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Simple Sabotage

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Simple Sabotage

A Modern Field Manual for Detecting and Rooting out Everyday Behaviors that Undermine Your Workplace


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Hidden saboteurs lurk inside your business – beware, you may be one of them.

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Management experts Robert M. Galford, Bob Frisch and Cary Greene studied a 1944 US government sabotage manual for the subtle tactics that World War II Allied saboteurs used to snarl the enemy’s businesses, government agencies and other organizations. The saboteurs’ methods were simple: They exaggerated common and seemingly innocuous business behaviors – forming committees, giving long-winded speeches, strictly adhering to the rule book – until they slowed operations, confused workers and ultimately demoralized the target organization. The authors warn that even your best employees can turn into unwitting saboteurs if they overdo such behaviors. This fun, clever read shows both how to uncover the inadvertent subversives in your midst and how to design effective countermeasures against them. getAbstract recommends its battle-tested insights to entrepreneurs, start-ups, business students and managers at any level.


Unknowing Saboteurs

Saboteurs are everywhere. They undermine every business by stirring confusion, slowing production and sapping morale. These saboteurs aren’t enemy infiltrators. They’re ordinary, well-intentioned staffers who unwittingly convert everyday activities into acts of sabotage.

They don’t know it, but they’re following a strategy that the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) outlined in 1944’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual. The OSS – precursor of the CIA – prepared the manual to help members of the European resistance undermine the Axis war effort. One section “General Interference with Organizations and Production” suggested that resistance fighters could sabotage enemy institutions simply by pushing everyday office behaviors to an extreme.

For instance, “Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.” A skilled saboteur could bog meetings down for hours with meandering orations. The enemy might feel bored and frustrated, but folks at a meeting would have a hard time identifying such behavior as sabotage.

Even model employees can easily, unconsciously become saboteurs. The manual cites simple, almost universal behaviors that ...

About the Authors

Robert M. Galford is the managing partner of the Center for Leading Organizations. Bob Frisch is the managing partner of Strategic Offsites Group, where Cary Greene is a partner.

Comment on this summary

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    S. P. 7 years ago
    Very helpful.
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    A. 8 years ago
    Very good read and useful. I'll be able apply this.
  • Avatar
    R. F. 8 years ago
    Great read and useful knowledge for all levels of business

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