Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: El Principio de Dilbert

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: El Principio de Dilbert

Original Title: The Dilbert Principle

Author: Scott Adams

Author's web page: www.dilbert.com

Translator: J.M. Pomares

Publisher: Granica

Date: 1997 (Spanish), 1996 (English)

Length: 338 pages

Illustrations: cartoons by the author

ISBN: 8475777821

Quote: "Los trabajadores mas ineficientes son trasladados sistematicamente alli donde pueden causar menos dano: la direccion de la empresa."

In theory the Spanish edition ought to be reviewed in Spanish, as on Amazon it is, but out of respect to the Spanish language, as well as the English-speaking readers, I'm writing this blog in English only. Readers whose first language is Spanish are, however, invited to advertise their translation skills by translating any blog posts they consider worth the trouble.

The Peter Principle stated that workers are promoted to their level of incompetence. The Dilbert Principle (in English) stated that incompetent workers are promoted to the place where they can do most harm: management.

The statement was made, of course, by what a Granica employee describes on Amazon as "the classic American story of an introvert engineer and his megalomaniac dog." (Actually, in the bizarre reality of the cartoon series, Dogbert does own the company; that's why the pointy-haired jerk can't fire Wally, Alice, and Dilbert.)

Beyond the middle-aged-boy-and-his-dog motif, the popularity of the Dilbert series comes from its interactive element: the cartoons illustrate complaints real office workers e-mailed to Scott Adams about real office policies and politics. The book isn't just a collection of cartoons, although most pages include one or more cartoons. The book also includes lots of e-mails, edited for brevity and privacy, but more or less in the correspondents' own words.

Drawings and e-mails are connected by Adams' philosophical reflections, which are as snarky and funny in Spanish as they were in English. All people are stupid--some times, about some things. This stupidity is a source of wealth for satirists. At the end of the book Adams does, however, offer the "F5 conceptual model" for businesses that want to minimize corporate stupidity; F5 stands for "fuera a las 5" (out of the office by 5 p.m.). Toward this goal, the first heading is "APARTARSE DEL CAMINO" (get out of the way--don't bother with policies that dictate conformity, and don't try to organize creativity). So what can the manager do? Fire jerks, teach efficiency by example, and try to ensure that everybody learns something every day.

Introverts have to love the Dilbert series...it shows how annoying the "people persons" (extroverts) some companies have tried to promote really are, to the people who are worth their salaries. For this reason alone, El Principio de Dilbert would be warmly recommended even if it weren't also (a) instructive and (b) hilarious.

Whether your first language is English or Spanish, this book is easy to read without continual reference to the other copy or to the dictionary. Business vocabulary words in both languages are almost identical...and reading this book bilingually is a painless way to learn them. Try to find a place where chortling won't distract others. This book might not be considered ideal for reading in an actual cubicle.

The Spanish edition is harder to find and therefore more valuable than the English edition of The Dilbert Principle. It'll cost $15 for the book plus $5 for shipping, and we will send Adams or his favorite charity $2. If you buy the Spanish and English editions from me together, the cost is $15 for the Spanish book, $5 for the English book, and $5 for shipping, and we will send Adams or his favorite charity $3. E-mail: salolianigodagewi@yahoo.com.