Previously I’ve discussed what I define an idiot as. I want to state for the record that I don’t mind idiots. I wish they weren’t there, and sometimes they may cause good people to get fired, but often times they amuse and intrigue me.
I mention this topic as I’ve frequently encountered such people in the corporate world. I have, however, learned a few survival tips I’d like to share.
First, idiots are everywhere. No matter how good of a company you may work for, they creep in. Second, they can be dangerous. Finally, in order to not have them ruin your life, it is essential you laugh at them as much as possible and not let them get to you.
The best tactic is, of course, to avoid being put into a situation where one must work closely with an idiot. This isn’t always possible.
I was forced to work with a development group lead by a 2,000$/day consultant who bottlenecked the entire process. My job was to document what he did. My suggestion to management: take away his keyboard privileges for a month. They didn’t listen to me at first. The only way to document what these people do is to force them to be documented. And even then, he would play politics, going through his own men, splitting up the knowledge best he could. A process only existed in his mind. Cleanup scripts ran out of his home directory at night. Letting him go (yes it did eventually occur) nearly brought down the entire infrastructure.
The next kind of idiot I find much more pleasurable to deal with: the cowboys. I think to some extent we all start off as cowboys. These people can go two ways: try to educate them on the ways of the jedi knights, or for the more helpless ones, simply try to manipulate them as best you can. Often it’s easiest to try to get them to come up with an idea rather than telling them it’s the answer. This can be tricky but there are subtle ways it can be done.
I once left a magazine open to a story on an idiots desk just on the off chance he’d read it. I was shocked when it worked and he started suggesting we do things differently.
You should elaborate on this topic, delving into issues such as idiot identification and idiot denial. Most idiots may be dangerously unaware of their own incompetance. Maybe some "12-step" program is necessary, something like an "Idiot's Anonymous". I would prefer a how-to book on the topic, maybe an "Idiot's Guide to Idiots", or "Idiots for Dummies"? By the way, do you know of any openings for a 2000$/day idiot consultant? I may not be an idiot, but with proper training...