Book Notes: The Peter Principe - Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

Book Notes: The Peter Principe - Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull
Laurence J. Peter developed the Peter principle, which states that people tend to rise to the level of their respective incompetence within a hierarchy.


Title: Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong
Author: Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull
Themes: Leadership, Management, Business, Career
Year: 1972
Publisher: Voice Over Books
ISBN: 1788166051, 9781788166058
Pages: 192

From the civil service to multinational companies to hospital management, it explains why things constantly go wrong: promotion up a hierarchy inevitably leads to over-promotion and incompetence. 

"... Although case studies were accurately compiled and data realistic, I had decided to present the Peter Principle exclusively in satirical form. Therefore, in all lectures from 1960 to 1964, and in the articles that followed, examples with a humorous connotation were used and fictitious names were employed to protect the guilty..."

"... The employee had been promoted from a position of competence to a position of incompetence. I saw that, sooner or later, this could happen to every employee in every hierarchy..."

Dr. Peter explains why incompetence is at the root of everything we endeavor to do-why schools bestow ignorance, why governments condone anarchy, why courts dispense injustice, why prosperity causes unhappiness, and why utopian plans never generate utopias. 

With the wit of Mark Twain, the psychological acuity of Sigmund Freud, and the theoretical impact of Isaac Newton, Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull brilliantly explain how incompetence and its accompanying symptoms, syndromes, and remedies define the world and the work we do in it.

Through barbed anecdotes and humor, the authors define the problem and show how anyone, whether at the top or bottom of the career ladder, can avoid its pitfalls. Or, indeed, avoid promotion entirely!

Book Notes: The Peter Principe - Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

In order to be promoted, employees must have demonstrated success in previous jobs until they reach a point where they are no longer competent, as skills acquired in one job may not necessarily transfer to another.

In accordance with the Peter principle, a competent employee will be promoted to a position requiring a different skill set. 

A promoted person who lacks the skills for the new role will not be promoted again if they are incompetent. 

As long as the person is competent in the new role, they will be promoted again and again until they reach a point at which they are incompetent. 

A person who is incompetent will not qualify for promotion again, and so will remain stuck at this final position.

Chapters of the Book:

Chapter 1 - The Peter Principle
Chapter 2 - The Principle in Action
Chapter 3 - Apparent Exceptions
Chapter 4 - Pull & Promotion
Chapter 5 - Push & Promotion
Chapter 6 - Followers & Leaders
Chapter 7 - Hierarchiology & Politics
Chapter 8 - Hints & Foreshadowings
Chapter 9 - The Psychology of Hierarchiology
Chapter 10 - Peter’s Spiral
Chapter 11 - The Pathology of Success
Chapter 12 - Non-Medical Indices of Final Placement
Chapter 13 - Health & Happiness at Zero PQ
Chapter 14 - Creative Incompetence
Chapter 15 - The Darwinian Extension

Laurence J. Peter was born in Canada and received an EdD from Washington State University. An experienced teacher, counselor, school psychologist, prison instructor, consultant, and university professor, he wrote articles for many journals as well as several books. He died in 1990. Raymond Hull wrote many stages plays as well as articles for Punch, Maclean's, and Esquire. He died in 1985.

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