Dilbert is one of the most popular daily strips currently being produced, and has allowed its creator, Scott Adams, to build a huge following and mighty health food empire. The strip mocks corporate America, its business practices, every-man-for-himself mentality and general human stupidity, the only thing capable of reaching more dizzyingly awesome heights of idiocy than a single moron seems to be 1,000 morons working together to pool their collective dysfunctionality, creating an alternative collective universe where stupidity is dynamic and intelligence marks the failure to function as a team player. In the Dilbert comics big business seems focused primarily on creating this kind of environment, secondarily on maximising stock prices and thirdly on making employees and customers squeal for the sheer fun of it.
I’ve never worked in America, so have no first hand experience of how much truth there is in how Dilbert portrays the workplace. But, on the basis of what I have observed of humanity, it doesn’t seem half as unlikely as it really ought to. The more people come together in any kind of institutional setting, the less focus there will be on meeting individual and circumstantial needs and the more focus there will be on setting down and following procedure.
Also, the less interaction will be had between everyone within the organisation, the person you’re going to be working with today might not be someone you’ll ever see again if you both stay in the organisation for another 50 years, there’s less incentive to form personal relationships or even to make sure the person comes away with a favourable impression of you. And it becomes hard to monitor what each person is doing, keep track of what they ought to be doing and make sure that what they’re doing is somewhat worthwhile. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some adults laugh when kids complain that their school classes are pointless because all they do is make macaroni pictures and paint them with glitter dust, we can only hope that these kids might somehow not go on to become slaves to PowerPoint like their fathers before them