Tuesday, February 08, 2011


While chatting with a colleague many years ago, I remarked I was frustrated that so many people were not driven to do their work promptly and competently.  Some even seemed content to let things drop altogether, even though they were capable people.  Management tolerated it.

For those like me, those driven to get something done, life in a working environment that included many others with differing motivations was annoying.  Thankfully, I spent most of my working years in small, entrepreneurial endeavors.  There, we associated only with motivated people having useful skills.

My colleague, an ex-pat Brit who was content for many years to be Dilbert-like within a large corporation, got out a pad of paper and drew a quadrant diagram, numbering the quadrants 1-4.  He then marked 4 personality types, one in each quadrant and showed that each group was useful, except one…that one should be taken out and shot (his words).

His drawing and explanation amused me and I found later that the theory is well known in some areas of organization philosophy. 
1.     smart & sluggish
2.     smart & hard-working
3.     stupid & sluggish
4.     stupid & hard-working

Apparently the first known proponent to publish his version of the theory was a German Army general who rose to prominence during the period between WWI and WWII.  As Chief of the Army High Command, Kurt Hammerstein-Equord oversaw the composition of the German manual on military unit command (Truppenführung), dated 17 October 1933.  He originated a special classification scheme for his men:
I divide my officers into four classes;

1.     the clever,

2.     the lazy,

3.     the industrious,

4.     stupid.

Most often two of these qualities come together.  
       The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments.  
       Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work.  
       The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations.  
       But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

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