As World War II neared its end, America’s forerunner to the CIA, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), crafted and circulated the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. This guide equipped defectors from the German Reich with strategies and hands-on advice to disrupt the German war effort through sabotage.
Beyond the expected sabotage methods like damaging equipment, the manual includes a section detailing covert workplace acts, specifically designed to cause frustration, delays, and inefficiencies.
Now declassified, this document offers more than historical insight; it paints a striking picture of tendencies we observe in numerous corporations today. Here’s your blueprint for fostering organizational dysfunction:
- 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. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
- 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.
⠀ If this seems overwhelming or beyond your role, consider this:
- Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products
- When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions… Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.
- 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.
- Don’t order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
- In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
⠀ Does that ring a bell? It’s ironic how prevalent workplace nuisances align with a sabotage manual.
The next time you spot such behavior, point it out. That is, unless sabotage is your actual goal… 😏