Posted on | October 10, 2012 | 13 Comments
“Mother, do not wonder that my loyalty is growing weak. . . . I am sick and tired of the disaster and the fools that bring disaster upon us.”
– soldier in the 79th New York Infantry regiment, 1863
The cartoon strip “Dilbert” is popular because it relates an experience common to nearly everyone who has ever worked inside a dysfunctional workplace: A clueless boss, backstabbing colleagues, and the plight of the competent, hard-working guy who is just trying to do his job.
What we call “office politics” is a constant hindrance to effective teamwork. It is unfortunate that so often people are both incompetent and ambitious, that such creatures seek positions of authority for which they are not qualified, and that once they obtain these positions, the incompetents “bring disaster upon” the loyal subordinates whose valuable advice they habitually ignore.
Thus I was reminded of that New York soldier’s letter home to his mother, complaining about the incompetence of Union army commanders, when I saw the video in which former State Department security official Eric Nordstrom complained about the unhelpfulness of his superiors:
On the one hand, there is this specific situation and the disaster in Benghazi, but on the other hand, Nordstrom’s complaints about his bosses reflect an all-too-common experience, something with which many people can empathize. Too bad that this “Dilbert” situation took place under circumstances where human lives — and, indeed, the national security of the United States — were at stake.
“One of the last things my husband said to me before he was killed, when I would ask him, ‘Chris, what do you need over there? What can I send you?’ he said, ‘I need a new president.’”
– Jane Horton, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan
Amen, Mrs. Horton!