14/08/2013

The Peter principle (book review)

The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong
Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull
William Morrow & Company, 1969

Among the other books on my blog, there's one that really belongs here. I'm talking about The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull which I'll review today. Although it's written in 1969, I'm afraid it's still actual. ;-) Anyway, it's still funny.

The authors noticed many things go wrong everyday. A bridge collapses, a new baseball stadium isn't fit for playing baseball and so on. Prof. Peter asked himself how this could happen and started a new science: hierarchiology. His conclusion became known as the Peter Principle:
"Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence."
In many companies and organisations, it's practice to offer well performing employees a promotion. However, their results at their current position doesn't guarantee success at a higher position. People get as many promotions till they reach a postion they aren't competent for. Supercompetent employees however, call up resistance and... get fired. How tragic is that!

Peter identified this mechanism not only in companies but also in schools, medical institutions and politics. He questions if we are governed by vicious people sitting on our skin or well-meaning imbiciels (...).

But how to prevent reaching our level of incompetence? Peter explains there are two options: resist promotion (not recommended) or fake incompetence. ;-)

Despite of its funny tone of voice, The Peter Principle has a deep undertone. Many failures in modern society are unnecessary. They are caused by people functioning at the wrong level. The book is an easy read with enteraining examples.

What about you?

Happy reading!

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