That is a subtitle in chapter 13 of Tom DeMarco´s excellent book Slack, dedicated to the Culture of Fear in our organizations.
These are the characteristics of an organization with the Culture of Fear that are listed in the book:
  • It is not safe to say certain things. And truth is no excuse for saying them.
  • In fact, being right in your doubts proved that you must be the reason that the fondest wishes of those above you did not come true.
  • Goals are set so aggresively that there is virtually no chance of achieving them.
  • Power is allowed to trump common sense.
  • Anyone can be abused and abased for a failure to knuckle under.
  • The people that are fired are, on average, more competent than the people who aren´t.
  • The surviving managers are a particulary angry lot. Everyone is terrified of crossing them.

Tom finish that section with the following:
"I hope that as you read these points you're inclined to think thy present a truly extreme picture. I hope this, since it suggests that yours is not a Culture of Fear organization. (If the portrait I'have drawn does not seem extreme to you, you have my sympathies.)"

So, if these points target close to home, do yourself a favor and buy the book. It is a real eye-opener.

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