The Dilbert Books

This is part of a series of posts to cover books I read after I started rating boos, before I started keeping track of when I read them, and writing proper review of them. This post covers various Dilbert-books.

Dogbert's Top Secret Management HandbookDogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook by Scott Adams
Series: Dilbert: Business #2
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: October 8, 1996
Pages: 176
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The creator of Dilbert, the fastest-growing comic strip in America (syndicated in more than 900 newspapers and read by more than 60 million people), presents a hilariously biting compilation of cartoons that expose the absurdities of corporate management. Dilbert is sweeping the nation. The San Francisco Chronicle dubbed him "the cartoon hero of the workplace," saying that the strip "has its finger on the pulse of the '90s white-collar workplace." Now online, it is one of the hottest Web sites on the Internet, and more than a million copies of the Dilbert cartoon books have been sold.

In this latest cartoon compilation, Dilbert's canine sidekick, the Machiavellian Dogbert, presents a breakthrough management manual to help bosses stick it to their employees. All too often, new managers make mistakes like rewarding good work with good pay, communicating clearly and improving departmental efficiency. Dogbert shows that this could have devastating results: Employees begin to expect fair treatment and compensation, productive workers show results (making the managers look bad by comparison) and the department's future budget allotment could be decreased because it spends only what it needs.

Drawn from years of experience tormenting Dilbert and advising his boss, Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook uses pithy essays, whose points are illustrated with hundreds of comic strips, to drive home the lost cause of the employee in the workplace. It is the perfect gift for bosses and office workers everywhere.

Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook is the first non-comic Dilbert book I read, and it was a strange experience: I had expected it to be a book version of Dilbert in some way. It wasn’t at all. It was more of an actual serious book about management, with some jokes in it, and the occasional Dilbert strip injected here and there to make a point. I did enjoy it, and it did make me feel smart, though thinking about it in hindsight, I’m wondering whether the get-out of being able to treat everything like a joke might have undermined some of the potentially valuable advice in a book like this. Maybe I should re-read now that I’ve actually experienced working life myself.

Dilbert and the Way of the WeaselDilbert and the Way of the Weasel by Scott Adams
Series: Dilbert: Business #5
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: October 22, 2002
Pages: 350
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Back after a four-year hiatus, New York Times best-selling author Scott Adams presents an outrageous look at work, home, and everyday life in his new book, Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel. Building on Dilbert’s theory that “All people are idiots,” Adams now says, “All people are idiots. And they are also weasels.” Just ask anyone who worked at Enron.

In this book, Adams takes a look into the Weasel Zone, the giant grey area between good moral behaviour and outright felonious activities. In the Weasel Zone, where most people reside, everything is misleading, but not exactly a lie. Building on his popular comic strip, Adams looks into work, home, and everyday life and exposes the way of the weasel for everyone to see. With appearances from all the regular comic strip characters, Adams and Dilbert are at the top of their game—master satirists who expose the truth while making us laugh our heads off.

This is a Dilbert book I didn’t enjoy that much. Other than the comic strips, which are around themes, the text that accompanied them seemed to be mostly explaining the jokes, and re-iterating the probably truthful, and genuinely funny, points through text. I.e, it read like a book which was explaining the jokes of Dilbert Strips.

The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st CenturyThe Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century by Scott Adams
Series: Dilbert: Business #3
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: May 14, 1997
Pages: 258
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Step aside, Bill Gates! Here comes today′s real technology guru and his totally original, laugh-out-loud New York Times bestseller that looks at the approaching new millennium and boldly predicts: more stupidity ahead.

In The Dilbert Principle and Dogbert′s Top Secret Management Handbook, Scott Adams skewered the absurdities of the corporate world. Now he takes the next logical step, turning his keen analytical focus on how human greed, stupidity and horniness will shape the future. Featuring the same irresistible amalgam of essays and cartoons that made Adams previous works so singularly entertaining, this uproariously funny, dead-on-target tome offers half-truthful, half-farcical predictions that push all of today′s hot buttons - from business and technology to society and government.

Children - they are our future, so we′re pretty much hosed. Tip: Grab what you can while they′re still too little to stop us.

Human Potential - we′ll finally learn to use the 90 percent of the brain we don′t use today, and find out that there wasn't anything in that part.

Computers - Technology and homeliness will combine to form a powerful type of birth control.

I liked The Dilbert Future. It’s more philosophy than anything else, in a way that I appreciated. I read it at the cottage, and I found the last chapter to be especially interesting, not as a theory, but as a thought experiment. To this day I’m unsure about whether much of this book is what Scott Adams actually thinks, and what is interesting/entertaining ideas to throw around in ones head. The difference is irrelevant – I enjoyed them regardless.

The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions by Scott Adams
Series: Dilbert: Business #1
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: April 18, 1996
Pages: 336

The Dilbert Principle is, as I understand it, a bit of a classic. It read as enough of a non-fiction corporate world handbook that I imagined it would actually work as a “proper” educational book. Mind you, I had no experience at all with the corporate world at the time when I read it, but hey, it convinced me at the time. And I did find it to be both educational and entertaining.

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