23 August 2013

Have WWII saboteurs infiltrated your company?

In 1944 the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA) created the formerly secret Simple Sabotage Field Manual [PDF] for OSS operations officers
and resistance organizers living in Axis-occupied countries.

There are tips on physical sabotage common to insurgents, but the list of methods (and desired outcomes) for volunteers to interfere from within organizations reads startlingly like the dark sides of today's American corporate and government workplaces. The common weaknesses of executive and middle management as well as front-line workers (specialists, coordinators, analysts, etc) are clearly evident in this list of
 "universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt a noncooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit...may involve nothing more than creating an unpleasant situation among one's fellow workers, engaging in bickerings, or displaying surliness and stupidity."
In short, it's the Dilbert Principle, as practiced against Nazi occupiers:

(11) General Interference with Organisations and Production 


  • Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration."
  • Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
  • "Misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  • In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
  • When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  • Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
  • Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on.See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  • Apply all regulations to the last letter.
  • Pretend that instructions are hard to understand, and ask to have them repeated more than once. Or pretend that you are particularly anxious to do your work, and pester the foreman with unnecessary questions.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.
  • Snarl up administration in every possible way. Fill out forms illegibly so that they will have to be done over; make mistakes or omit requested information in forms.
  • If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.

(12) General Devices for Lowering Morale and Creating Confusion 


  • Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.
  • Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.
  • Act stupid.
  • Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.
  • Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.

Thanks to WBF for sharing the manual with me.


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