17 Ways to Stop Your Organization's Agile Transformation

In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), now known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), published the Simple Sabotage Field Manual, which provides organizational saboteurs—let’s call them managers and employees who are on the wrong bus—a guide on how to interfere with organizational development and transformation.

As an Agile and High-Performance Teaming™ Coach, I have observed the following 17 tactics found in the Simple Sabotage Field Manual skillfully employed by managers and employees who clearly do not want their organizations to survive and thrive in today’s knowledge economy:

  1. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.

  2. To lower morale and with it, productivity, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers, complain unjustly about their work.

  3. Hold [meetings] when there is more critical work to be done.

  4. Demand [documentation].

  5. “Misunderstand” [documentation]. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such [documents]. Quibble over them when you can.

  6. Make “Speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great lengths.

  7. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

  8. Insists on doing everything through “channels” [and email].

  9. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible–never less than five.

  10. Spread inside rumors that sound like inside dope.

  11. Contrive as many interruptions to your work [and team] as you can.

  12. Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment.

  13. Never pass on your skills and experience to anyone.

  14. If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of 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.

  15. Give lengthy and incomprehensive explanations when questioned.

  16. Act stupid.

  17. Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.

Brian “Ponch” Rivera is a recovering naval aviator, co-founder of AGLX Consulting, LLC, and creator of the High-Performance Teaming™ workshop, an evidence-based approach to rapidly build and develop high-performing teams. Contact Brian at brian@aglx.consulting.

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