OSS Guide to Simple Sabotage

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the predecessor to the CIA.  In 1994 they published a ‘Simple Sabotage Field Manual’ explaining how ordinary people could sabotage organizations with “no destructive tools whatsoever” simply by adopting a “non-cooperative attitude” or by “creating an unpleasant situation among one’s fellow workers”.  The following sabotage ideas are taken from the section called “General Interference with Organizations and Production” (page 28).

  • Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
  • Work slowly. Think out ways to in­crease the number of movements necessary on your job
  • Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

These examples of “sabotage” should make us think carefully about how destructive ineffective processes, risk-aversion, and selfishness can be to any organization.

View PDF file of OSS Guide to Simple Sabotage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *