Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The "Mary" Principle

My wife works at a large public company...just about as different as you can get from my one-man show. As a result, I am always interested (in a rubber-necker-watching-a-car-crash way) to hear the daily report of what I'm missing by operating outside the strictures of a corporate office.

Last night, we were talking about good and bad managers, and the topic of the Peter Principle came up--"People are promoted to the level of their incompetence"--as did the the Paul Principle, which says that "you need to provide people with what they need to succeed."

Fair enough. As we discussed it, though, I came to the conclusion that there's another possibility. Since we've already got Peter and Paul, let's call it the Mary Principle. In my formulation, the Mary Principle dictates that there are a lot of people who simply don't aspire to climbing the corporate ladder, so they'll never reach their point of incompetence. Perhaps they're satisfied with their job, or the pay, or the benefits, or all of the above. Maybe they're not competitive, or simply don't want the added pressure, risks and expectations of whatever resides on the next rung.

The biggest danger, I imagine, would eventually be crushing boredom. Then again, I never hung around long enough on a corporate ladder to find out.

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