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Today's Dilbert:

Looking at things from the other end of the org chart, Arno Penzias once told me that the most important lesson that he'd learned as a manager was "The best way to get someone to do something for you is to thank them for having done it".


  1. AntC said,

    January 12, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

    And in like vein, one of Dale Carnegie's tips for climbing the corporate ladder is (counter-intuitively) to ask your boss for a favour — engenders 'bonding', allegedly.

  2. Brett said,

    January 12, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

    The story about Penzias is rather amusing, since one of the thing's he's famous for among physicists is doing his own scut work—cleaning the pigeon poop out of his famous radio telescope.

    [(myl) Wikipedia's version of the story:

    In 1964, on building their most sensitive antenna/receiver system, the pair [Penzias & Wilson] encountered radio noise which they could not explain.[6] It was far less energetic than the radiation given off by the Milky Way, and it was isotropic, so they assumed their instrument was subject to interference by terrestrial sources. They tried, and then rejected, the hypothesis that the radio noise emanated from New York City. An examination of the microwave horn antenna showed it was full of pigeon droppings (which Penzias described as "white dielectric material"). After the pair removed the dung buildup, and the pigeons were shot (each physicist says the other ordered the deed), the noise remained. Having rejected all sources of interference, Penzias contacted Robert Dicke, who suggested it might be the background radiation predicted by some cosmological theories.

    Arno's description of Dicke's suggestion (from memory): "That's not bird shit, you idiot, it's the origin of the universe!" His conclusion: you shouldn't sanitize your scientific papers, but report what you find, even if it doesn't seem to make sense.

    But Arno's managerial learning experiences were post-pigeon-poop.]

  3. Ben Zimmer said,

    January 12, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

    More on the morphology of "bossify" over at Arnold Zwicky's blog.

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