General von Moltke’s Value Matrix

I discovered an interesting conceptual view on how military staff was classified by General von Moltke’s Value Matrix:



“There are only four types of officer. First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm…Second, there are the hard- working, intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard- working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally, there are the intelligent, lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.

General Erich Von Manstein (1887-1973) on the German Officer Corps”

If we transfer this into our world, it would look something like this:

  • Smart + Lazy: Innovative type that does not rush into things. He figures out the easiest way to accomplish a goal. Has a strategic mind and long-term view. Is a good leader.
  • Smart + Active: Follows opportunities as they arise in realtime. A manager type. His intelligence is sometimes diluted being confused by too many parallel things and lack of discipline to focus. Gets lots of stuff done. Not a great leader.
  • Stupid + Lazy: Follows orders. Does not show too much own initiative. Operative administration type. Often inherits value created by the Smart-Actives. Does no harm on teams. Performs in a consistent predictable manner.
  • Stupid + Active: Dangerous type. Does not follow orders, makes mistakes and pursues his own agenda. Default behaviour is to act in absence of skill. Causes all kinds of trouble.

I’m sure, while reading, you already thought about some of your colleagues to be a good fit into one of the 4 categories ;).

1 thought on “General von Moltke’s Value Matrix”

  1. I’d like to find the original work / paper / book / document where von Moltke and von Manstein wrote these things. All I’m finding are quotes without source… Would be much appreciated if you could mention the source…. Thank you…

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