Working the Cultural Network
A cabal is a group of
two or more people who secretly join together to plot a common
purpose, usually to advance themselves in the organization.
Why this should work
is due to a little-known trick of behavioral logic. It's become
known as the Dummy Theorem, invented and told by a software
developer John Munzer some twenty years ago. The Dummy Theorem
states that in any group of 'n' people, 'k' of them are Dummies,
and the ratio of 'k' over 'n' is a constant greater than or
equal to 2/3. That is, in any group of people, 2/3 of them will
Why are so many
dummies in the world? The Dummy Theorem explains that within a
peer group people self-select themselves into dummy or nondummy
status based on their perception of themselves, vis-a-vis their
peers. This is the only possible way to explain the large number
of dummies who can earn large salaries in the corporate
world. Here i show smart managers put the Dummy Theorem to work.
The chairman of
Mitsubishi was once interview on the subject of lifetime
employment in Japanese industries. "What do you do if a middle
manager starts misperforming? What do you doo with him, given
that you're committed too employ him for a lifetime?"
The chairman responded
immediately, "Oh, that's a problem we've studied a great deal.
First, we check out the situation to find if there's something
we could change to improve his performance. But if we really
don't understand why he's performing badly, we promote him.
Because in 72.4 percent (or thereabouts) of the times we promote
someone, their performance immediately improve."
By promoting him, you
improve his perception of himself in relation to his peers.
And so, obviously, he stops behaving like a dummy; he behaves
like a nondummy.
The Dummy Theorem is a
vast improvement over the Peter Principle, which states that
people are promoted until they reach their level of in
competence, where their careers stop. The Dummy Theorem says
just the opposite: As long as you can advance your perception of
yourself in comparison to others, you'll continue to advance and
you'll always rise to the higher occasion. But crucial to
advancing your estimation in other's eyes is the role of the
cabal and the peer group.
The cabal is a useful
lever for elevating your status, but it's also important as a
protection mechanism; it offers you strength and backing. In
fact, in strong cultures people unconsciously create and nurture
cabals that reinforce their ideas and positions in the
company. That is, some people are semiconscious of the Dummy
Theorem and how it works; and they manage by those principles
rather than by more formal principles.
Trust loyalty to the
group is crucial whatever the cabal's size. A cabal can be
infinite in size, but it must have clear identification of
interest within it. A cabal is by definition focused on
something. The members of the cabal can borrow the reputations
or ideas of the other members to further their own purposes.
Within the cabal, this is acceptable. It's a fair trade. Shared
values and experiences nurture a cabal.
A strong culture
company will deliberately develop cabals, because when its
interests match the cabal's interests, the result is a strong
Continue reading about
'working the cultural network'.
The cultural network
are people defined as: