) of what caused the US economic disaster that has led to our current world wide recession. Of course I am not an economist and I KNOW I am over simplifying matters :-) but I think he does boil things down to terms that even I can understand! BTW he did not predict the economic crisis but if he did would be selling even more copies of his book!

Some fun excerpts (oh the joy of a scanner with built in OCR!!):-)

As CEO, be sure to take control of the board of directors. Maneuver your buddies into any openings and conspire to kick off anyone who might be a threat to your compensation. Recom­mend a big increase in pay for directors. They'll return the favor later by voting for a huge compensation package for you. As a general rule, it's good to have the sort of job where you can rec­ommend pay increases for the people who recommend pay increases for you.

You'll need some sort of cover story for why you should get ten thousand times more than the average worker in your company. The best excuse is that much of your pay is "at risk" in the form of stock options, whereas the minimum-wage employee is pretty much guaranteed his poverty-level paycheck, at least you downsize him to increase the value of your stock options. But you don't need to mention that last part.

The great thing about stock options is that they don't need to be valuable forever - just long enough for you to cash them out. CEO you only need the stock to appreciate once during reign and you'll be rich for life. You can make that happen firing a bunch of people after your options vest. Wall Street loves cost cutting. If that doesn't work, try merging with someone. If that doesn't work, just lie about your company's future. There's no law against optimism.

After you've settled into your new job as CEO, you need to continue the illusion of being worth ten thousand times more than your average employee. To do that, you need to implement a program with an impressive-sounding name such as .. Six Sigma!,

CEO Exit Strategy

If, despite all your random reorganizations and selfish actions, the company continues to do poorly, and you've already cashed out a lot of your stock options during one of the up years, you might have some pressure on you from stockholders. They will be clambering for a new CEO who can write off your mistakes and do some mergers to get the stock price up again. Since you know that the stock will probably go up again no matter who is CEO, you want to postpone your demise long enough to be when it happens and get another unearned truckload of cash you're in the midst of downsizing and salary freezes, volunteer to share the pain, like this:

Seems to me that the bottom line is that it simply boils down to greed. The best financial plan or management structure means nothing if weasels are in charge. And if we are all more or less following "the way of the weasel" no matter where we are in the organizational hierarchy? God help us!

Crazy as it sounds, Scott Adams is right when he describes the Weasel Zone as follows:

There's a gigantic gray area between good moral behaviour and outright felonius activities. I call that ther Weasel Zone and it's where most of life happens. In the Weasel Zone everything is misleading, but not exactly a lie.... (I won't go on as I do not fully agree with the rest of his description - I am more "optimistic" than he is :-)

For me the way of the weasel is a clear manifestation of our sinful nature. It's things like the tendency we have to look out for "number one", refusal (or reluctance to admit mistakes / faults), putting the blame on others when we mess up, issues of pride, rationalizing away our inadequacies and screw ups and shudder its basically "creative sinning"! (I think there is such a thing!)

What is scary is that while I do try and be careful, I see some hints of "weaseliness" (okay, this may not be an actual word) in me. Of course I see it more in others! LOL!! Okay, just kidding!!
Hmmm... lots to think about!

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