Arm Wrestle designed by James Keuning from The Noun Project

Arm Wrestle designed by James Keuning from The Noun Project

Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, wrote a great piece on a way to keep your higher-ups happy and feeling needed without hindering your work. The secret? Put a deliberate mistake in your final piece.

One of Joe’s clients was forever ruining projects by insisting on stupid changes. Then something odd started happening: each time the client was presented with a newly photographed layout, he’d encounter the image of Joe’s own arm at one edge of the frame, partly obscuring the ad. “The guy would look at it,” Joe recalled, “and he’d say, ‘What the hell is that hairy arm doing in there?'” Joe would apologise for the slip-up. And then, “as he was stalking self-righteously away”, Joe said, “I’d call after him: ‘When I remove the arm, can we go into production?’ And he’d call over his shoulder, ‘Yes, but get that arm out of there first!’ Then I’d hear him muttering, ‘These people! You’ve got to watch them like a hawk.'”

Even those in authority want to feel useful and leave their mark. Let them do it without erasing your contribution. 

Read the rest here.

  • Jarie

    Great idea. I really like the part about adding value. I think that’s the best way to describe the micro-managers egotistical need to demonstrate that they add value.

  • Dre

    I used to use a similar tactic for certain clients; I would add one blinding obvious typo for a them to catch. I disagree that it’s always about ego though. For some clients being presented with a proof for sign off is an entirely new experience, and I believe in some instances they believe that they are meant to have *some* manner of input; it doesn’t always occur to them that “yes, it looks great, let’s go to print” is an entirely valid response. Sometimes spotting a typo was enough for them to feel like they had fulfilled their duties.

  • jg

    Old tactic called Purple Shark Fin. Works great. Google it for more info.

  • Blaine

    Thank you Dre. Such a kind way to think about others, when I was stuck in believing they needed to be more secure in themselves and confident in their workers. We all need to be needed

  • Marie Rhodes

    Love it!

  • Jacob

    It may work for Micro managers but not for Nano managers… trust me… I tried.

  • Karen
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