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How Dumb Is the Pointy-Haired Boss?

Scott Adams and Dilbert regularly ridicule management, usually represented by the pointy-haired boss, or PHB.

Over the many years Adams has been drawing the strip, he's certainly found plenty of targets for ridicule. Many of them have struck home with workers and bosses alike.

I thought today's strip was interesting for a slightly different approach:


Often we see Dilbert wrestling with the limited knowledge of the PHB, making ridiculous simplifications or silly analogies both to show his frustrations and to try to find a way to explain a concept. To many employees at all levels, that approach rings true.

To many employees at all levels... including the PHB.

Today's strip indeed shows the PHB doing exactly the same thing for his own boss.

There are two conclusions we could draw, I suppose.

  1. Becoming a manager makes you stupid. The higher up you go, the dumber you get.
  2. We perceive that our managers are stupid not as intelligent as we'd wish because they don't understand the details the way we do.

Good managers don't necessarily understand all the nuances of your particular job... because they're not doing your job. They're letting you do your job, and not micromanaging. (No points to the PHB here, who is indeed sometimes shown as a micromanager.)

Remember that next time your manager, or your client, doesn't get all of the nuances and asks you to simplify. She's not necessarily dumb, or clueless, or carelessly uninformed. She's letting you do your job, and asking you to deliver a crisp analysis, offer one or more recommendations, and take responsibility.

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