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CIA Tips on Undermining Your Work Culture

  • January 4, 2016

Timeless Tips for ‘Simple Sabotage’ culture

I recently ran across this article on Business Insider by Richard Feloni writing about a CIA webpage where they share a 1944 manual called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.  The manual isn’t aimed specifically at employers or the workplace, but it contains some amazing if unsurprising tips about work and the ways in which your workplace culture can be damaged.

Since World War II, US intelligence agencies have devised innovative ways to defeat their adversaries. In 1944, CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

This classified booklet described ways to sabotage the US’ World War II enemies. The OSS Director William J. Donovan recommended that the sabotage guidance be declassified and distributed to citizens of enemy states via pamphlets and targeted broadcasts.

Surprisingly Relevant Sabotage Instructions

Many of the sabotage instructions guide ordinary citizens, who may not have agree with their country’s wartime policies towards the US, to destabilize their governments by taking disruptive actions.  Some of the instructions seem outdated; others remain surprisingly relevant. Together they are a reminder of how easily productivity and order can be undermined.

Here’s some timeless tips on ways the workplace can undermined  from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual:

  1. Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  2. Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
  3. Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences (meetings) when there is more critical work to be done.

Don’t let these kinds of things undermine your workplace culture, even if it is not deliberate. Companies who create positive workplaces can go far to avoid suffering this internal “sabotage” of your workplace culture.