The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong Paperback – Illustrated, 25 October 2011
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"Ruefully delightful ... excruciatingly applicable--and fun to read"--Playboy
"The Peter Principle has cosmic implications."--The New York Times
From the Back Cover
The classic #1 New York Times bestseller that answers the age-old question
Why is incompetence so maddeningly rampant and so vexingly triumphant?
The Peter Principle, the eponymous law Dr. Laurence J. Peter coined, explains that everyone in a hierarchy--from the office intern to the CEO, from the low-level civil servant to a nation's president--will inevitably rise to his or her level of incompetence. Dr. Peter explains why incompetence is at the root of everything we endeavor to do--why schools bestow ignorance, why governments condone anarchy, why courts dispense injustice, why prosperity causes unhappiness, and why utopian plans never generate utopias.
With the wit of Mark Twain, the psychological acuity of Sigmund Freud, and the theoretical impact of Isaac Newton, Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull's The Peter Principle brilliantly explains how incompetence and its accompanying symptoms, syndromes, and remedies define the world and the work we do in it.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I will confess there were times I was laughing out loud and other times a feeling of dread came over me while reading it. Peter and Hull nail it, and they do so in a humorous way. Anyone who is looking for a promotion should read this book. In fact, if you have been turned down for promotion, you should read this book. The book is very funny while being extremely candid.
It portraits the hierarchical nature of the workplace environment making use of machiavellian and satirical
It contains several pearls of wisdom and provides a looking glass into human nature and the nature of the workplace environment that I could (and Im sure most people will also) be able to relate to.
In some cases, the advice provided is quite straight forward, and in other cases, the descriptions have wonderfully
confirmed what I already believed to be true, not only by observing my reality working for 20 years on a
multinational corporation, but also by listening to stories of friends who work for the government. Sadly I must
attest to the fact that both environments suffer from the exact same maladies the book describes. Human flaws
like mediocrity, conformity, selfishness and self-preservation instinct help create the conditions the book
Overall it is an easy and refreshing read that you can finish in a day and from which you can gain
multiple insights about what it means to be working under a hierarchical structure and wishing to
advance your carerr by getting promoted.
Highly recommended for the one beginning his/her professional journey, and even for the seasoned
professional that somehow still retains a "Pollyana" view about how the workplace environment works.
Peter classified incompetence in 4 categories and how they manifest themselves:
1. Physical incompetence. This is what we usually focus on,
2. Social incompetence,
3. Emotional incompetence, and
4. Mental incompetence.
Usually we try to fix the physical incompetence by bringing more resources particularly HR. Then we progressively create what the author refers to as the Peter Spiral. We ended of creating the other incompetence and find ourselves with several people that have reached the Peter's Plateau and has a Promotion Quotient of zero.
Once a manager/leader reached the Peter's Plateau, instead of carrying out his or her duties, he or she found substitution techniques. For example he or she delays decisions making through:
- Downward Buckpass: a subordinate is asked to decide an issue that is really above his level of responsibility,
- Upward Buckpass: examine the case until he finds some tiny point which will justify sending it to a higher level, and
- Outward Buckpass: assemble a committee and follow majority vote.
When you show the above signs frequently, the person was promoted beyond his level of competence and has reached the Peter's Plateau.
The good news is that there are remedies. Some of these remedies can be taken by individuals and some of them by organisations. When these remedies are well applied, most people will work at their level of competence and society as a whole will benefit.
This book is a must read for HR professionals and leaders in all organisations.