Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Concept Vocabulary: Stellenbosch

2015-11-18 11.19.14

You’ve probably heard of the term, the Peter Principle. A management theory formulated by Lawrence Peter, where an employee advances to his or her level of incompetency within an organization, and remains there.

Stellenbosch, on the other hand, is a verb which means to relegate someone who is incompetent to a position of minimal responsibility as not to harm the entire organization. The word comes from a town in South Africa used as a military base near Cape Town, to which officers who hadn’t proven themselves yet were sent to perform minor tasks.

While wordsmith.org documents this term (and claims earliest documented use was in 1900), I haven’t heard it used. I’m not sure why. It’s a delightful word.

The Japanese have a similar word to describe a whole category of employees who have either been stellenbosched or followed the Peter Principle: madogiwazoku (窓際族), literally translates to windowsill or window ledge tribe. They are the employees who remain in the company with little or no influence with little or no output. They are called windowsill tribe because they stare out the window, accomplishing nothing. The fact that these employees have views (or at least windows) by their desks means that they aren’t some fresh hires who are unable to contribute, but rather someone with a longer tenure in the company. Also interesting to note that the Wikipedia entry for the Japanese term did not have an English translation to date (but was available in Chinese and German!).

Photo: At a pond by Oracle headquarters, Redwood City, California

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2015 by in language, Management, Vocabulary and tagged , , , , .
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