I decided to check out The Soul of a New Machine after reading this account of working at Atari and writing the Donkey Kong cart for the 2600 (if you are an Atari or DK fan, read this).
Anyway, the wiki page for The Soul of a New Machine talks about the Mushroom Theory of Management:
Tom West practices the “Mushroom Theory of Management” – “keeping them in the dark and feeding them shit.” That is, isolating the design team from outside influences and instead using the fear of the unknown to motivate the team.
I’ve encountered this a lot over the years, most notably at Apple, where Mushroom Management was one of my manager’s only motivational techniques.
See also: Mikee’s awesome mushroom pictures