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Sun, 16 Nov 1997 12:01:23 -0500
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.c The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Scott Adams doesn't just lampoon consultants in his
Dilbert cartoon strip, he can also pose as one and make managers believe him.

Adams, whose strip appears in 1,700 newspapers in 51 countries, spouted
nonsense during a meeting with executives of a Silicon Valley company, and
most of them - following the lead of their boss - just nodded in agreement.

``What if I was a management consultant?'' Adams wondered. ``I could lead a
bunch of executives in writing a mission statement so impossibly complicated
that it has no real context whatsoever.''

An account of Adam's hoax, which happened last month at Logitech
International - the world's biggest maker of computer mice, was printed in
the San Jose Mercury News' Sunday magazine, West.

Adams pulled off the deception with the cooperation of Logitech co-founder
and vice chairman Pierluigi Zappacosta.

Zappacosta summoned executives to a meeting with Adams - alias Ray Mebert -
to draft a new mission statement for Logitech's New Ventures Group. His memo
touted Mebert as an expert who could help the group ``crisply define'' its

Adams is hardly anonymous. His photo appears on his best-selling books and
elsewhere, and his Dilbert cartoons get pinned up on bulletin boards and
employee cubicles at innumerable companies, including Logitech.

He disguised himself with a wig and fake mustache. He also arrived at
Logitech's Fremont, Calif., headquarters with a photographer, videotaping
crew and a writer.

He told the group his credentials included work on Procter & Gamble Co.'s
``Taste Bright Project,'' a supposedly secret effort to boost sales by
improving the taste of soap.

``There actually are some people who admitted in focus groups that they would
sometimes taste soap,'' Mebert explained.

Executives nodded agreement.

Mebert sneered at the New Ventures Group's existing statement - ``to provide
Logitech with profitable growth and related new business areas'' - and led an
exercise in which managers suggested words and ideas that might become part
of a new one.

The new statement read: ``The New Ventures Mission is to scout profitable
growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in
emerging, mission inclusive markets, and explore new paradigms and then
filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.''

Finally, the ersatz consultant drew a last diagram, one that he said would
bring the session into focus. It was a picture of Dilbert, and Mebert then
pulled off his wig, revealing Adams' thinning locks.

``You've all been had,'' he said.

The executives took the joke with good grace.

``If Adams hadn't revealed himself, I wonder how many of us would have gone
home and tried tasting our soap?'' joked Jack Zahorsky, senior program
manager for control devices.

AP-NY-11-15-97 1744EST