Saturday, September 10, 2005

Snafu principle

The term "snafu principle" was coined some thirty years ago to identify a particular type of organizational disfunction:
"True communication is possible only between equals, because inferiors are more consistently rewarded for telling their superiors pleasant lies than for telling the truth." -- a central tenet of Discordianism, often invoked by hackers to explain why authoritarian hierarchies screw up so reliably and systematically. The effect of the SNAFU principle is a progressive disconnection of decision-makers from reality.
It should come as no surprise to find this principle manifesting itself in the Bush administration. He's the CEO president after all.

I wonder if good CEOs have ways of combatting the snafu principle, and somehow breaking through the encrustrations of yes-men that inevitably adhere to power? There are all those stories of kings disguising themselves as peasants and wandering among the people to find out what's really going on (a practice still engaged in by the King of Jordan, apparently).

1 comment:

goatchowder said...

Yes there is a tool to do just this; it's called "Representative Democracy".

Perhaps we should try it sometime. Might be an improvement over plutocratic corporate governance.

Or the feudalism it most closely resembles.

A bunch of guys wearing wigs in Philadelphia showed us how to mitigate the SNAFU problem a long time ago, but, alas, those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

Now it's time to go watch FOX and then go shopping at the mall. OOH, American Idol is on! Whoo-hoo!