Want to sabotage your enemies (or your company) but not sure how to go about it? The CIA’s declassified 1940s field guide has some great action points. And reading it made me wonder if any of my ex-colleagues were enemy operatives, secretly trying to sabotage my company from the inside. Or maybe they were just high-functioning idiots.
The history of the sabotage guide
When the U.S. and its allies were trying to defeat the Nazis during WWII, the precursor agency to the CIA, The Office of Strategic Services, published a “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” to help ordinary people contribute to the war effort.
It reads like a sabotage 101 lesson from a 1940s MacGyver.
“Acts of simple sabotage are occurring throughout Europe … (and) multiplied by thousands of citizen saboteurs can be an effective weapon against the enemy,” they write.
I found the section that introduced the tools of sabotage in the pre-internet age downright adorable.
That’s a long way from the ricin and AK-47s of today. But before you get any ideas, pay attention to this next part. The guide recommends that saboteurs start small.
Just remember, if you start a fire, don’t hang around until people start pointing fingers.
For sabotage at work, the field guide recommends that people get hired at an enemy organization and work to weaken it from the inside.
The guide advises people to go ahead and act out obvious acts of sabotage. As long as you apologize and act dumb, it advises, you probably won’t get into trouble.
Do not be afraid to commit acts for which you might be blamed directly, so long as you do so rarely, and as long as you have a plausible excuse … Always be profuse in your apologies. Frequently you can ‘get away’ with such acts under the cover of pretending stupidity, ignorance, over-caution, fear of being suspected of sabotage, or weakness and dullness due to undernourishment.
The field guide advises that being a blowhard is great.
Putting off decisions is great, too.
5 (11) (a) (6). Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
If you get promoted, make sure and give some love to the most inefficient worker.
Have meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
I really recommend reading the entire field guide if you’re interested in sabotage. But you didn’t hear it from me…
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