Office Sabotage

Quality not quantity. That is how I think about a short yet powerful field manual issued by the CIA’s predecessor in 1944. 

The Simple Sabotage Field Manual No. 3 was a guide for basic tactics and strategies related to sabotage. The idea was to use everyday citizens to harass and demoralize the enemy.

What is interesting is that even today these tactics are employed indirectly to sabotage your work, your team, or your organization.

Consider yourself warned.

Think about this list when you consider the headlines of bank or business failures. 

Office Workers

Make mistakes in the quantities of material when you are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.

Prolong correspondence with government bureaus.

Misfile essential documents.

In making carbon copies, make one too few, so that an extra copying job will have to be done.

Tell important callers the boss is busy or talking on another telephone.

Hold up mail until the next collection.

Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.

Businesses don’t fail on their own. People within those businesses fail. 

The $500M a year general contractor did not fail because of price escalation or supply chain concerns. They failed because of the lack of leadership.

The $212B commercial bank did not fail because of rising interest rates or a slow economy. They failed because of a lack of leadership.

People fail all the time. How do you make sure office workers are not sabotaging your organization? Think about the standards you and your team tolerate. Are they enough? Today, the early 1900’s, and ancient times are no different.

Epictetus helps us think about our behavior and the standards that we set:

“First, tell yourself what you want to be, then act your part accordingly.”

Our thoughts, our words, and our actions have more of an influence than we think on not only ourselves but those around us. In thinking about your own past experiences, remember Aristotle’s observation of human nature from 2,000 plus years ago:

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.”

Actions matter. Your actions are under your control. Your coworkers, colleagues, your family, your spouse, your kids. They are all paying attention to your actions.

Are you paying attention? 

How often do you think about your actions and your direction?

“When you find your direction, check to make sure that it is the right one.” – Epictetus, Discourses, Book III

Know the signs of sabotage – not only so you can avoid them, but also so you can avoid doing them.

Know that your actions impact those around you. 

The Real Con 020

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