Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Mo Politics

Thursday, November 24, 2005  

One of the continually fascinating aspects of my position is the need to understand and master the company's politics. Like a twisted game of Survivor, it's about making alliances and passing tests (i.e., executing on projects). Unlike Survivor, alliances are multidimensional -- you make them with subordinates, peers and executives. Subordinates and peers pull for initiatives, executives push. That combination can be very effective. For example:

One nagging problem that's festered for about the last four years is who will take ownership of business processes related to the company's CRM platform. The CRM is mostly used by a single line of business from sales to support. However, no one is left to own, maintain or review those processes, many of which are admittedly out of date. In fact, one particularly enterprising individual is trying to get changes made on his terms by declaring everything he doesn't like as a "bug" in the existing applications. How do I neutralize this turkey while getting some responsible, broad-based support for owning the processes and responsibly changing them?

A little digging and I find that there's a task force consisting of members of this LOB from the support side. Good start. I have an unrelated meeting with a senior member of this task force and starting ranting about obsolete business processes and who will take ownership, help streamline them and then work with my group to implement them. Naturally, she offers the task force as a great place to do this work. Heh.

Not too long after that, I start a rant in an unrelated meeting with my boss about the turkey who is trying to classify everything as a bug (my boss isn't too fond of this individual, either). I note that it's time the LOB took ownership of the business processes and their end results and I suggest the task force. He says it's time he told the head of the other LOB to show some interest in their CRM and figure out what they want with it instead of just complaining. Good, good. I'm pushing the right buttons.

The story is still being written and it may not work out quite right. However, knowing your audience and trying to get everyone on the same page without force of authority or bribes is called politics, and its something all managers who want to move an organization forward should possess.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 11/24/2005 12:53:00 PM

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