Uncle Jim’s Proverbs #3

by Jim Britell

Wise words from 50 years of managing political and environmental campaigns, and doing staff work in all kinds of settings from a Cabinet secretary’s front office to local planning boards.


Always bring doughnuts to important meetings, but never eat them.

Bosses never forget attacks on their self-image so never tell them what you think of them.

An experienced analyst only needs one point to spot a trend.

You can’t manage anything well if you hate it.

Never hire anyone until you check references back to their pediatrician.

The devil’s in the details because that’s where the real policy is.

To grasp email’s limitations, inflect sequentially the words; “Her, you should

Between two job offers, take the one with the smartest boss.

To make people respond in bizarre ways, rank them numerically.

Never look directly at a flip chart.

Dotted lines on organizational charts seldom point to buried treasure.

The average manager can generally subdue an above-average professional.

If you are responsible for a meeting, personally inspect the facility an hour beforehand.

Never hand in anything until someone else reads it.

The best predictor of what conclusions any raw data will show is what the boss requires.

Never pass up the opportunity for face time with the boss

To understand an organization, learn how employees turn bad performance into good numbers.

Never hire anyone until you know their hobbies

Organizations that censor unpleasant information from bosses often fetishize powerpoints.

Good analysts can produce trend lines in any required direction.

Regardless of the effort, people seldom  give credit for work turned in late.

Employees’ zeal to outrank peers is boundless.

Most planning is the use of faux collaboration to achieve complicity with foreordained decisions.