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Dilbert: Business #2

Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook

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The creator of Dilbert, the fastest-growing comic strip in America (syndicated in more than 900 newspapers and read by more than 60 million people), presents a hilariously biting compilation of cartoons that expose the absurdities of corporate management. Dilbert is sweeping the nation. The San Francisco Chronicle dubbed him "the cartoon hero of the workplace," saying that the strip "has its finger on the pulse of the '90s white-collar workplace." Now online, it is one of the hottest Web sites on the Internet, and more than a million copies of the Dilbert cartoon books have been sold.

In this latest cartoon compilation, Dilbert's canine sidekick, the Machiavellian Dogbert, presents a breakthrough management manual to help bosses stick it to their employees. All too often, new managers make mistakes like rewarding good work with good pay, communicating clearly and improving departmental efficiency. Dogbert shows that this could have devastating results: Employees begin to expect fair treatment and compensation, productive workers show results (making the managers look bad by comparison) and the department's future budget allotment could be decreased because it spends only what it needs.

Drawn from years of experience tormenting Dilbert and advising his boss, Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook uses pithy essays, whose points are illustrated with hundreds of comic strips, to drive home the lost cause of the employee in the workplace. It is the perfect gift for bosses and office workers everywhere.

176 pages, Paperback

First published October 8, 1996

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About the author

Scott Adams

256 books1,167 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adams was born in Windham, New York in 1957 and received his Bachelor's degree in Economics from Hartwick College in 1979.

He also studied economics and management for his 1986 MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

In recent years, Adams has been hurt with a series of debilitating health problems. Since late 2004, he has suffered from a reemergence of his focal dystonia which has affected his drawing. He can fool his brain by drawing using a graphics tablet. On December 12, 2005, Adams announced on his blog that he also suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, a condition that causes the vocal cords to behave in an abnormal manner. However, on October 24, 2006, he again blogged stating that he had recovered from this condition, although he is unsure if the recovery is permanent. He claims to have developed a method to work around the disorder and has been able to speak normally since. Also, on January 21, 2007, he posted a blog entry detailing his experiences with treatment by Dr. Morton Cooper.

Adams is also a trained hypnotist, as well as a vegetarian. (Mentioned in, "Dilbert: A Treasury of Sunday Strips 00).

He married Shelly Miles on July 22, 2006.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,257 followers
September 14, 2016
When I obtained my Chemical Engineering degree way back in 1985, I thought I would spend my working days in mathematical bliss, dealing with sexy entities such as partial differential equations and Laplace transforms (we geeks are like that). But alas! It was not to be ("The best laid plans of mice and men...", you know). I joined a pioneering fertiliser manufacturing company as Management Trainee, and they set about the process of transforming us trainees into "managers", with gusto.

For a period of eighteen days, we were ensconced in a training centre and subjected to high intensity training sessions which included lectures, presentations and games. We were taught such high level concepts as "empowerment", "motivaton", "time management" etc. : and we were told time and again to forget what we learned in college and think like managers, which was "more of an art than science". Managers were defined by what they do - which was, well, manage.

After the training, I was posted in a factory where I had to manage highly unionised, illiterate and belligerent labourers, among others, and I learnt the art the hard way. After five years of this, I moved on to the design wing, and met my old friends the mathematical equations who did not require to be managed. I lived in relative bliss until 2010, when I was promoted as the head of department in my current company, and I had to be a manager, again.

But now, thankfully, I have Dogbert to help me!


Leadership isn't something you're born with. It's something you learn by reading Dogbert books.


As a manager you could do a lot of thinking, experimenting, and continuous training. Or you can just do what everyone else does and blindly follow my directions like an unthinking zombie. Blind obedience is easier than the alternatives and the pay's the same. In fact, the pay is better, if you look at it from an hourly perspective. So keep reading.


It's important that your employees think you are smart. Judging from the fact that you're reading this book, you'll probably have to fake it. Listen carefully to the zombie-like speech patterns of other managers and try to imitate them. If you hear a new management buzzword, jump on it like a starving squirrel on the last peanut on earth.


Some rookie managers make the mistake of inviting input from the employees, hoping for some valuable insight or contribution. As far as unwarranted optimism goes, this is roughly equivalent to panning for gold in your own shower.



1. Clear your desk by assigning tasks to the powerless dolts trapped in the meeting.

2. Exhibit your keen conceptual grasp of the big picture

3. Babble.

4. Avoid answering any questions.


Nothing good ever came from a management decision. Avoid making decisions whenever possible. They can only get you in trouble.


Leadership skills are quite different from management skills. When you "manage," by definition, you're trying to distribute resources where they will do the company the most good. When you "lead," by definition, you're trying to get those resources distributed to yourself. Obviously, leadership is a better way to go. It's easier too.


When we are born, all humans are clueless, self-absorbed, and helpless. Most babies will grow out of it. Those who don't become managers.


There are many hours in the day that get wasted because employees insist on eating, sleeping, and procreating. You can reduce those unproductive periods by forcing them to work unpaid overtime.

But don't refer to it as unpaid overtime. Refer to it as a "commitment to professionalism" or some other noble-sounding name. Never, ever refer to it as "HA HA HA, YOU'RE WORKING HARD FOR NOTHING!!!" That would be demotivating.


Rumors are an excellent way to keep your employees nervous and edgy, which is similar to being alert. Actually, it's better. When they're alert they realize what you're doing to them and they resist. But when they're edgy they work like crazed bumblebees and die of stress before they become cynical. In other words, everyone wins.


As a manager, you will have the least amount of useful information of anyone in the organization. You can compensate for that by being the one who does all the presenting. Use computer slide shows and overhead transparencies to disguise your cluelessness.


Your stature as a leader grows primarily through the process of getting lots of attention. It's hard to get attention by succeeding, because your boss will deftly hog the glory. But if you screw up a huge project, your boss will slither aside faster than an adder at the Ice Capades. Your name will become forever linked with the epic failure you have created.

Being linked with epic failures sounds bad, but it's not. The next time senior management needs someone to manage a big project, they'll say, "Who has experience?" Your name will be on the top of the list. Everyone else will either be busy or unknown. You'll be the obvious choice—the person who knows what pitfalls to avoid. And don't worry that those senior managers will scrutinize this decision too closely. They're busy screwing up things to enhance their own careers.


Empowerment is the process of shifting blame from yourself to the employees . According to highly paid consultants , this will make the employees happier, thus reducing their unreasonable demands for a living wage.


Find the most useless employee in your department and put that person in charge of whatever the new management initiative is. Give that person a title like "Manager of Excellence in Customer Care."
This way you appear to be complying with the corporate initiative but you lose very little in productivity, except for the endless burdens this person will place on the other poor employees who are trying to do real work.


In the unlikely event that your job generates any real work, fob it off on your underlings by having them form "self-managed teams." That's an elegant way of saying they do your job in addition to their own. This is a bit like teaching the cows to milk themselves, but it's possible if they're flexible.


Despite the fact that your soul abandoned your body when you became a manager, there will still be some corporate tasks that are so horrible, so evil, that you will not be able to do them yourself.
Other times you might need to do something cruel, but you won't want to leave your fingerprints at the scene. For these situations you need a human resources staff.

Some people are naturally equipped for careers in human resources. In other cultures these folks would become serial killers or ruthless despots. But we live in a civilized society, so these irrepressible scamps can channel their talents into the field of human resources instead.



1. You're always right, even when you're stupid.
2. The physical laws of time and space were meant to be broken.
3. The problem is not a lack of resources, it's a lack of meetings.
4. When in doubt, ask for status reports.
5. If you're talking, you're communicating.
6. Low morale is caused by character flaws in your employees.
7. If ten people can complete a project in ten days, then one person can complete the project in one day.
8. Teamwork is when other people do your work for you.
9. Employee illness is a manifestation of laziness.
10. Abuse is a form of recognition. And recognition is what every employee wants.


Profile Image for Joe.
178 reviews93 followers
March 25, 2013
Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook is a cynical book about how to be a cynical manager as told through the voice of the ultimate cynic; Dogbert. Even the book itself is an exercise in cynicism; it's a collection of comics available in other Dilbert books, strung together by a series of sarcastic mock-self-help sections detailing how to 'do irrational and unproductive things' and get your employees to 'resign without a severance package.' That there's a lot of truth in this cynicism is something of a salve for the fact that this $16 book can be read through leisurely in under 2 hours and contains ~50% new material and no new comics.

But a paucity of material is no great crime here, for Scott Adam's way with words make this collection worth a read. Told through the voice of Dogbert, cowardly employees are like greased serpents at The Ice Capades and 'Threats are an excellent way to increase productivity.' If you enjoy Dilbert comics at all, you'll find amusement here.

So if you have a hour to kill while in the vicinity of a bookstore, go read Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook. That would be the cynical thing to do.
Profile Image for Yoly.
551 reviews40 followers
October 10, 2020
This book reminded me of many managers that I've met throughout my career that probably got their "management skills" from this book :D

It was a fun read!
Profile Image for Sue.
392 reviews20 followers
December 7, 2013
My God, I swear this was the instruction manual for management used at my last job! You have NO idea! God only knows how I lasted 10 years there, but I had 8 supervisors in that time, if it tells you anything about what the place was like.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,201 reviews
April 10, 2019
Oh my God, this was great! I've never laughed so much before, I swear I looked like a clapping seal half the time. The thing is you can't work in an office without encountering at least one manager like the ones portrayed in Dogbert. Can't decide what I loved more, how he described managerial stuff as dumping more on your underlings so they end up doing your job for free under "team leader" positions. The bit about how to make secretaries go insane. Or the crazy evil HR department.
Things aren't as bad as in the 90s anymore, but there are so many things that are still the same, and managers who grew back in that time still carry their habits. So yeah, I had to laugh, I've known a few people like that during my working years, and chances are I'll still meet a few more, but better to find the humour in the situation, because the only other option is crying.
Profile Image for Jorge Rosas.
517 reviews27 followers
March 29, 2019
This one was a little bit creepy because it looks like many managers took it way to literal, it is funny and is intended as a manual for becoming a good manager, it criticises many aspect and tendencies of the managers and their decision making process.
Profile Image for Ben Shee.
216 reviews11 followers
May 17, 2019
Still very entertaining, despite being a little dated.
Profile Image for Rob.
Author 2 books378 followers
April 26, 2008
I tend to think of this as the follow-up piece to The Dilbert Principle. Except whereas The Dilbert Principle was Adams writing as himself, attempting an exegesis on the business world of the late-20th century, Dogbert's Management Handbook is Adams writing as Dogbert, handing over what many would imagine is the tome given to managers after they learn the secret handshake. Though amusing and bitingly satirical, its content is not particularly original and most of the jokes are predictable fare from Adams. That doesn't make it bad; that just helps me justify the ... erm ... asynchronous nature of my consumption of said text.
Profile Image for Gemma.
867 reviews37 followers
June 30, 2012
There were some funny bits, like, "You should listen to me because my brain is much larger than yours. To illustrate my point, imagine that my brain is, for example, represented by the continent of Africa. Now imagine your brain is represented by something very tiny; let's say, for example, your brain." LOL.

However, the prose got rather repetitive, and by the time I was halfway through the book, I ended up skipping it and just reading the comics.
Profile Image for Dave.
280 reviews4 followers
May 3, 2014
I enjoy the Dilbert / Dogbert cartoon strip and always go there first in the Sunday funnies. Often LOL. This book, with un-numbered pages, has about 500 of the strips, mostly older ones. This is a good example of “too much of a good thing.” One ice cream cone is good. Eating a whole gallon at one time will make you sick. Reading all of these at once, even though you know that they are mainly for humor, will generate cynicism about the work place.
Profile Image for William.
123 reviews6 followers
January 22, 2014
I chuckled a lot, and laughed hard enough to lose my place a few times. Unfortunately, only a few. The book struck me as formulaic, and most of the punchlines came from well known jokes.

I just expected a little more wit.
477 reviews2 followers
August 15, 2021
I have just really started reading more of Scott Adam's Dilbert comics because I'm not a big fan of reading newspapers. I have four previous books under my belt, so I thought I would try some more, of which this was the first.

I have to say that while I found this book entertaining overall, some of the material has not aged well from 1996. Social norms have changed quite a bit. I say this not to judge, but to warn those who would read the book. I liked it, because I have a horribly dry sense of humour and know sarcasm when I hear it (or use it). Others may not be able to get past that.

As both an employee and manager, Adam's comics are so funny because there is an element, often satirical or sometimes ironic, that rings true. Like other reviewers, there were a few comics that had me laughing out loud because they hit home. However, those moments were a lot fewer than I would have liked. Also, I have to say that I found the lack of page numbers very annoying, as more than once my cat ripped my bookmark out of the book, leaving me to try and find my place.

Overall, I think the book was somewhat entertaining. But I will say that the previous Dilbert books I read were a lot more entertaining throughout. I have a few more recent Dilbert acquisitions to read in the coming weeks, so I'm hoping for more. Worth the leisure time spent reading.
Profile Image for Stephen James Johnson.
39 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2018
Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook by Scott Adams is a satirical guide to being a manager in the corporate world. Though many of the references are dated, Adams' punchlines still remain true. This book is filled with hilarity, reminding us peons that our managers and supervisors may not be as esteemed and advanced as our office policies often make them sound. Adams recycles many of his Dilbert cartoons, adding only sparse novel material, but that does not hurt the text as so many modern readers have not been exposed to his earlier work. What was true in the 1990s is true in the 2010's as well. Something tells me that the observations found in Adams' comics will ring true in the 20s too.
Profile Image for Christina.
153 reviews5 followers
August 8, 2019
As a kid I read Dilbert because it was in the funnies (are newspapers even a thing anymore?). As an adult in a tech corp world, I read Dilbert to cry myself to sleep. Kidding. Maybe. Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook brings out all of the things that really... "make" the experience of being a tech corp grunt though.

Sometimes I felt like this book tried too hard, or was just crass without good subtlety. Other times there were gems that felt all too real, such as the Management Time Fillers or the "...empty, meaningless expressions [for leadership]." Cash Awards for Things that would Happen Anyway, also great.
122 reviews
August 9, 2019
Now that I’ve completed this book, I’ve renamed my department, written a new purpose statement, and am requiring daily updates from all of my losers, er, direct reports.

Although I love Dogbert, as a manager I have to say, don’t read this book during mid year assessments! In certain aspects it hits too close to the heart in terms of some of the games we managers have to play. Mostly that’s because of Catbert, the evil HR director. Regardless, I’m serious. There’s a right time and a wrong time. Employee assessment season is the wrong time.
33 reviews
July 4, 2021
In Scott Adams prior book I feel the reader should feel their problems are understood and shared by much of the world with comedy to uplift the reader spirits. The comedy is still present and I think most readers well find Scott Adams observations echo their daily struggles this book seems a little darker and maybe slightly depressing.
Profile Image for Tvrtko Balić.
199 reviews62 followers
March 18, 2018
Not as insightful as The Dilbert Principle, but if you enjoy Adams' sense of humour you will still really enjoy this. It's definitely a recommendation if you read The Dilbert Principle and are looking for more laughs.
Profile Image for Isidro.
23 reviews
October 2, 2018
Most of the situations depicted in the book are sadly too real to laugh, since managers do behave like that. The usual sarcasm doesn't help save the book. I definitely wouldn't recommend it. The Principle of Dilbert and/or the Future of Dilbert are still my choice of recommendation.
Profile Image for Tam.
97 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2019
I have a feeling some managers read this and don’t realize it’s a parody... though that makes it all the more humorous! I hated Dilbert as a kid because I didn’t understand it and it didn’t seem funny. But now it is all too real and morosely hilarious.
Profile Image for NePo.
50 reviews8 followers
October 18, 2020
This book feels to me like a sequel to The Dilbert Principle.
Both books cover the same topics, however I like this book just a little bit more.
This type of humor is not for everyone, but if you like it, you will appreciate the book.

Teamwork is when other people do your job.
Profile Image for Bob.
23 reviews1 follower
November 10, 2020
Had I read this a year ago, it would have hit a little too close to home, having recently retired from a large, multi-national corporation. While I didn't have a pointy-haired boss, working within that corporate culture was like existing within one of Scott Adams's strips.
Profile Image for Chibimagic.
123 reviews
October 17, 2022
Same level of humor as the Dilbert comics but stretched out over the length of a book. If you enjoy the comics, you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t enjoy the comics, you won’t enjoy this. Pretty predictable.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
363 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2017
Too cynical to be completely enjoyable, but still way too close for comfort to being accurate, based on all my years working with engineers and corporate management culture.
Profile Image for Tibor Konig.
111 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2019
Rendrakás közben a kezembe került, úgyhogy gyorsan elolvastam. Sajnos még alig vesztett az aktualitásából. Az egyetlen komoly bajom vele az, hogy a rajzok meglehetősen gyenge minőségűek.
Profile Image for Asher.
269 reviews3 followers
July 21, 2019
The only downside to the book is that some managers will be too dense to understand that this is satire.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews

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