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TheStreet Open House

The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

                                                                
Swanson Song and Dance
Written 'Unwritten Rules'

1. Booklet Learning

Raytheon (RTN - Get Report) threw the book at CEO William Swanson this week.

The Waltham, Mass., defense contractor docked Swanson's pay in a plagiarism scandal. Swanson will have to struggle by without a raise on last year's $1.12 million salary, and he'll miss out on 20% of his restricted stock award.

The board delivered this swift wrist slap after it figured out that the rules in the CEO's widely read pamphlet, Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, indeed had been written down -- but by other people.

Media reports indicate Swanson's supposedly homespun observations borrowed, without attribution, from authors including the late UCLA engineering professor W.J. King, humorist Dave Barry and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Until late last month, Swanson enjoyed fawning press coverage of the free booklet, which Raytheon reportedly mailed to more than 250,000 people. But on Wednesday, the board moved to express its "deep concern over the disclosures involving The Unwritten Rules."

"The Board noted that Mr. Swanson, appropriately, has taken full responsibility for the issues associated with the source materials, sincerely apologized to all involved and discontinued any further distribution of the booklet," Raytheon's lead directors said. The board adds it has "full confidence in Mr. Swanson's leadership."

Swanson did indeed apologize Wednesday. But how sincere the apology was is open to interpretation, considering his initial response in an April 24 press release:

"This experience has taught me a valuable lesson -- new Rule No. 34: 'Regarding the truisms of human behavior, there are no original rules.'"

Not for Bill Swanson, anyway.

Dumb-o-Meter score: 95. "Which rule do you personally find the most difficult?" USA Today asked in a hard-hitting Dec. 19 interview. The answer? "No. 14: 'Strive for brevity and clarity in oral and written reports.'" No mention of accuracy.

To view Colin Barr's video take on Raytheon's entry in Five Dumbest this week, click here .

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