Pointy Haired Boss

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The Pointy Haired Boss (or PHB) is an archetype character invented by Scott Adams in his Dilbert comic. He is famous enough to warrant his own article in Wikipedia, according to which his characteristics include:

  • "Pretends to understand technology, but is really clueless. He often shifts towards buzzwords (e.g. virtual community) to compensate or change subject.
  • Easily mesmerized by silver-tongued sales people peddling management or technology fads, e.g. Bluetooth, RFID, sysop vandalism
  • Decisions seem random or capricious.
  • Gross failures of logic, such as holding repeated long meetings to discuss why a project is behind schedule.
  • Uses his employees' ideas and presents them as his own, almost always to the same employees
  • bossy, bullying, spiteful and a thief
  • Is always right. Or at least, thinks he/she is.
  • You warn him/her to do X or else Y will happen. He doesn't do X. Y happens. You somehow get the blame.
  • Doesn't seem to remember anything beyond a month's range.
  • More focused on sounding important than being important.
  • Has pointy hair."

He is an icon of stupidity and of management, which in Adams' work are always presented as the same thing. That is, there are no good managers, and the best one can do with these people is avoid them.

Such people invariably use or believe Microsoft PowerPoint, and are sometimes called powerpointy or to possess the power of pointy. These phrases emphasize that only a PHB would use Microsoft products to try to persuade people that bad ideas are good. Indeed that is why presentation products exist, and why they have been banned from all serious companies.

It has become popular among trolls to attach ", PHB" to someone's name as if it were an academic credential like ", PhD", when describing their stupidity. In academia there is the variant, the Pointy-Haired Dean (PHD), so trolls can more subtly simply raise the H to uppercase to make a point.