1) Never, ever examine yourself or your company. “We’ve always done it this way.” “Don’t rock the boat.”
2) Whatever it is you do, do it over and over and over and over again. “Now’s not the right time for change.” “Our staff will never buy change.”
3) Never look at what your business, market, or competition is doing. “We have to answer to our stockholders, not theirs.”
4) Never tolerate any suggestion that implies that you or your management system may contribute to a problem. “This is company policy. Take it or leave it.”
5) Never change your plans. “We tried that before.”
6) Keep company goals vague. “Our place is different.”
7) Do not be accessible to your employees. Always keep your door closed. Use body language to show that you’re not to be disturbed.
8) Never wander around the company to see how people are doing.
9) Never hire smart people. Turn down all applicants who are curious or who are looking for challenges. Instead look for applicants who are good-looking, make good impressions, and are looking for a steady paycheck.
10) Discourage all questions. “Good thought, but impractical.” “That’s not your problem.”
11) Send lots of memos and copies to everyone about the importance of playing it safe. When you play not to lose, you don’t have to worry about taking risks, innovating or confronting challenges.
12) Never offer meaningful incentives or rewards for new ideas. “Not that again.” “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “It won’t pay for itself.”
13) Never allow people to loosen up. Something happens when people arouse their playful sides, they start coming up with ideas. Keep things solemn. “It can’t be done.” “We don’t have the authority.” “Let’s get serious. We’re all adults here.”
14) Discourage all initiative. Tell people exactly how to do their jobs. If you hire the right people, you won’t have this problem. The right applicant is one who is most comfortable working within the “box.” “Let’s put that idea on the back burner for now.” “Has anyone else ever tried this?” “That’s too much ivory tower for this outfit.”
15) Always remind people of their limitations. Say things like, “Do you regret that you didn’t concentrate more on business courses in college.” “Where’d you dig that one up?”
16) Cultivate blandness. Discourage anything that might excite employees about their work. “Let’s all get back to reality.” “Let’s get real people!” “Quit dreaming”
17) Promote your least creative employees as high and as fast as you can. Make them highly visible by awarding them company cars, titles, parking spaces, special bonuses, and other perks.
18) If someone offers an idea, tell them it’s irrelevant.
If they prove it’s relevant, tell them it can’t work.
If they prove it can work, tell them it’s dangerous.
If they prove it’s safe, tell them it’s unsellable.
If they prove it’s sellable, tell them you’ll create a committee to study it. Make sure no one with real power is on the committee. This way no one with real clout will push it.
19) If someone wants to try something new, remind them of all their past failures and mistakes. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, but…” “That idea will make us the laughingstock of the industry.” “What is the last good idea you ever had that worked?”
20) If you notice someone becoming preoccupied with a problem, tell them to think about it on their own time, but not yours. “We don’t have the time to daydream.” “That’s not your job.”
21) Laugh at anyone who says they have a gut feeling, intuitive sense, or hunch about something. “Let’s get real people!”
22) Have lots of structured meetings. Kill ideas immediately as they are offered with comments like: “It’ll never work,” “It cost too much,” “It’s been tried before,” “If it was any good, someone else would have done it,” Get a committee to look into it,” I’ll get back to you,” “Yes, but…,” or try giving dirty looks or silence. If a meeting should produce an idea that you can’t kill, demand instant documentation and cost estimates. Require prior assurance that the idea will succeed and let everyone know that their career is “on the line.”
23) Don’t listen. Stay focused on what is important which is your bottom line. Listening to employees and customers will unfocus you with trivia that may derail your goals.
24) Do not buy or read my book, THINKERTOYS. If an employee mentions it, walk away, without comment, as fast as possible.