Mystery Solved: Dilbert Works At Volkswagen!

If you work in an office, chances are you’ve run into one comparison between your office and the Dilbert comic strip.  I love Dilbert, and ever since the stopped making new Far Side strips, it’s my desk calendar of choice.  One of the things I’ve often wondered is what company Dilbert would work for in real life.  Well, after reading the news this week, I think the answer is pretty clear.  Dilbert must work at Volkswagen!

Liars, Cheats, Polluters

One of the top stories, and I think it will only keep gaining momentum, is how Volkswagen got caught and fully admitted to lying about their diesel cars.  They made hundreds of thousands of diesel cars, and it turns out, had a computer software program that blatantly worked so that they were lying about emissions and polluting the enviornment.  And, this was all intentional!

They had software that controlled emissions, and it could be set to have certain systems bypassed in normal use, and only be activated during testing.  What this meant is that a car being tested for emissions would report everything just fine, but during everyday driving, would be putting out lots more (up to 40 times more, to be exact) harmful emissions.


I never really read too much about why they would do this, but I’m assuming that if the emissions were ‘as they should be’ all the time, that the mileage would be significantly worse or the car would not function as well or that repair costs would be higher.

But, honestly, does it really matter?


So Why Does Dilbert Work At Volkswagen

Dilbert, in his comic strip, has a whole slew of scenarios in which he or his co-workers are featured.  They all focus on the absurdities of daily interactions, often around dating or relationships with family members, but most of the time, it’s focused on where he works.

His boss ‘The Pointy-Haired Boss’ and his bosses boss ‘The C.E.O.’ are two of the most wicked characters, but now that you read about the VW scandal, you realize that they’d fit right in there!  Let’s look at some of their common behaviors:

They Lie All The Time

Both of the bosses lie all the time, right to the faces of their employees, vendors, and yes, their customers, and then even laugh about it behind their backs.   Sound like something that might have happened at VW?

They Act Above The Law

Little things like laws and regulations matter not to Dilbert’s bosses, and it’s evident that such trivial things like rules don’t matter at all to those at VW.  Something like this had to go all the way or pretty near the top.

They Mock The Intelligence of Others

In Dilbert, the bosses will purposefully send a product to market that could harm consumers or simply wouldn’t work, but they don’t mind because they assume that nobody will ever figure it out.  With hundreds of thousands of diesel VW cars on the road, you’d think that it would occur to someone that it’d all get figured out someday, but apparently they really didn’t care or think that anybody would ever uncover what they were doing.

They’re Driven By Money At All Other Costs

Dilbert’s bosses will cut corners, fire employees, and do a whole mess of other actions.  All they care about are their bonuses.  Something so ridiculous as this VW scandal can only be driven by one thing: Greed.

The Big Difference

The one big difference between Dilbert and VW is that Dilbert is funny. You’re supposed to laugh at the sheer absurdity of what they present.  But, what’s happening at VW is not funny at all.  A company that’s spent decades building a reputation is now going to see it tarnished.  Stockholders have already lost over 20% of their holdings since the scandal was uncovered.

mb-2015-09-pumpYou have to wonder how this started, but I have an idea.  Just imagine, somehwere in the VW headquarters: Someone or a bunch of someones were one day reading Dilbert, and instead of laughing and putting the comic aside, they said “Hey, that’s not a half bad idea….”

And, voila, a $7 billion scandal was born!

Side note: I really think that Dilbert is in good fun.   I know that the author writes it with that intent.  This post is in jest, but the similarities are pretty hard to ignore, no?

What’s Next At Volkswagen?  Can They Recover?

But at VW, it’ll probably get worse.  Many times when something like this happens, then other things magically start bubbling to the surface.  Does anybody really believe that this is the only shady thing that VW has been up to?  On top of that, a diminished reputation leads to lower sales. This  could send things spiraling down and down.  Eventually the $7 billion that they’ve estimated will be just the tip of the iceberg.

Smart, eh?

Readers, anybody out there drive a VW or have any feelings about the scandal?  What do you think inspires something like this?

9 thoughts on “Mystery Solved: Dilbert Works At Volkswagen!”

  1. While I think that corporate lies are always rooted at the top, the company culture makes it possible to promote the lies. Not every single one of VWs 10K plus employees is a lying bastard, but none of them raised the alarms. Why? Probably because its part of the VW culture to gloss over shortcomings and pass the buck. Eventually the shortcomings get lost in the next iteration of the product.

    People hate on Amazon because its such a contentious culture, but I will tell you one thing about Amazon, I doubt that they will ever be caught in a corporate fraud scandal because their employees have too much skin in the game.

    I assume that there is a good middle ground somewhere, but I think its tough for big companies to achieve that “balance.”

    • You’re absolutely right. By no means was every VW employee in on this. 99% probably had no idea, but it also wasn’t just one person, one group, or one department. For something like this to have been orchestrated in the manner which it was and the far reaching scope, you can bet there were a lot of people involved.

      Interesting that just a couple of hours ago, the CEO of VW announced he was stepping down. You could see the writing on the wall there, in that either he knew about it or he knew too little of what was going on around him. Either way, he failed.

  2. I think your “spot on” on about VW. If they lied about emissions…how about safety….warranties….component origins…labor relations…pensions…financial disclosures. Couldn’t agree more…this could be just the tip of the iceberg. In a similar vane….I just read an article that it was discovered by a Yale study that the EPA had been underestimating the amount of trash our Country produces….by half. That’s right the study found that we have TWICE the trash produced each year as the EPA had disclosed. Their numbers are/were used in a multitude of issues globally and internally for funding and policy. How do these people still have jobs?

  3. Wow. Unbelievable!

    I’ve always loved VWs, probably because they were such a huge part of my childhood. My sister and I logged many a mile in the back of our family’s minibus. And when my dad retired and could tinker with cars all he wanted, the Beetles just seemed to multiply in our driveway. They had a reputation as simple, reliable cars that just about anyone could fix.

    When the new Beetles came out, I didn’t really think too much about them, except that they looked like the natural evolution of the Bugs I’d grown up seeing, and they were cute as (pardon the expression) little bugs.

    Now…I’m stunned, and probably a lot more disappointed than I have any right to be.

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