“Those bozos in the north are incompetent”

Associated Press has reported on a dysfunctional relationship with “a difficult employee” who was given a final performance warning before he self-selected and went off to create his own start-up. In a lengthy internal memo, the employee was said to have extreme ambition coupled with a bruised ego; he refused to take phone calls and file administrative and financial reports; aired dirty laundry in online forums; failed to achieve revenue targets; created friction and dissension; did not get along with peers; indulged in backbiting, name-calling and sneering including the accusation that “Those bozos in the north are incompetent”; caused organizational fragmentation; and most serious was his “failure to carry out a single spectacular operation despite the resources at his disposal.”

This is not the script from an episode of The Office, but the banal goings-on of al-Qaida in the Sahara. The written complaint against terrorist Moktar Belmoktar, contained 30 successive bullet points of non-compliant behavior, for example “Who handled this abduction poorly?”

In the face of being fired, the recalcitrant MBM, as he is known in Pentagon circles, quit and formed his own group in direct competition with his former employer – unfortunately with deadly effect, claiming responsibility for attacks so large they rivaled the biggest operations undertaken by al-Qaida on the continent.

Not since the quintessential book The Mafia Manager: A Guide to the Corporate Machiavelli have the inner workings of an criminal organization been laid so bare. It’s reassuring, though only marginally so, to see that those who do us harm experience from time to time the same issues as those who do us good.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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