Facilitation Antipattern: Professor Moriarty (aka Evil Genius)

Posted by Doc
Feb 02 2009

professor_moriartyMotto: The end, if it’s what I want, justifies any means.
Belief: I can, and will, utilize any tool or stratagem to achieve my goals. Iโ€™m entitled to do so because I’m smarter and cleverer and it’s what I want.
Behavior: Manipulates, uses loaded language, conspires, convinces, distracts, distorts
Characteristics: Insidious, manipulative, conspiratorial, superficially open and honest

This may be one of my least favorite antipatterns, because it’s so destructive, while trying to wear the guise of constructive and collaborative. The Evil Genius is the one who’s whispering to others, who catches others alone during breaks, who speaks against one to another, who proposes antagonistic ideas and tries to make them sound constructive, and so on.

It does go on and on.

It’s frequently hard to spot the Evil Genius, because they mask their insidious manipulation so well.

And their manipulations are destructive, because they violate all the principles of collaboration.

“If I can get this one to side with me against that one, then I’ll weaken the entire group so that I can achieve my ends.”

And they frequently delude themselves into thinking that they are working for the good of the group.

Frankly, I have trouble imagining someone acting in this antipattern as a facilitator. And if they were, I can’t imagine that they’d be open and honest enough to own up to it and change.

This one is hard to deal with, because they are so good at being deceitful and duplicitous.

6 Responses

  1. Darren says:

    This is only an antipattern if you’re not the evil genius! From his perspective it’s a wonderful pattern.

    If you can persuade your genius that his evil goals are aligned with yours his nefarious talents can be put to good use and the world can be ours! Mwahaha!

    Just… sleep with one eye open ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. 2thyme says:

    I have to agree with Darren. This is only destructive where collaboration has a prayer of success. In some environments … oh, let’s just go ahead and use pirates as an example … this is the most effective way of marshaling cooperative effort – assuming you are the captain that is; or shortly will be ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. […] on the self-centered, ego-need-driven side of “It’s all about me!” Look at Professor Moriarty or the Orator or the Dominator. For each of them, they want – perhaps need – the focus and […]

  4. Doc,

    That’s not my most recent bio pic. I’ll send you an update! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Chris Matts says:

    Evil Genius – The end justifies the means…..

    Genius indicates someone pursuing knowledge. The pattern you describe does not require wisdom.

    Perhaps a political conspiritor is a more accurate name. Someone who wants to win and does not care how they win. They effectively divide the group by creating hidden knowledge to bind others to their cause. They pursue their own goals at the expense of the common good ( political ) and use subversive means to divide and build affiliations ( conspirator ).

    A genius may be driven to pursues knowledge, and an evil one may not care how they acquire the knowledge.

    As soon as someone withholds knowledge for personal gain, they become a political hoarder…. no not hoarder, perhaps withholder….. err, I’m not good enough at this naming game, must upgrade vocabooleary.


    Darth Bookworm.

    • Doc says:

      I disagree that “genius indicates someone pursuing knowledge.” I’m using the term in the sense of someone with unusual intelligence/cleverness. Sadly, being smart doesn’t mean that one seeks knowledge.

      That said, I mostly agree with most of what you said. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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