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Inspired By the Peter Principle: the Peter Pinnacle

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the but-that's-the-goal dept.

The Almighty Buck 80

bfwebster writes "Michael Swaine — long-time, well-known and very prolific author/editor in the programming and personal computing worlds — has just devised a new twist on the Peter Principle: the Peter Pinnacle, 'meaning to get promoted so high and to be so unqualified for your job that the company tells you that you can name your price just to go away.' I'm sure the timing of the neologism is just a coincidence."

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80 comments

Happy Sunday from The Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670465)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re:Happy Sunday from The Golden Girls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670543)

Thank you, I needed a good pick me up.

Re:Happy Sunday from The Golden Girls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44673389)

> Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

This is the troll hook.

Re:Happy Sunday from The Golden Girls! (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 8 months ago | (#44674317)

you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

I can't imagine where you got the idea that the word "cosmonaut" could possibly fit there. If you were to clean out your ears and listen, you'd see that the line is, "you're a pal and a confidant," which actually makes sense, unlike your garbled version.

Re:Happy Sunday from The Golden Girls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44802561)

There is always one dumbass that bites on the hook and always one dumbass that points it out.

An astute lack of information (5, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#44670479)

The article has no more information than the above summary, does not use any specific examples which illustrate the case, and does not have any links to any further information whatsoever.

If the author doesn't care enough about it to actually take the time to explain in detail what he is really talking about, why should anyone care enough about his opinion to listen?

Sorry for how hostile this post sounds... I'm not angry or anything, just mildly disappointed. An actual paper describing this phenomenon could have been an interesting read, if there had actually been one.

Re:An astute lack of information (4, Funny)

BitZtream (692029) | about 8 months ago | (#44670589)

Jokes on you. You actually read an article timothy approved. You kind of deserved to be trolled at this point.

Re:An astute lack of information (0)

qazsedcft (911254) | about 8 months ago | (#44670665)

Re:An astute lack of information (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#44670769)

That's well known, and not what the article was actually about beyond the article claiming that the Peter Principle was the inspiration for the newer concept.

Re:An astute lack of information (0)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 months ago | (#44673281)

Actually the new principle that reflects actual reality should be the Corporate Psychopath Principle "The ability to be promoted up to the level where you can continue to blame others for your mistakes whilst taking all the credit for their successes" or the Steve Jobs principle. When you reach you peak you cripple your company whilst scamming a golden parachute for yourself.

Re:An astute lack of information (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 8 months ago | (#44670683)

I've got to agree. Maybe I should write a post asking whether I've just invented the term "bamfuder quibblewert" then tweet several times about how I've invented a new term and link to the post, then submit the whole mess to slashdot.

If it gains any traction I'll figure out what the hell a bamfuder quibblewert is.

Re:An astute lack of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670779)

Hey, heeey, come on man, none of that language here.

You can't just bamfuder quibblewert on a place for adults.

Re:An astute lack of information (1)

MalachiK (1944624) | about 8 months ago | (#44672689)

I don't know. It sounds like an adult site is the only place you'd want to be seen doing a bamfuder.

Re:An astute lack of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670955)

It's a /. meme:

"Ignore him, he's just quibblewerting..."

"Don't feed the bamfuders!"

Re:An astute lack of information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44671641)

A quibblewert is wat happens when you have to switch between QWERTY (US), QWERTY (UK), QWERTY (Dutch), AZERTY (Belgian), AZERTY (French) and QWERTZU keyboards several times a day. Many folks in Brussels get completely bamfuder (or worse!) from that.

Tired... (3, Insightful)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 8 months ago | (#44670489)

Getting sick of the multiple Ballmer stories with the same old tired discussions... this is what, the 10th story on the same thing?

Re:Tired... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670721)

You haven't been Ballmered into submission yet. Slashdot editors just want to bring you democracy.

Re:Tired... (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 8 months ago | (#44673541)

The best part is that this isn't even a story. The linked post, in its entirety, is as follows:

I asked this on Facebook:

"Google would know and I'm afraid to ask her because she always says no, but did I just invent the term 'Peter Pinnacle?'"

Facebook friends assured me that I deserve the neologistic credit, whatever credit it might deserve, although there is apparently at least one person whose name is Peter Pinnacle. Sheesh.

So what does it mean?

It's a logical extension of the Peter Principle, meaning to get promoted so high and to be so unqualified for your job that the company tells you that you can name your price just to go away.

That's it. Nothing else. It's a blurb on a blog, not a story. This is an awesome example of /. editors not even bothering to click on a submission link before posting it to the home page.

Re:Tired... (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 8 months ago | (#44673879)

This is a right fine example of the slashdot editors going the extra mile and setting before us a shiny that has no story behind it but it is a bright bauble isn't it? You know that it's deserving of slashdot exposure.

Now for a serious question: After someone like Ballmer has achieved the Peter Pinnacle, that obviously means he'll never be able to get it up that high again. But does it mean that he's completely petered out? Anyone care to take a guess?

Just a new twist on the old... (1)

NetAlien (2855345) | about 8 months ago | (#44670493)

...promoted to his/her level of incompetence...

Re:Just a new twist on the old... (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#44670737)

...promoted to his/her level of incompetence...

What did Timothy do before he was promoted to Slashdot editor?

Re:Just a new twist on the old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44671245)

I think he was a fluffer at the geek compound.

Fiorina (5, Informative)

McGruber (1417641) | about 8 months ago | (#44670503)

I'm sure the timing of the neologism is just a coincidence.

Back in 2005, Carly Fiorina took $21 million to walk away from HP: http://money.cnn.com/2005/02/09/technology/hp_fiorina/ [cnn.com]

And that makes me fucking sick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670551)

I'm sure the timing of the neologism is just a coincidence.

Back in 2005, Carly Fiorina took $21 million to walk away from HP:
http://money.cnn.com/2005/02/09/technology/hp_fiorina/ [cnn.com]

It's not just her, it every CEO! If you're a fuck up and CEO, they pay you a fortune to go away.

AS for the rest of us peons, well too bad.

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44670585)

not a fortune to the corporation, just a small bit of change. Large corporations rule your world, they have your politicians in their pocket. whining will solve nothing,

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670729)

"not a fortune to the corporation, just a small bit of change"

Still doesn't explain why those of us who do real(tm) work - i.e. somthing that produces sellable product &/or service, but I shouldn't have to explain that - get laid off or fired but somehow CEOs etc. who change all their hours to overhead get millions to leave. Where is it written that the bastards can't just be fired & have to walk out wirh a small cardboard box containing a few ripped off pens & papers. I'm sure there are long, rambling explanations for this, but I suspect that would all be simple b.s.

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

Adam Gignac (2834761) | about 8 months ago | (#44671009)

where is it written that the bastards can't just be fired & have to walk out with a small cardboard box containing a few ripped off pens & papers

If I had to guess, I'd say in their contracts.

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44671829)

And what makes the boards who are so happy to pinch every penny on other employment contracts and jump through so many hoops to renege on pensions and other benefits after the fact for the rank and file so willing to sign Santa Claus contracts with CEOs who have already washed out of their first (several) CEO positions?

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 8 months ago | (#44672343)

And what makes the boards who are so happy to pinch every penny on other employment contracts and jump through so many hoops to renege on pensions and other benefits after the fact for the rank and file so willing to sign Santa Claus contracts with CEOs who have already washed out of their first (several) CEO positions?

Look up the board of directors for any company. In most cases it is made up almost entirely of people who are CEOs or retired CEOs of other companies. They are all members of the same club, aka, " I'll sit on your board and pay you millions while you sit on my board and pay me millions."

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44672447)

Exactly. If they weren't in the nearly untouchable by law class, the lot of it would probably found to be a conspiracy for fraud in the courts.

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44681533)

As George Carlin said, "It's a big club, and you ain't in it!"

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44681911)

they rule, you are ruled. remember the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules

Re:And that makes me fucking sick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670807)

It sounds like you'd like leave with a golden parachute if you screwed up as a CEO.

Re:Fiorina (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44670561)

so what? that's chump change to a large corporation, a rounding error in the revenue stream they deal with.

Re:Fiorina (2)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 8 months ago | (#44671235)

Hmm. . . I suspect that the auditors would not consider an embezzlement of $21,000,000 to be a rounding error.

Re:Fiorina (1)

tftp (111690) | about 8 months ago | (#44672525)

The difference between embezzlement and severance pay is in just a few signatures of company's officers.

Re:Fiorina (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44671835)

That's not what they say when it's time to pay out the same amount to retired workers.

Re:Fiorina (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44672135)

Because there's more than one retired worker.

Re:Fiorina (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44672429)

Yes, and all of them taken together don't add up to one golden parachute. Disgusting but true.

HP went nuts (4, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 8 months ago | (#44671569)

I was on the phone with HP Premier Support when the Fiorina departure news hit their office. I almost couldn't finish the call because of the chaos that erupted on the other end. The entire office was cheering, crying with joy, shouting in celebration...and someone in the background started singing at the top of his voice "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!"

I am not kidding.

Re:Fiorina (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44675005)

The Peter principle does not apply to CEOs.

The Peter principle states that employees tend to be given increasing authority until they cannot continue to work competently. But CEOs are on the top of the authority ladder - the promotions stop there anyway, so the Peter principle doesn't concentrate incompetence there like it (purportedly) does elsewhere.

It's an especially dumb accusation to level at Ballmer, since he wasn't promoted to his position from some pool of rising stars - he was promoted because he was an opinionated co-founder, and no one could think of an excuse to bypass him.

That doesn't mean there are no awful CEOs, but they aren't awful because of the Peter principle.

This is the dumbest thing I've ever read (5, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 8 months ago | (#44670569)

Are we really so dense that we can't just acknowledge that we have a ruling class? You don't spill the blood of kings folks, and you don't punish executives for screwing up. It's the same thing. The only difference is they got smart enough to stop flaunting their wealth so you'd think of them as 'one of us' and not even consider revolting. You can't win a (class) war when only one side knows it's fighting...

Re:This is the dumbest thing I've ever read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670637)

Amem brotha, amen.

Regarding Kings (5, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 8 months ago | (#44670753)

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "when you strike at a king, you must kill him" [wikiquote.org]. Merely spilling his blood nonfatally can leave you getting unwanted attention from an irate king and his cohorts of stooges.

Re:Regarding Kings (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about 8 months ago | (#44676893)

He should know. He was the man who assassinated ol' George so that America could become an independent nation. We wouldn't have managed without that final act of murderous treason.

Of course the Brits covered it up by using a body double and pretending like it never happened.

Let's call it what it is... (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 8 months ago | (#44670587)

The Ballmer Pinnacle

Re:Let's call it what it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670733)

He's just one in a long line of captains paid to point their ships at every iceberg they could find then drawing "loyalty bonuses" to keep punching holes in the hull the entire time the ship is sinking, then finally taking a lifeboat for themselves, leaving everyone else to struggle with the result.

Re:Let's call it what it is... (0)

Teresita (982888) | about 8 months ago | (#44670785)

The Jobs Pinnacle. Get more toys than any other kid on the block, then die of pancreatic cancer.

Re:Let's call it what it is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670799)

Let's just call Slashdot what it is. A Microsoft and Apple hating website that lost its edge years ago and has been supplanted by much better news aggregators.

Re:Let's call it what it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670897)

You work for Microsoft _and_ Apple? No wonder Microsoft delivers such shitty products if their employees find time to browse sites filled by zealots.

Happy now?

More serious. I'm wondering why i find such simular post in almost any topic nowadays. If you don't like it, why don't you waste your time somewhere else on the internet? Or may it be that /. has interesting content after all and you just happen to have a bad shoe day? And if it slipped your attention: this news story wasn't about any of the 'big companies'. For an potentional astroturfer, you are doing i pretty shitty job and if i was your employer i'd fire you. Forget your promotion.

Re:Let's call it what it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44674727)

Not only Microsoft and Apple. Add Sony and any other company that have acted clearly consumer hostile in the past.
You will also find that a large part of Slashdot hates NSA and have a strong tendency to mock Timothy and North Korea.

There is a reason for it.

Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670649)

Steve Jobs, Steve Balmer, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the list goes on and on and on....
but what is unqualified? someone with a great education? or someone that can actually do the job, instead of someone that can do it in theory...

Re:Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44672023)

Yeah, that Jobs fella sure ran Apple into the ground, at least until the board finally paid him off to die.

You FAIL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670767)

lube is wiped off need your help! that supports more Gay 7han they 7000 users of simple solution Fuck The Baby

Older than the Corporation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44670789)

Not sure why this guy gets the honour of discovering something that has been around since at least the start of the industrialization era.

Most of the older folks here probably have some good stories about people who got so far along, one disaster after another until the disasters happened at C-level. I know I do.

This is Self-Preventing (3, Interesting)

tutufan (2857787) | about 8 months ago | (#44671121)

I've certainly seen cases where an organization could realize a substantial likely profit by paying someone millions of dollars to go away (or to just sit quietly in a room and stop working mischief). But any organization smart enough to realize this would not find itself in such a lopsided position to begin with. So mostly this state is just an observable marker of a poorly functioning organization.

hey timothy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44671169)

Please name your price so we could get rid of you. Any price. It doesn't matter, the kickstarter would be funded within the hour.

Robert Nardelli -- ousted CEO of Home Depot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44671655)

Robert Nardelli comes to mind for the Peter Pinnacle

He was given $210 million to go away after he seriously damaged the chain which took years to recover from his pathetic leadership.

Nardelli out at Home Depot
No. 1 home improvement retailer gives ex-CEO $210 million package; vice chairman Frank Blake takes the helm.
http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/03/news/companies/home_depot/

Relentless self promotion (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 8 months ago | (#44671977)

A simple to detect symptom of this is the relentless self promotion that many of these people do. If you look at many of the CEOs that have been given the heave ho; most were becoming household names. A great example of this is the "Curse of Forbes" which basically states that if you make it onto the cover of Forbes magazine that you or your company is going to be in huge trouble in the not too distant future.

But there are many awesome CEOs who are not a household name and avoid publicity as a waste of time. They focus their energies on running their companies. Whereas the people who relentlessly self promote have to do two seriously broken things. One is to neglect what they are supposed to be doing, and the second is that they often have to take credit for others' work. Technically there is a third quasi-valid reason to self promote and that is your products suck and you try to sell them through pure con-artistry.

Even years ago I knew a bunch of pilots in training. Oddly enough it is difficult to tell a great pilot; it is only easy to detect the bad ones through their misfortunes. Thus being a blow-hard was a fairly effective method to having people hire you. Most of the better blowhards had shocking levels of success as compared to the more diligent pilots who just focused on their training and hours.

Where these blowhards succeed is that they are quite capable of launching their careers far beyond what a critical look at their skills and experience would normally justify. Then reality will kick in as they start to make a mess of things. At that point the "Peter Pinnacle" definitely kicks in.

So where I would say the Peter Principle and the Peter Pinnacle differ is that under the Peter Principle people get promoted (typically one level above competence) until they fail. Whereas under the Peter Pinnacle people get promoted until they run out of hot air (which could be dozens of levels beyond competence).

The worst part is that people who will reach the highest heights of the Peter Pinnacle were probably terrible from day one and realized that bluster, scheming, and politicking were the only ways they would survive at any level. Programmers who couldn't program, then couldn't manage, then couldn't run a department, then couldn't run a company. But at each level they made sure that things were structured so that they could take credit for successes that were about to happen, and make sure others were put in place to take the blame for their messes. "I'm glad that I took over from Bob when I did. I was able to turn defeat into victory." and six months later "I left that department a well oiled machine, I misplaced my trust in Sue to be able to step into my shoes."

Anti-Peter Principle (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44671991)

I've seen a phenomenon that's similar but opposite to the Peter Principle. Rather than a person gradually being promoted to the level at which he's incompetent, someone can also – through layoffs during recession, the occasional arbitrary dismissal without cause, and/or bad career moves – find himself moved down the corporate org chart to the point that he finds himself no longer competent, either because he's changed or the job has. For example, imagine an executive chef working as a line cook at Chili's, a former sysadmin answering the help-desk line, a university research scientist lecturing at a community college, or anyone over 40 trying to start over at an "entry level" position.

Dilbert Principle (2)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#44672613)

This is just the culmination of the Dilbert Principle [wikipedia.org].

Re:Dilbert Principle (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 8 months ago | (#44676505)

Exactly. The Peter Principle is just a thought experiement: the natural result if we lived in a world where promotions are handed out purely based on competence at the existing job.

The Dilbert Principle, on the other hand, is an actual theory put forth to explain obseved behavior in the real world.

Reminder:

I wrote The Dilbert Principle around the concept that in many cases the least competent, least smart people are promoted, simply because they’re the ones you don't want doing actual work. You want them ordering the doughnuts and yelling at people for not doing their assignments—you know, the easy work. Your heart surgeons and your computer programmers—your smart people—aren’t in management. That principle was literally happening everywhere.

So while the former aspires to be philosophy (an exercise in logic), the latter aspires to be a scientific theory.

With all these 'Peter' theories .... (1)

Tetch (534754) | about 8 months ago | (#44673297)

... it's beginning to get a bit complicated. To help keep it all reasonably clear I suggest we keep all the various definitions neatly organised in a Peter file [youtube.com].

Other Pinnacle CEO's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44674089)

John Roth of Nortel -- decimated the R&D and pumped & dumped the stock. His thought process was to decimate R&D in favour of off the shelf products which were was 1-2 generations behind the tech.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Roth_%28businessman%29

Then there is Paul Maritz who cashed in 60 million in bonuses in 3 days after decimating all the original developers, replacing them with developers in China & India at a fraction of the cost. Also squezzed the hell out of the front line workers identifying bugs and removed resources from staff to resolve bugs -- thus the big surge in profit was at the cost of making employees work 60-70 hours a week at reduced salary & bonuses to support his bonus. this is very short termed thinking.

Sexist concept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44675287)

Proof: Carly Fiorina

Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44676601)

Sounds like what IBM should do with Ginni Rometty.

OMG, such OLD news. (1)

DirtyLiar (796951) | about 8 months ago | (#44684079)

Plus, this guy invented, or twisted, NOTHING.

The concept has been known for years and is called "rising to your greatest level of incompetency". You get promoted so much that you leave your sphere of knowledge.

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