Monday, July 7, 2008

Con Men Profits Expanded by Using Sparks' 10 Rules of the Project Manager

--Taken from the Office Politics Playbook, these Rules Could start You on a New, Profitable Career as a Con Man, should You make this Choice Your Career Direction

It's said that people will believe anything if you whisper it.

This is one of the secrets known and used by con men, though only to be employed under certain, limited circumstances. They also know that more often, a loud, obnoxious stance--like the wheel crying out for grease--is the preferable course of action. And,what's the best, short-cut way to learn these traits? Try Sparks' 10 Rules of the Project Manager. Through these you will learn, and learn fast. Translated, these follow, below:

1) Strive to look tremendously important.
Don't conversationally engage; instruct in a fatherly way. Don't walk; strut. Let it be known in subtle ways that you appreciate praise, but will not tolerate criticism. And, most importantly, follow this sacrosanct Law of Bureaucracy: Never be the first to do anything. You must preserve a father-figure image, observing, waiting patiently for a brilliant idea to emerge from one of your underlings.

2) Attempt to be seen with important people. You must be totally V.I.P.-aware.
When the CEO of your company gives a speech, position yourself behind him to take best advantage of all camera angles. Glad hand your way into meetings with top executives. Grab that press release from the hands of your Publicity Director, and give that good-news press announcement yourself, with the smiling face of the company president at your side.

3) Always speak with finality. Exude complete authority. However, play it safe: only expound on the obvious and proven facts. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

4) Ask irrelevant questions and lean back with a satisfied, cat-that-ate-the-canary grin as your opponent tries to figure out what the hell you are talking about. Then, quickly change the subject.

5) Listen intently while others are arguing a problem, then pounce on a trite statement and snow them with it. Drown them in useless trivia. But, never speak until the meeting is half over. This makes your restraint appear wise, leader-like.

6) If an opponent asks you a pertinent question, look at him as though he's lost his mind. When he looks down in timid retreat, paraphrase the question and bury him with it. Adhere to the Nursing Monther Principle: Do not nurse a kid who wears braces.

7) Always keep your office door closed. This puts your visitors on the defensive. Makes it appear as if you are always in an important conference. Most people manage by the book, even if they don't know who wrote the book, or even which book it is.

8) Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into a Pearl Harbor file, to be used against you. When backed into a corner and forced to put something in writing, do it as a technical writer would: write words that no one wants to read. When forced to initiate something, read things that don't matter, then write memos saying they do matter, for points that don't matter, to get a project going for something that is totally unrelated.

9) Always take credit for anything good that happens whether you had anything to do with it or not. A "piece of cake" is any unit of work, regardless of scope, for which someone else is totally responsible.

10) Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. Cultivate the art of intimidation. Learn it well. Use it regularly. It will keep your employees on their toes. And, the possibility always exists that one of them will come up with a brilliant idea that you can adopt--step in, steal, claim credit for.

Some will say, if 2 wrongs don't make a right, try 3. Others will say, if you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried. Through all of this an important mathematical equation holds true: Incompetence + incompetence = incompetence.

But, remember: Only a mediocre person is always at his best. So, use this omnipotent promise of perfection to guide you in your pursuits.

Master them, and you will make an excellent con man.

Or, as a fallack position, an excellent Project Manager with your own company.


Bern said...

Never put anything in writing that can come back to bite you. This is some of the best advice in this post.

Lauren said...

Always take credit for everything, whether you had anything to do with it or not. Great line. My boss is an expert at this.

Terry said...

This one is wonderful, Jack. This is some of the best material you have ever developed. So many priceless lines and comments...I am overwhelmed with this one.

Warren M said...

This post is filled with so many gems that its hard to pick any one...if I'm pressed though it wouldl have to be the Nursing Mother Principle - never nurse a kid who wears braces. That is such a straight shot...right to the point which needs to be proven.

Jack Payne said...

Bern, never put anything in writing that can come back to haunt you is an up-front rule with con men.

Lauren, it sounds like your boss has all the "makings."

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

OMG! I've worked with some people who followed that to a "T". I never understood how they became successful (they weren't the smartest people I've ever known), but now I get it! Thanks Jack!

Ione Hesber said...

Who could even stand to have such an obnoxious personality around? This is such a sickeneng profile. But, I guess a lot of people are like my sister. She is always awed by this kind of persnality, and she gets played for a sucker over and over. At least you have a lot of comedy relief, a lot of things to laugh at.

Wendy said...

Ask irrelevant questions and lean back with a satisfied, cat-that-ate-the-canary grin as your opponent tries to figure out what the hell you are talking about.

I am always asking irrelevant questions. LOL

Earl T. Clydson said...

I love your caricatures, Jack. You make them so real. I can close my eyes and recall countless people like this that I've met or dealt with over my lifetime. I wonder if this is only American or a world phenomenon. It would be interesting to read some comments from overseas as to the likelihood of running into such characters in their countries.

Jack Payne said...

Sure, Warren, that line is O.K., but my favorite is: Eagles may soar but weasels do not get sucked into jet engines. That one is not original. I saw it somewhere a long time ago, and wrote it down, and tucked it away for future use. It seemed to fit in this piece, as used.

Jack Payne said...

Lots of familiarity with the personality type, 'eh, Ione and Sandy? Good. You gotta spot'em before you can stop 'em.

You sound proud of your irrelevant questions, Wendy. Come on now, I'll bet you sneak in a relevant question every now and then.

I think the con man syndrom reaches around the globe, Earl. From the email I get, from all over the world, the scam artists seem to be equal-opportunity fleece job purveyors.

Bernie said...

This is right out of the Office Politics Playbook, isn't it? Over my working career I've met countless managers in all walks of life and industry who act just like this. It often made me wonder if there was any sanity left in the world. Then I learned to put up with it. I've adjusted and now just go along. said...

I have done many of those things unwillingly or at least unintentionally. Scary. I have been pretty successful in life and reasonably effortlessly. If you showed me those things 15 years ago I would have probably tried NOT to do them. It's like having a mirror placed in front of you and not liking what you see but being unable to deny it. OUCH

Eddie Hanson said...

Many times you have accented using useless trivia to bamboozle and bury your opponents. I tried this a few times in friendly arguments with my friends, and by golly it works. I can see how this would be a great tool for the con man to have in his kit. Every time you get backed into a corner by a cogent argument all you have to do is come flying back with a lot of useles, unrelated facts and by gosh it levels the playing field again so that you have a chance of winning the argument. The politicians do this all the time.

Terry said...

The plot thickens, Jack. I see a lot of your readers are talking about the fine points - confusion, distraction,etc...this is good, it is one of the main tools of the con man I think. The more people aware of this the betterl.

Jack Payne said...

That's quite an admission, Francetales. You are to be lauded for it. Few would admit to this.

Jack Payne said...

Bernie, yes, this is right out of the Office Politics Playbook, alright.

Interesting experiment, Eddie. And, you are so right, this is a common tactic used in political campaigns. You can readily observe how effective it is by how many people it fools.

RainforestRobin said...

I read this the other day and laughed out loud over it, and yet I know you are right about this. I've never met anyone who saw so well into the mind and antics of a con man. The world of the con man is a bit like the that it's a WHOLE other world, that so many of us (the average Joe....or Robin) don't know much about and yet it is HUGE and obviously VERY VERY real in it's influence on our lives. Not sure if that made sense but the old term "the underground" would sure work here...only it really ISN'T underground in it's affect on our lives.

Also, every time I read your writing Jack I think, "God, thsi guys must have an I.Q. of 400. LOL I can actually FEEL the crackling of your brain in your writing. It is THAT astounding...VERY snappy (firing on all cylinders...there ain't no light out in your attic), quick and witty. I've not seen anyone turn a witty phrase the way you do. These post are full of one liners that drop my jaw! Thanks Jack, Robin

Rory Gord said...

You are frightening Jack. In a good way. I'm laughing I mean, but maybe it's more of an, "Oh cripes I know these people," laugh. Regardless, a good read as always.

Swubird said...

Con Man:

Great post.

Over my managerial career I more or less subscribed to all of your items except item eight. I did write everything down in memos. I remember what my tax accounting professor used to say, "He who has the most paperwork wins."

I am proud of the fact that all of my memos, either to direct staff to perform some duty, or just for file, were always constructive and courteous. You must remember that memos are a permanent record that leave a trail right back to you. Eventually I had carbon copies of those memos filed in three-ring binders.

I not only wrote memos, but I also kept a daily journal every day for over twenty-five years! If you had a significant conversation with me, it went into the journal along with the date and the time.

Memos and journals were not my original idea. I was influenced by two senior managers that I worked for when I was just starting out. They were both prolific memo writers.

Eventually, no matter how high you are on the ladder, or how low you are among the rank and file, everything will hit the fan. In that case, you may be terminated, or you may have to fire someone. God forbid, but it happens. Either way, a written record is your most effective defense. If you want to fire someone you'd better be able to document their incompetence, or any other reason for letting them go. If your boss is trying to fire you, you'd better have better paperwork than he or she does. It's tough to document everything. It takes an unbelievable amount of time. But I can't think of a better way to protect yourself.

A great post as always, Con Man.
Happy trails.

Nardeeisms said...

Jack, I know a person who fits ALL of the points cited; especially

"1) Strive to look tremendously important. Don't conversationally engage; instruct in a fatherly way. Don't walk; strut. ... waiting patiently for a brilliant idea to emerge from one of your underlings".

This is so, so true that I will be sending this link to a friend of mine who also knows the individual. We thought that they broke the mold when they made him...apparently not. - Nards

Barry said...

My gosh! You have corporate American pinned down to the last jot and tittle (I just wanted to say jot and tittle)

Nice post keep it up!

Terry said...

It's been awhile. When are you going to put up a new post?

Kevin Goodman said...

Good satire on office politics.

reddit and stumbled.


This is frightening how many people I have worked with that fit this perfectly. I loved this and am going to print it out. I love stopping by. You are a genius.

The IFRS Exorcist © said...

Jack you are very funny. Was "fallack" a typo for "fall back" or did you coin a new word - he's a real fallack? LOL