Fred Williams: How to Sabotage a Project

On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, Fred Williams, owner of Williams Technical, provided another installment of the UNYP/CVUT entrepreneurship lecture series.  Fred's talk centered on the intentional or unintentional acts that cause great damage, usually at very low cost, and very low risk.  

Sabotage has varied etymological theories, from the Dutch shoes being thrown into machinery to railroad ties being torn up.  Sabotage examples in history are numerous, from the Bible to wars to current business practices.  The CIA created a field guide for sabotage.  Interestingly, the book suggests numerous meetings, long speeches, committees, discussion of irrelevant topics, arguments over wording, requirements for higher approval, and advising caution.  These, of course, are commonplace practices in business. 

 

Managers have many opportunities to sabotage their business/project.  This is possible through having people with specific, unshared knowledge who can hold the business/project hostage by refusing to share that knowledge.  Rewarding incompetence and punishing success is another.  Workers can sabotage efforts by spreading rumors, slacking off, and pretending not to understand (or similarly, failing to put forth a slight effort to achieve understanding).  Finally, Fred discussed the strength of redundancy, and the weakness and fragility of efficient and complex systems.  It is much easier to sabotage these complex systems. 

 

UNYP, CVUT, and Inovacentrum thank all wish to thank Fred Williams for his time, expertise, and ideas in this lecture.

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