Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Peter Principle

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.” Peter Principle

Posted on November 17, 2014

You keep being promoted beyond your level of confidence

Published nearly a half-century ago, the book is now a refreshing tonic for all the feel-good, impossibly Pollyannaish management wisdom being passed around.

The Peter Principle is named after Laurence J. Peter, a prominent Canadian scholar of education, who began to lecture about it, and was finally egged on to write in more detail about it.

Rather than penning a scholarly tract, he offered up a straight-faced satirical treatment. It’s as if the book were being narrated by Leslie Nielsen circa “Airplane.”

Let’s allow Peter, from the introduction to his book, to have the final word:

If man is going to rescue himself from a future intolerable existence, he must first see where his unmindful escalation is leading him. He must examine his objectives and see that true progress is achieved through moving forward to a better way of life, rather than upward to total life incompetence.

Man must realize that improvement of the quality of experience is more important than the acquisition of useless artifacts and material possessions.

He must reassess the meaning of life and decide whether he will use his intellect and technology for the preservation of the human race and the development of the humanistic characteristics of man, or whether he will continue to utilize his creative potential in escalating a super-colossal death-trap.

On occasion, Man has caught a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror, and not immediately recognizing himself, has begun to laugh before realizing what he was doing. It is in such moments that true progress toward understanding has occurred.

Seth Godin posted on November 11, 2014

A Peter Corollary

The original Peter Principle made perfect sense for the industrial age: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.”

Institutions (public or for profit) keep promoting people up the organization until the people they promote reach a job where they are now incompetent.

Competence compounded until it turns into widespread incompentence.

Industrial organizations are built on competence, and the Peter Principle describes their undoing.

Consider a corollary, one for our times:

To be promoted beyond your level of confidence.”

Too often, the person who wrecks our work is us.

In every modern organization with upward mobility, good people are promoted until they get to the point where they lose their nerve.

You can check out the original Peter Principle here.

Note: It makes perfect sense. How can any one promoted to chief, through a hierarchy, is able to stay abreast of new knowledge and technology while squeezed under heavy stress?

That is why sabbaticals were established (especially in academia) in order to allow people in the profession to take a healthy break from the humdrum of daily activities and get updated on the quality of experiences he had witnessed.

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 213

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

The best approach to explain the succession of civilizations and Empires in the Fertile Crescent (in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria or Phoenicia, Canaan, Aram) that raided and conquered the Near East civilizations is the analogy of survival among the lions and lionesses empires or warlike empires versus settled and wealthy empires.

Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, stated at the annual Dinner of Francis Boyer Lecture of The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on December 5, 1996:

“Augmenting concerns about the Federal Reserve is the perception that we are a secretive organization, operating behind closed doors, not always in the interests of the nation as a whole. This is regrettable, and we continuously strive to alter this mis-perception.”

Quinoa, drought-resistant crop, contains a toxic compound called saponins, a bitter component that’s used by the plant to ward off predators. It isn’t actually a grain (it’s part of the goosefoot family, related to spinach and beets. Protein content of quinoa is 18% versus 8% in rice

Toxic compound called saponins in Quinoa needs to be removed before consumption, which can be accomplished by polishing or washing the grain, which makes processing it expensive. (The polishing process also reduces the fiber of the grain, lowering its protein, vitamin, and mineral levels).

“The Peter principle” applies to all public institutions when any employee in a hierarchy rises to the level of his or her own incompetence.

Ca ne vaut rien d’insister pour que quelqu’un voit la realite’ en face: l’important est d’avoir un sourire serain aux levres

Si notre imagination est puissante de se souvenir des bons moments, les mauvais ne formeront que de reperes et contrastes

Je passe le plus clair de mon temps a l’obscurcir

Quand on se prend pour quelqu’un, on oublit qu’on fond on est plusieurs.

Keef mouhemmet al majless badha tetghayyar, wa Nabih Berry 3ala ra2ssa? 60 naayeb ra7 ye fel, wa 60 naayeb jaayeen 3ala al akeed, baynaathom wlaad al “zou3ama”.

3am befteker bi yalli ra7ou: kaanou shabab bi waktha

Al khetyaar bi shouf jhannam: fa2ad al amal bil ta3afi

These Principles are Not for problem solving: Just how people behave on Average

Many articles and books have been published for every single one of these principles, effects and laws.

I stumbled on a term-paper that a student of mine submitted in 2002 for the course of Human Factors in Engineering and I said: Why not? It is a good topic to post

Most of these principles were formulated by psychology researchers and they are good guidelines of what to expect in pitfalls and erroneous judgement when designing for people usage.

These laws and principles cannot be classified as rules for solving problems as is commonly misunderstood in natural sciences.

Many of these principles were the results of experiments with failed hypothesis because they were not tightly controlled.

Basically, if you know how average people behave in your community, you can design for effective results

Consequently, the first critical phase in any project is to comprehend the idiosyncrasies of the particular community in order to design valid solutions

First, check the ones you have already heard of, or read about in your course works.

  1. Hawthorn Effect
  2. Placebo Effect
  3. Occam’s razor
  4. Peter principle
  5. Parkinson’s Law
  6. Murphy’s law
  7. Pareto Principle
  8. Rule of Redundant systems
  9. Zeigarnik Effect
  10. Contrast principle
  11. Cognitive Dissonance
  12. Perceptual Consistency
  13. Turnpike Effect

Actually, last year I read a book “How to think clear” and it developed on many of these biases and effects. I reviewed many of the chapters.

Hawthorn Effect

The motivated people have greater effect than the solution presented to resolve a problem.

In the mid 1930’s a vast experiment involved thousands of employees who were supposed to ignore that an experiment is taking place. It turned out that the employees got wind and overdid their best at work. An example of an experiment that was not very well controlled.

Placebo Effect

A harmless with No pharmacological effects may make sick people feeling better if they were told the medicine is part of the cure.

Apparently, placebo has positive effect even though the sick person was told that it is a harmless medicine. (Maybe the sick person doesn’t really believe what he was told?)

William of Occam’s razor

The explanation with the fewest assumptions is the correct alternative in most cases

Peter principle

Employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. When a competent employee rises to a higher level of complexities then they fall back to an incompetent job where they are not positioned to fill.

Parkinson’s law:

Work expands to fill the time allotted to it: The procrastination effect.

Any work must be subdivided to last a definite time span so that the entire project is finished according to a timetable and on schedule.

Give a student a project that can be done within a few days and he will gladly leave it to the last minutes after a few months for the scheduled time for presentation.

Murphy’s law

If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. We tend not to expect what we think is an unexpected event or behaviour.

Pareto Principle

A small fraction of people do most of the job. The wealthiest are a tiny fraction of the total population. A fraction of the items sold generate most of the profit or revenue.

Rule of Redundant systems

Every critical system requires a redundant backup system

Zeigarnik Effect

We prefer to have a closure on a task before starting another one. Handling simultaneous tasks is difficult for most people and they are upset when they are asked to interrupt a job in midstream in order to tend to another job.

Contrast principle

The last event in a stream of successive events is retained and valued more than any of the other events. If the latest person seemed nice, he is viewed as nicer than he is. A good suggestion offered after a series of bad suggestions feels better than it is.

Cognitive Dissonance

Hearing about a crime committed creates a dissonance in the belief system of morality and justice and the event that occurred.

If we believe that a certain event should not happen then we tend to find fault in the victim.

Perceptual Consistency

We tend to pigeon-hole people and circumstances into simple generalized entities.

Turnpike Effect

The availability of unforeseen utility of a resource or facility generates greater use than was predicted.

Improve the road condition of a side route and people will drive on it more frequently than expected.

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.” Peter Principle

You keep being promoted beyond your level of confidence

Published nearly a half-century ago, the book is now a refreshing tonic for all the feel-good, impossibly Pollyannaish management wisdom being passed around.

The Peter Principle is named after Laurence J. Peter, a prominent Canadian scholar of education, who noticed it, began to lecture about it, and was finally egged on to write in more detail about it.

Rather than penning a scholarly tract, he offered up a straight-faced satirical treatment. It’s as if the book were being narrated by Leslie Nielsen circa “Airplane.”

Let’s allow Peter, from the introduction to his book, to have the final word:

If man is going to rescue himself from a future intolerable existence, he must first see where his unmindful escalation is leading him. He must examine his objectives and see that true progress is achieved through moving forward to a better way of life, rather than upward to total life incompetence.

Man must realize that improvement of the quality of experience is more important than the acquisition of useless artifacts and material possessions.

He must reassess the meaning of life and decide whether he will use his intellect and technology for the preservation of the human race and the development of the humanistic characteristics of man, or whether he will continue to utilize his creative potential in escalating a super-colossal death-trap.

On occasion, Man has caught a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror, and not immediately recognizing himself, has begun to laugh before realizing what he was doing. It is in such moments that true progress toward understanding has occurred.

Seth Godin posted on November 11, 2014

A Peter Corollary

The original Peter Principle made perfect sense for the industrial age: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.”

In other words, organizations keep promoting people up the organization until the people they promote reach a job where they are now incompetent.

Competence compounded until it turns into widespread incompentence.

Industrial organizations are built on competence, and the Peter Principle describes their undoing.

Consider a corollary, one for our times:

To be promoted beyond your level of confidence.”

Too often, the person who wrecks our work is us.

In every modern organization with upward mobility, good people are promoted until they get to the point where they lose their nerve.

You can check out the original Peter Principle here.

Note: It makes perfect sense. How can any one promoted to chief through a hierarchy is able to stay abreast of new knowledge and technology while squeezed under heavy stress?

That is why sabbaticals were innovated in order to allow people in the profession to take a healthy break from the humdrum of daily activities and get updated on the quality of experiences he had witnessed.


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