The Gervais Principle: The Complete Series, with a Bonus

The Gervais Principle: The Complete Series, with a Bonus Essay on Office Space (Ribbonfarm Roughs) What the heck did I just read Do you think everything from The Office was incredibly true to life Do you want someone to explain to you the underlying principles that make the world work as depicted in The Office Do you agree that companies are made of exactly three types of people Losers, Clueless, and Sociopaths I am not making this up No Then I suggest you not read this.This felt like an attempt at the Forer effect that got too specific and got all the specifics wrong A lot of indiv What the heck did I just read Do you think everything from The Office was incredibly true to life Do you want someone to explain to you the underlying principles that make the world work as depicted in The Office Do you agree that companies are made of exactly three types of people Losers, Clueless, and Sociopaths I am not making this up No Then I suggest you not read this.This felt like an attempt at the Forer effect that got too specific and got all the specifics wrong A lot of individual parts of the book rang at least somewhat true I m sure everyone has heard seen some amount of empty posturing Posturetalk in this book But the book claims only middle management does Posturetalk, and they do it 100% of the time Upper management instead does Powertalk, which is like Posturetalk except there are real stakes Except when they are talking to ICs, at which point upper management does Straight Talk, where they say exactly what they mean Really, upper management never does any empty posturing Middle management never has anything at stake The entire book was like this, and none of it matched up to my experience I just saw Office Space last night to finish the book with the required essay It fits the tone of the rest of the book perfectly.Something like this is being played in all offices in the world, by both enlightened and unsuspecting parties.This is a bit like taking the Red Pill in Matrix 6 5Highly recommend to my The Office obsessed friends.I read this book in a day and then a year later reread it in a few days As someone who has seen the American version of The Office multiple times and found myself obsessively analyzing it, this was a very interesting and captivating read I m not sure how much of the theories presented I believe and if I would at all apply them to my life but nonetheless it was very enlightening at times and I particularly enjoyed the last section on theists 6 5Highly recommend to my The Office obsessed friends.I read this book in a day and then a year later reread it in a few days As someone who has seen the American version of The Office multiple times and found myself obsessively analyzing it, this was a very interesting and captivating read I m not sure how much of the theories presented I believe and if I would at all apply them to my life but nonetheless it was very enlightening at times and I particularly enjoyed the last section on theists vs atheists vs sociopaths.Once the framework of loser , clueless , and sociopath were established, it was crazy and unbelievable how perfectly the interactions in the show fit into this framework.The parallels to Improv theater were also very interesting and have put the book Impro by Keith Johnstone very high on my to read list.The author of the book, Venkatesh Rao, has a blog called Ribbonfarm which is a vast and enticing rabbit hole that I have only begun to explore.The Gervais Principle suggests that in any organization, at the top are the sociopaths , at the bottom, the losers , and in between, the clueless , and he defines these three terms very specifically The Gervais Principle is this Sociopaths, in their own best interests, knowingly promote over performing Losers into middle management, groom under performing Losers into Sociopaths, and leave the average bare minimum effort Losers to fend for themselves This book delves into the psychologies of the characters and explains why each character is either a Sociopath, Clueless, or a Loser.This book talks about the different ways in which each of these groups speak with one another and primarily focuses on PowerTalk , the language Sociopaths use amongst themselves Rao also points out that PowerTalk, if it can be learned, can only really be learned through trial and error and practice and failure, learned through experience, as opposed to from textbooks.Rao talks about Arrested Development where someone s development as a human being stalls because they focus on furthering their strengths, and that their addiction to their strengths results in a failure to truly grow as an individual.We see the immature nature of the Clueless Michael, Dwight, and Andy, with sufficient psychological detail that it forces me to consider those in my own life who fit the mold of Clueless.Rao on status illegibility and group dynamics is extremely eye opening to someone who has never read about group dynamics While there may be other books on group dynamics that arethorough and correct, the sheer magnitude and concentration of examples provided by the show gives me a way to really better understand the concepts It is not rare for Rao to explain a concept and follow it up with a long bullet point list of examples that illustrate the concept, something that is rare in books talking about complex, hard to grasp concepts.Rao also speaks on humor and it s effects on group status This section was very entertaining because I love making jokes in groups and to see an analysis of various kinds of jokes was both eye opening and simply fun Both the section on jokes and in group dynamics has made me wary of my desire for group status and made me aware of how changes in group status are ultimately peanuts compared to overall status.The Office is the show best known for crime humor There are many people who prefer to not watch the show because of the high levels of cringe Rao very clearly explains why the lack of self awareness in mainly the Clueless causes us as an audience to cringe.Finally Rao focuses on the Sociopaths He claims that they play a game of altering realities Seasoned Sociopaths maintain a permanent facade of strategic incompetence and ignorance in key areas, rather than just making up situational incompetence arguments This is coupled with indirection and abstraction in requests given to reports The result is HIWTYL judo HIWTYL Heads I Win, Tails You LoseI think it is imperative to understand and even be able to play this game that Sociopaths play in order to not be manipulated yourself Rao touches on key points on how they get and keep and grow their power It isn t so much that they forcefully take the power but rather it is handed to them by those unwilling to face reality and it s infinite complexities.The book ends with a highly philosophical discussion on the socially constructed realities we live in and that Sociopaths in pursuit of unmediated reality acquire power or rather it is acquiesced to them by those afraid of peeling off the masks This is where the connections to Improv come in Finally the book ends with a discussion of Toby, the failed Messiah figure, a Sociopath who refuses to play the power fame and instead uses his nihilistic knowledge to protect the blissfully unaware from facing reality and escaping their paradise of ignorance The last bit in its reference both to Messiac figures and Priests and The Hero s Journey, is Peterson esque.All in all, this book is a 6 5, which is to say, a Must Read I don t write book reviews but this is by far one of the most insightful and brilliant pieces of commentary I ve ever read The fact that it s based on The Office, a personal favorite, makes it all theenjoyable. I don t think that it s overdoing it to say that this book really a series of curated blog posts will probably change how you think about work As a synthesis of the Peter Principle thesis and the Dilbert Principle antithesis , The Gervais Principle is a fitting synthesis of many timeless theories of organizational genesis, growth and stagnation, as well as organizational coercion and internal politics It s an easy read, and well worth your time, although it is, as the introduction states, I don t think that it s overdoing it to say that this book really a series of curated blog posts will probably change how you think about work As a synthesis of the Peter Principle thesis and the Dilbert Principle antithesis , The Gervais Principle is a fitting synthesis of many timeless theories of organizational genesis, growth and stagnation, as well as organizational coercion and internal politics It s an easy read, and well worth your time, although it is, as the introduction states, a bit of a matrix book it s hard to look backwards, and does really force some real self reflection.It s hard to describe this I got some of the same feelings I got while reading Finite and Infinite Games, and there are just so many zen like counterintuitive concepts within the overall framework that you should probably just go read it Phrases like the mediocre will inherit the earth, happiness is a social construct and in traditional accounting, you ll have a net deficit of blame, all jostle for position within a somewhat counter cultural, but relatively resonant world view.At the end of the day, the Gervais Principle is something that will stick in your head and provide a valuable mental model for navigating the world Like all mental models, they are most valuable in aggregate, but that doesn t diminish the joy in finding a new one A fun, nasty, bitchy taxonomy of social class psychological theory of the firm a mishmash of economics, psychoanalysis and literary criticism a series of massive blogposts apologising for being a book It splits employed people into three classes with terrible names Leaders Sociopaths , Loyalists Clueless , Workers Losers and throws a massive amount of fictional evidence at each That s obviously a formal hierarchy, Leaders Loyalists Workers, but Rao s first big left turn i A fun, nasty, bitchy taxonomy of social class psychological theory of the firm a mishmash of economics, psychoanalysis and literary criticism a series of massive blogposts apologising for being a book It splits employed people into three classes with terrible names Leaders Sociopaths , Loyalists Clueless , Workers Losers and throws a massive amount of fictional evidence at each That s obviously a formal hierarchy, Leaders Loyalists Workers, but Rao s first big left turn is to impose a second contradictory ordering on the 3 classes in developmental psychology terms Clueless Losers Sociopaths I like his subdivision of Losers into Minimum effort rationally disengaged Overperformers future Sociopaths It looks nasty, and Rao is uninterested in making it seem moral or immoral, but if this is how the leaders actually think, Rao is doing us the 99% a service Is this system justified and true No Rao writes the best clickbait in the world, what he calls insight porn It is the verbal equivalent of the noise an F1 engine makes on a 200m straight The class theory in this would make for a great literary theory, a blueprint for future Office Spaces Myers Briggs is marginally better than the dumb view of people asor less defective versions of one character So too is this better than bosses workers cod Marxism He could have massively increased his audience and reduced unwanted connotations by renaming Losers to Workersthe Loser really not a loser at all if you think about it pays his dues, does not ask for much, and finds meaning in his life elsewhere He has a weird relationship with the amoral elites he often says things likeIn the big games of life, those involving the Darwinian dimensions of sex, money or power, we don t get to define the rules And it is only those games that can create social value putting destiny and ultimate value in their hands And he clearly thinks of himself as a post reality shock enlightened figure And yet he rags on the inauthenticity, nihilism, cruelty, hollowness of his Sociopaths.There are dozens of acute, contentious, boggling passages likeFor high empathy people, all this is natural By participating in collective feeling in groups of any size, and reacting to basic attraction aversion drives, you can actually safely navigate all the complexity by instinct Not only can you do this, you will actually feel good doing this This feeling is called happiness I don t have time to go into this, but happiness is entirely a social phenomenon, and there s plenty of evidence that the best way and from my reading, the only way to get happy is to get sociable Non social feelings that seem like happiness turn out, upon further examination, to be distinct emotions like contentment, equanimity or hedonistic pleasurethe level of abstraction that we are concerned with, all theories of developmental psychology Freud s, Piaget s, Erikson s, Maslow s say roughly the same thing about arrested development you are born Clueless and clue up in fits and starts Bits of you get stuck and left behind at different points, and eventually you exhaust your capacity for real change and stall though you may retain an illusion that you are on a path of lifelong growth and learning, itself a pattern of arrested developmentI can imagine a teenager reading this and becoming absolutely insufferable But much great writing can lend spurious superiority to fools for instance Nietzsche Free here Really funny, and maybe not to be taken too seriously, but still very thought provoking I think there are some real insights here into big corporations as well as general interpersonal dynamics I certainly came away with lots to think about w.r.t my own experiences in big corporations as well as my personal life and motivations I think the ideas here applyobviously to non tech companies, just considering the skills, nature, and role of labor vs management and some general cultural diff Really funny, and maybe not to be taken too seriously, but still very thought provoking I think there are some real insights here into big corporations as well as general interpersonal dynamics I certainly came away with lots to think about w.r.t my own experiences in big corporations as well as my personal life and motivations I think the ideas here applyobviously to non tech companies, just considering the skills, nature, and role of labor vs management and some general cultural differences in tech vs the companies of The Organization Man But anyway I would certainly recommend this to friends who 1 have corporate jobs, tech or not, and 2 are familiar with the US version of The Office An enjoyable read for the most part and at times illuminating too It fails to be particularly useful for me because I haven t seen the American version of The Office so most of the examples are lost on me The cynical labels Rao has chosen for his archetypes may be amusing but ultimately prevent me from embracing his theory as a tool for reading my own work environments That might make me clueless or a loser two of the three archetypes but I just don t like to self describe as a sociopa An enjoyable read for the most part and at times illuminating too It fails to be particularly useful for me because I haven t seen the American version of The Office so most of the examples are lost on me The cynical labels Rao has chosen for his archetypes may be amusing but ultimately prevent me from embracing his theory as a tool for reading my own work environments That might make me clueless or a loser two of the three archetypes but I just don t like to self describe as a sociopath the final one The complete Internet cult classic series, the Gervais Principle, plus a bonus essay on the movie Office Space and a TV, movie and reading guide for connoisseurs of workplace politics Written in six parts betweenandby Venkatesh Rao on ribbonfarm, and Slashdotted twice, this widely acclaimed series examines organizational dynamics through the lens of the NBC show, The Office and offers a comprehensive tragic philosophy of work for the modern world In this book, Venkatesh Rao introduces us to his very cynical analysis of organizational structure, using the tv show The Office as both model and example While he focuses primarily on corporate organizational structure, the picture he presents has implications beyond the workplace, as it delves into the mindsets and psychology of the classes of workers involved.Personally, I found his view interesting, and there is something right in it but I am unconvinced that it is an entirely accurate por In this book, Venkatesh Rao introduces us to his very cynical analysis of organizational structure, using the tv show The Office as both model and example While he focuses primarily on corporate organizational structure, the picture he presents has implications beyond the workplace, as it delves into the mindsets and psychology of the classes of workers involved.Personally, I found his view interesting, and there is something right in it but I am unconvinced that it is an entirely accurate portrayal of all organizations He makes some assumptions that I don t think he can unilaterally make, and many of his conclusions are based on those assumptions I did, however, think the book made a lot of sense in the context of The Office, although I m not sure the show was actually conceived and built around these ideas that might, however, lendcredence to his argument, however, since a satirical look at a thing often picks out truths that are missed when taking it seriously A point he makes later in the book stands out as something he should have said earlier namely, that different people can and do play each of these roles at different times It isn t always clear which class a person belongs in, then, except in the context of a particular event or role Recommended for fans of The Office and Dilbert, or who want a darkly cynical way to approach corporate structure

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