Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Thoughts on Management

A post in LinkedIn turned me toward looking for a document. I found it in as

Simple Sabotage Field Manual by United States.
Office of Strategic Services

It was published in 1944 and it is a real gem! You will laugh yourself through it as a manual of how to consider working in large corporations. By all means, do NOT allow non-management people to see this guide, since it might give them some ideas!

A simple summary has tidbits like this:

A few instructions from the 1944 Simple Sabotage Field Manual:

  1. Managers and Supervisors—To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  2. Employees—Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do, instead of a big one.
  3. Organizations and Conferences—When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  4. Telephone—At office, hotel, and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.
  5. Transportation—Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.

You can find  and download the whole thing here:
and I encourage you to NOT waste a lot of your valuable office time reading it. This seems like better bedtime reading, more like a spy novel!

The sections on Managers and Employees – on pages 33 and 34 — is a hoot! So, I repeat some of that content here:

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(b) Managers and Supervisors 

(1) Demand written orders.

(2) “Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.

(3) Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don’t deliver it until it is completely ready.

(4) 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.

(5) Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don’t get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.

(6) In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.

(7) Insist on perfect work in relatively un­important products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.

(8) Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.

(9) When training new workers, give in­ complete or misleading instructions.

(10) 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.

(11) Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done 

 (d) Employees 

(1) Work slowly. Think out ways to in­ crease the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed, and so on.

(2) Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or punch, take needless time to do it. If you are cutting, shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary. Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.

(3) Even if you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.

(4) 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.

(5) Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.

(6) Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

(7) 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.

(8) 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.

(9) Misroute materials.

(10) Mix good parts with unusable scrap and rejected parts.

Yeah, we can have real fun with this, identifying current “best practices” within your organization and looking for those strategies and skills currently being tested!

Have fun out there!


Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
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  1. Milan

    That Sabotage Manual was unbearably hilarious.Thanks Scot. Using a few dozen moths to obscure the propaganda film, literally split my sides. Needless to add ‘General Interference with Organizations and Production’ took the cake. World-war is over and occupation armies have left. However it seems many employees still do not know!!!

  2. Scott, I can think of more than one leader, and more than one organization that appear to follow this manual to the letter!! Are we sure this has been declassified?

  3. There is a very interesting comparison of WalMart and CostCo here, showing the differences in salaries and compensation and benefits –

    In part:
    Average Cashier Salary
    Walmart: $8.53 versus Costco: $15.60 [Glassdoor]

    Average Pay For Low-Level Managerial Position
    Walmart: $44,774 versus Costco: $53,956

    Number Of Employees Receiving Health Insurance Coverage
    Walmart: “more than half” of employees versus Costco: 88% of employees [Businessweek]

    One might guess that Costco has fewer issues in their stores.

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