Never Discuss Ideas with the Director of Marketing

DilbertsmallOnce again, Dilbert has hit the nail on the head with the cartoon panel (at right) from the Sunday paper.  A foolish young intern had a great idea and was discussing it with marketing.  This is a horrible mistake in Dilbert's dysfunctional firm. 

First of all it threatens the boss.  If the pointy-haired boss were to accept ideas from another manager, it would be just like he's the boss's boss.

What's left unstated in the comic strip is that in the dysfunctional accounting or law firm, it's essential to keep the marketing director away from any strategic information.  This includes hiding:

  • Firm financial information -- all marketing director are English majors, and there is no need to confuse them with numbers. They don't understand them.
  • Any plans or new directions the firm is going to take.  Everybody likes surprises, especially the marketing director.
  • Advance notice of any new office openings, mergers or lateral partner hirings.  Again with the surprises.
  • Advance notice of anything newsworthy, particularly scandals, arrests or indictments of partners, departures of entire practice groups, malpractice suits, enforcement actions by government agencies, and mass layoffs.  We want the marketing directors caught off-guard and flat-footed, to see how they respond under pressure.
  • The arrival of an RFP.  If a major corporation has a particularly complex request for a proposal, partners should let it age to ripeness on their desks for months, if necessary.  It should be given to the marketing director 24 hours before it is due, preferably on a Friday before a Monday due date.  Marketing directors are happy to work from 7 am to 9 pm, weekends included, because none of them have any personal lives.

Never discussing ideas with the marketing director leaves them with more free time to write brochure copy, plan parties and give office tours.  The marketing directors will constantly be putting our fires and never have a chance to think about strategy.  And then Dilbert's boss will have prevailed.

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