UNYP/CVUT Entrepreneurship Lecture Series: Mr. Fred Williams’ seminar on Project Sabotage

On Friday, October 25, 2013, Fred Williams, owner of Williams Technical, provided the October 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.  The human body has two kidneys and two lungs.  A management consultant, looking at the analog of the human body in a business structure, might say "we don't need the second lung and second kidney; let's reassign them to other work."  Doing this makes it much more likely that the entire body will be destroyed by something that might otherwise prove innocuous to the firm. 

UNYP, CVUT, and Innovacentrum thanks Fred Williams for his time, expertise, and ideas in this lecture.  The video for this talk can be found at http://youtu.be/Fm9_lA4bjaU

Fred Williams Mr Fed Williams 

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