The Peter Principle
One of the world's most famous quotes is Friedrich Nietzsche's 'that which does not kill us makes us stronger.' It is a quote that has many layers of meaning- to some it is a philosophical observation, to others it is an exhortation to courage and determination. To add to the complexity of this quote, the word 'makes' implies that one's rise to heroism is not entirely predetermined. Sadly, some people seem to follow this maxim only in theory and do not apparently apply it in practice. A prime example of this is the famous thought experiment known as the 'peter principle: from this name derives the name for this concept. The peter principle states that people reach their highest levels of incompetence at the workplaces where they first achieve success. In other words, if you reach a high level of success in one field, you may find yourself working for an inferior organization when you next seek employment.
The peter principle has been discussed by many authors and philosophers, but its basis remains unclear. Some concepts seem obvious when spelled out- for example, there is a high correlation between heroism and success, so people who achieve great things tend to gravitate towards heroic jobs. However, some things are more nuanced than this seemingly straightforward idea suggests. The concept of the peter principle suggests that people reach their highest levels of incompetence at the workplaces where they first achieve success. Essentially, this means that people who are competent in one field may find themselves working in an inferior position when they next seek employment. This may be because their former employer promoted them due to their prior success and promoted them too quickly- resulting in lower job satisfaction and higher risks for lower pay.
To illustrate this idea, consider a man named Peter who works his way up from a clerical position to the office of the president of a large corporation. By virtue of his previous successes, he soon finds himself promoted to the position of president himself. It would seem logical that Peter would enjoy his new position- but that does not appear to be the case. Apparently, something about being at the top of his field did not appeal to Peter- perhaps it was because he felt threatened by those who were above him on the corporate ladder. As a result, he appears to have learned nothing from his initial rise to prominence and now finds himself stuck in a position he no longer enjoys.
Based on data collected by #RoddRodda, #Drucker & #Drucker (1954), #Peter F. #Drucker (1992) known as 'the father of modern business theory' believed that if people learned from their mistakes and addressed their problems, they could avoid working at a D or D+ level in each new field they enter. This approach is sometimes known as 'surging' because it involves quickly addressing problems with working solutions so employees can surge forward through learning curves instead of downward toward D or D+ levels. Although some believe it is impossible for people to learn or get better, those who have observed notable figures show that these characters did indeed improve with time and experience. Perhaps it is time we all start applying #thepetertheory...