The Michael Scott School of Business

July 09, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: An education on management from the master (of disaster) … priceless.

The Office didn’t air in my little corner of the world last night, and I’m currently battling symptoms of withdrawal. So I decided to take a little walk down memory lane and relive some of my favorite lessons from Season 6. Remember, back in Season 2, when Michael gave Ryan the benefit of his many years of management experience through a series of cliches? What lessons would Michael share with us from this season?

Gossip: Michael divulges Stanley’s secret — he’s having an affair! — to the entire office. Feeling guilty, Michael makes up false rumors about everyone in the office, telling the office that Kelly has an eating disorder, Andy is homosexual, and Pam is pregnant. Turns out, Pam really is pregnant. Lesson learned: Talk is cheap … for Michael, anyway. Maybe not so much for Dunder Mifflin.

The Meeting: David Wallace appears in the office for a meeting with Jim.  When Jim refuses to tell Michael what the meeting is about, Michael drives himself crazy and ends up sabotaging his own chances at a promotion. Lesson learned: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Or should it be the other way around?

The Promotion: Freshly minted co-manager Jim wants Michael to accept that they are now on equal footing. Unwilling to relinquish any of his “authority,” Michael takes up everybody’s time with even more mind-numbing conference room meetings than usual. Lesson learned: Machiavelli didn’t share power.

Niagara: The entire office heads to The Falls for the much anticipated union of Jim and Pam. Michael doesn’t realize that he was supposed to reserve a room in advance, and ends up sleeping next to the vending machines when none of the employees will share with him. Ironically, Michael isn’t the most uncomfortable manager at the wedding (despite his sleeping arrangements) after Jim accidentally lets slip the news about Pam’s pregnancy at the rehearsal dinner. Oops! Lesson learned: All you need is love.

Mafia: Dunder Mifflin receives a visit from an Italian-American insurance salesman. Showing typical cultural sensitivity, Michael becomes convinced the visitor is actually a member of the mafia. (Andy and Dwight don’t help matters.) Lesson learned: Differences make the world go ’round.

The Lover: Jim and Pam return from their honeymoon to an unpleasant surprise … Michael has begun dating Pam’s mom. Pam takes the news extremely badly. Jim is caught between a rock and a hard place. Hilarity ensues. Lesson learned: All’s fair in love and war … and business.

Koi Pond: The employees are tickled to learn that Michael fell in a koi pond while at an off-site meeting with Jim. Michael doesn’t enjoy being on the receiving end of the jokes for a change and demands that the entire staff attend “sensitivity training.”  Lesson learned: What goes around comes around.

Double Date: Michael and Pam’s mom attend a double date with Jim and Pam. Although Pam seems to finally be accepting the fact that Michael is dating her mother, she becomes irate all over again when Michael insensitively dumps her mom. Lesson learned: Love stinks.

Murder: With rumors of an impending financial crisis swirling around Dunder Mifflin, Michael distracts the staff with a murder mystery dinner party game. Jim is skeptical at first, but finally acknowledges that the game did in fact raise morale … for awhile, anyway.  Lesson learned: Work hard, play hard. Or at least, play hard.

Shareholders Meeting: Michael inadvertently angers the Dunder Mifflin shareholders by saying the word “bankrupt” during his speech at the shareholders’ meeting. He “saves the day” by promising them answers to all their questions and a financial plan to save the company. When the top brass are furious (turns out they don’t have a plan — who knew?), Michael puts Oscar on the spot and demands a plan from his fiscally sensible subordinate. Lesson learned: Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Scott’s Tots: We learn that, many years ago, Michael promised a group of third graders that if they graduated from high school, he would pay for their college educations. Now “Scott’s Tots” are seniors and the tuition checks are about to come due.  Unfortunately, Michael’s plan to be a millionaire by 40 didn’t exactly work out. Lesson learned: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Some lessons are harder for Michael than others.

Secret Santa: Phyllis’ dream of playing Santa finally comes true, thanks to Jim. Michael doesn’t approve and dresses up as a competing Santa, then as Jesus. Meanwhile, the staff is shocked to learn that Dunder Mifflin is being sold. Michael finally accepts Phyllis’ reign as Santa… and sits on Phyllis’ lap. Lesson learned: Anything you can do, I can do better… (name that musical).

The Banker: A potential buyer sends a banker to Dunder Mifflin to assess potential liability (uh-oh). We are treated to a recap of some of the best and/or most frightening (for an attorney) moments from Dunder Mifflin Scranton history. Lesson learned: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Sabre: A new day, a new boss. Sabre, a company that sells printers, has expanded into the paper market by acquiring Dunder Mifflin. Michael finds all the changes (including some eco-friendly initiatives) to be a bit disconcerting. Lesson learned: A change will do you good.

The Manager and the Salesman: Sabre CEO Jo shrewdly points out that there is no need for two managers in Scranton. Michael and Jim battle it out to decide who will return to the sales staff and reap the benefits of the limitless commissions. Ultimately, Jim returns to his desk on the sales floor and Michael keeps the manager’s office. Lesson learned: Money can’t buy happiness.

The Delivery: Jim and Pam’s baby arrives, and Michael is the proudest boss in Pennsylvania. Lesson learned: Family is everything.

St. Patrick’s Day: New boss Jo keeps the Scranton office humming until all hours, and the employees almost miss their green beer plans. Michael finally steps in and releases the staff to their revelry. Lesson learned: Life is a balancing act, baby.

New Leads: Michael decides to punish the sales staff for becoming arrogant now that they are raking in the Sabre commissions. He refuses to distribute sales leads to them and instead hands the leads out to the non-sales employees, who have a little fun of their own. Lesson learned: Don’t get too big for your breeches.

Happy Hour: The staff cuts loose with a happy hour in Scranton. Jim and Pam set Michael up on a blind date with a friend of Pam’s. It turns out that “Date Mike” is a bizarre character with horrifying fashion sense … but Michael still manages to make an attractive new friend. Lesson learned: Be a snappy dresser.

Secretary’s Day: After considerable prompting by Andy, Michael takes Erin out to lunch to celebrate Secretary’s Day, but he accidentally ruins Erin and Andy’s relationship when he reveals that Andy was once engaged to Angela. Oops… Lesson learned: Least said, soonest mended.

Body Language: Jim and Pam prepare for their first joint sales pitch … to Donna, Michael’s new love interest. Michael invades the meeting to add his patented combination of finesse and creepiness to close the (sales) deal. Lesson learned: Love is not for sale, but printers are.

The Coverup: Michael’s girlfriend might be cheating on him, and Sabre’s printers are a fire hazard. Everyone deals with the stress in their own ways — Michael hires Dwight to be creepy investigate Donna, and Darryl convinces Andy to make a video about Sabre’s smokin’ hot printers.  Lesson learned: It’s a jungle out there.

The Chump: Michael learns that Donna is definitely cheating … but with him, not on him. Turns out, girlfriend is married!  Michael and Andy check out the cuckolded husband, and Michael feels some conscience pangs. Lesson learned: Love stinks.  (This one also bears repeating.)

Whistleblower: Jo is furious to learn that someone in Scranton blew the whistle on Sabre’s faulty printers. Turns out, it was multiple someones … Kelly, Darryl, Andy, and Pam have all blabbed. In order to save their jobs, Michael agrees to make Sabre’s public apology, sparing Jo the humiliation and enjoying his moment in the spotlight. Lesson learned: Smile for the camera!

Well, there we have it… another season gone by, more lessons for the history books.  Now, have you been paying attention, Ryan Howard?

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5 COMMENTS

1 Joe
14:27:55, 09/07/10

It’s funny while you’re watching it, but when you list it out like that, Michael Scott is not only an idiot, but he would have been fired several years ago.

2 Jaclyn West
06:22:00, 12/07/10

Joe,

I think you’re right – in any real company, Michael would have been long gone, as entertaining as he is! I think that Dunder Mifflin has kept him on as long as it has because, despite his unconventional tactics, his branch is one of the higher-performing ones. Amazingly, Michael actually seems to have put together a good team for the office! I also remember, back in season 2, when several of the branch managers get together for a financial presentation to David Wallace, Michael actually is not the most unprepared manager there. Miracles do happen, I guess! But you’re right, most employers would not tolerate Michael’s antics for long… still, I’m glad that Dunder Mifflin does, because it makes for some great TV!

3 Lynne Wilson
09:07:26, 16/07/10

As an HR professional, I love The Office. It is great entertainment and also, reminds me of several people I have worked with over the years.

4 Maggie
14:51:48, 16/07/10

Lynne: I don’t watch it for the very reason you do watch it. I have worked for people like Michael and it is frightening. I find him creepy (not as creepy as Dwight, he is in a catagory of his own) but it is hard for me to watch. It is a train wreck I just can’t watch.

5 Doug
19:45:30, 22/07/10

Maggie, the reason you don’t watch the Office is the reason I don’t watch Hell’s Kitchen. I find that painful, since we have relegated bad “boss” behavior as entertainment. The Office is clearly a sitcom, while Hell’s Kitchen is more realistic and unscripted. Reality television blurs the line from laughing at actors/actresses playing idiots to people who come across the same way, but are not acting.

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