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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Inspired By the Peter Principle: the Peter Pinnacle 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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Inspired By the Peter Principle: the Peter Pinnacle

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  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:55PM (#44670479) Journal

    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.

    • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:12PM (#44670589)

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

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        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.
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          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.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      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.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        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... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:56PM (#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... (Score:5, Funny)

      by plopez ( 54068 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:18PM (#44672353) Journal

      Maybe we should just pay the slashdot editors to go away.

    • 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.

      • 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?

  • ...promoted to his/her level of incompetence...
  • Fiorina (Score:5, Informative)

    by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:58PM (#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 in 2010, Mark Hurd took a $37 Million payoff to leave HP: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/08/09/why-did-mark-hurd-hps-disgraced-ex-ceo-get-37-million/ [dailyfinance.com]
    • so what? that's chump change to a large corporation, a rounding error in the revenue stream they deal with.

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

        • by tftp ( 111690 )

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

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

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

    • HP went nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @04:30PM (#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.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:09PM (#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...
  • The Ballmer Pinnacle
  • by tutufan ( 2857787 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @03:18PM (#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.
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @05:55PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @05:57PM (#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.
  • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:44PM (#44672485)

    There are 5 articles from December 1945 on his blog.

  • 'Nuff said.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @08:09PM (#44672613)

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

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      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.


      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.

  • ... 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].
  • Insert Obligatory Carly Fiorina Joke...

  • I'm too busy sexually dominating my secretary and arranging my tie collection.
  • 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.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson