Thinking Politically in the Corporate Environment

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Thinking Politically in the Corporate Environment
Abid Mustafa, Director, United Kingdom, Member
In companies that are besotted by (Ed: ~ full of) politics and intrigue, problem solvers rarely fix issues and are more likely to spawn new problems that weigh heavily on the organization’s ability to serve customers and respond to market trends. This is because most problem solvers in such organizations eschew thinking about the political dimension of problems. For them problem solving is apolitical and necessitates issues to be understood and analyzed, root causes identified and validated, and initiatives developed and implemented that eventually result in workable solutions. The solutions— by and large—are delivered in the form of processes and governance models, roles and responsibilities, training, automation etc. Problem solving in this manner always conforms to the politics of the company or what I like to call the “corporate order”.

Corporate politics...No matter how hard problem solvers try to fix problems, the corporate order always ensures that facets of the solution they deem to be dangerous to their interests are either lobbied away or sufficiently diluted before the green light is given for implementation. Even the implementation of the solution is not secure from the prying eyes and ears of the corporate order. If they discover that red flags can expose their incompetence or heap embarrassment upon them, project and operational reports are adroitly manipulated to steer initiatives into paralysis or the guillotine is employed to give the initiatives a death blow.

In such environments, problem fixers— executives, programme directors, project managers, line managers etc— quickly learn to mould their thinking to accommodate the interests of the corporate order, even if it is detrimental to the (real) corporate interests. Subsequently problem fixers spend huge amounts of intellectual capital, invest considerable money and exert much effort in producing and delivering solutions that are fundamentally flawed both in scope and application. From the outset the purpose of such solutions is to maintain the status quo i.e. keeps the executives that preside over the corporate order in power. Problem fixers are only permitted to solve those problems that enable the custodians of the corporate order to meet their performance targets and maintain good relations with the board.

Problem solvers who adhere to the purity of their thinking and are sincere to the (real) corporate interests find it extremely difficult to conceal their frustrations in such working environments. They often clash with the interests of the corporate order—many do so with a poor understanding of the political situation. In the end—depending upon the level of seniority and political influence—they are either brow beaten into submission, contained but isolated or their employment is terminated. This usually happens after a lengthy war of attrition—often disguised in business parlance, so that unaware employees do not become suspicious and can be used as pawns in the ensuing power play—and the company’s resources, money and time are wasted in such pursuits.

Those problem fixers that survive the onslaught are intellectually scarred and find it difficult to solve problems. They procrastinate fearful that their solutions will be rejected by other employees who work under the shadow of the corporate order. Such problem fixers very quickly lose credibility and consign themselves to problems they cannot solve.

How to solve problems in politically charged companies?
If problems solvers truly want to solve problems in politically charged companies, then they must frame the problems in the context of the corporate order. But to do so, they must excel in three areas:
1. Develop a firm understanding of the corporate order and its political influence on the entire company.
2. Learn to think politically and not intellectually. Unlike intellectual thinking, political thinking has no rules. Its source is the statements and deeds of those who engage in politics at work. Techniques such as generalisation, modelling and analogies rarely work to uncover or counter the motives and plans of the corporate order. Conversely, the corporate order is apt at exploiting such techniques to imprison problem solvers in their thinking thereby rendering them impotent. Hence, it is incumbent upon the problem solver to build a profound understanding of all the major players at work, their domains of influence and how they manoeuvre politically to safeguard their interests. In sum the problem solver needs to possess a crystal clear picture about their political plans and actions.
3. The problem solver must have the courage to challenge the existing corporate order. Challenge here should not be confused with mere confrontation with the guardians of the corporate order that ultimately yields a compromise—this will never lead to proper change. At best the problem solver’s concerns will be accommodated by the corporate order, but at the mercy of to their terms and conditions. Moreover the problem solver will be regarded by other employees as a poodle of those executives under whose hegemony the corporate order thrives. To produce effective change the problem solver must expand the support base to include other executives willing to spearhead the cause, and then challenge the corporate order until it is reformed or reconstructed. This is a high risk strategy—failure will certainly spell the end of the problem solver, but success will usher in an era of genuine problem solving and propel the company to new heights.

Thinking Politically in Organizations
Quarterman Lee, Consultant, United States, Member
Excellent summary. The real problem is top leadership. Unfortunately, the corporate order rarely changes until the pain is to great to ignore. By then, it is usually too late for the organization.

Thinking Politically and Forming Alliances
Mike Foy, United Kingdom, Member
I couldn't agree more. I think though that it's also worth bearing in mind that the prevailing corporate order can be to some degree determined by the environment in which the industry sits e.g. central government regulation / intervention.
I agree that forming alliances rather than enemies is the least risky strategy in getting ideas accepted, acknowledging that this often results in an extended time frame.

Fighting Political Warfare
Nancy Roggen, OD and Professional Development , United States, Member
Building on what Lee Quarterman said, strong focused leadership can limit the damage of political warfare.
Unfortunately, all too often the senior leadership team spend their efforts all trying to justify their importance and salary by pulling in different directions. Each individual is trying to be the hero who "saves the company" with their solution.
The impact of constantly changing objectives and goals and lack of consistent and understandable processes make a successful implementation of any of the similar but just different enough solutions unlikely.
Without a strong leader to manage the egos the company is unlikely to survive this kind of rivalry.

Politics in Corporate Environment are Most Damaging for Middle and Lower Management
William Stadler, Manager, United States, Member
This type of thinking can be most damaging to the middle or lower management level of folk within a companies' structure - the ones who accomplish the tasks - as those folks are the ones with the least time to think about defending themselves, but who are genuinely interested in getting the job at hand completed.
Another couple of tricks that I have witnessed which are typical of political thinking is to delegate everything and to document very little (if anything).
This type environment I would argue often manifests itself in deleterious fashion in a lot of transitional companies in going from small to medium sized.

The Courage to Fight Politics in the Corporate Environment
Amit Dasgupta, Director, United States, Member
A very well articulated observation! The analysis is very pragmatic and if one wants to employ this technique should have high confidence in his/her competence as well as his/her core values.
A courageous action with conviction and passion to bring about a change for greater good for the company should be the focus not a personal agenda.

Leadership Selection Problem as a Root Cause
Tarcisio Bastos, Manager, Canada, Member
Should the selection process of leadership be considered as one of the premises for success rather than simply a demonstration of power by those who simply surround themselves by, most of time, loyal followers the organizations would, without a shadow of doubt be stronger, cohesive and sustainable.
Unfortunately the majority of the large corporations, and also medium size corporations, don't invest on a fair and unbiased leadership selection process and worse yet misuse some of the internal so called 360 degrees evaluation and other performance appraisal mechanisms that not just feed the flawed selection process but also intimidate most of the problem solvers.
Definitely top leaders of an organizations should walk the talk and apply some of the modern concepts of leadership therefore breaking this vicious circle before the damage is is too great, as appointed by Mike Foy.

Frustrated Change Agent
Kathleen Turner, United States, Member
@William Stadler: As a past strategist for Walmart, could not agree more! And would love to hear the group's best practices: interesting books: buy-in, knowing doing gap, and Accenture has a white paper on accelerating insights to action.
That said, in the end, seems like there is way to much inaction by the C-suite.

Politics is the Art of Compromise to Get Concensus on How to Move Forward?
John Nobel, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
Nice write up. To me it depends on what success looks like: is it about people, customers, shareholders, environment, values and culture?
People is first and means influencing others, which is why relationships/ networking are so important because often only those trusted can change minds, not necessarily a fantastic real options analysis or facts. That is not to discount rigor for processes, methods and tools which are important.
I am a firm believer in eco systems. Single source analysis, or a single lens approach to an issue is unlikely to result in the best outcomes.

Ego Management Critical to Minimizing Negative Political Environment
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
@Nancy Roggen: there are still companies that allow the egos to dominate, whether this is negatively affecting the company or not.
Flatter organization structures and the realization that traditional beaurocratic management methods have resulted in failure doesn't seem to affect some organizations. They are so entrenched in politics that they will continue to be oblivious.

Thinking Politically in a Government Agency
T Lee, Analyst, Australia, Member
Great post. I think there are a whole new set of issues though for middle managers in the government sector, which is inherently political.
The challenge for leaders and problem solvers alike in this setting is how to progress great ideas, and best practice, when there are competing political agendas.

Not a Game for Beginners
MICHAEL PETIT, PHD, Director, Australia, Member
An organisation is just like any other social system. Underpinning every social system is a power structure. Invariably the power structure determines what is a legitimate action, a legitimate way of thinking, a legitimate question to ask, a legitimate form of analysis etc.
Those that question or challenge the legitimacy of actions, behaviours, ideas, questions, or forms of analysis need to be aware that they are not just fighting one or two individuals or one or two influential groups, they are actually challenging the very basis upon which the social system operates. Anyone who doesn't understand this needs to read "The Structure of Scientific Revolution" by Thomas Kuhn.
Another word that is often associated with social systems is culture. Very few people seem to realise that an organisation's culture is actually the result of conflict. A conflict based on a drive for dominance that plays out on a symbolic level supported by an invisible power structure.
This is not a game for beginners.

Organization Politics can be both Helpful and Desctructive
Dr. Alan Williams, Professor, Thailand, Member
Organization politics is here to stay. It can be helpful to gain buy-in, get resources, etc, and of course it can be destructive.
A clever CEO knows the above and will be watching more for signs of destructive politics and should be addressing this if it occurs. I worked as a managing consultant alongside one such CEO for about one year. If he saw destructive politics, he would make a simple statement: "... this discussion is not focused at all on goal achievement or building value added strategy. Ladies and gentlemen, let's please get back to business..."
Those who didn't get his 'message' were quickly / privately counselled and told to ensure all their discussions were productive and focused. It worked very nicely.

How Corporate Order Politics are Affecting Solutions
RVRao, Management Consultant, India, Member
Mr Mustaffa''s detailed writing on this issue is not common in the corporate sector which is professionally managed by corporate leaders striving to achieve corporate goals.
So he should elaborate on what he means with "politics in corporate order", as I feel the corporate order is interested normally to keep the corporate interests intact and fulfill their responsibilities.

Leadership and Politics
Amyas Mvunelo, Director, South Africa, Member
Leadership by its very nature and inevitably political across all sectors.
All leaders must have a degree of political intelligence to know what is at stake with any decision and action. This does not call for leaders to be political activists, but to be politically aware. Leaders who become political activists, who participate in organisational politics, become members and activists of certain cliques and compromise their leadership.
Leaders must be aware, but be above organisational politics. They must keep informed about internal politics as these show themselves in meetings and other official decision making platforms and social interactions. The prevalent politics have the potential to frustrate organisational progress and effectiveness.

Thinking Politically in the Corporate Environment
Yahong. Liu, Manager, Member
I think an eligible manager should solve problems and provide appropriate solutions to the senior management for final decision.
A team should have excellent internal communication to let every one know where we are and what we are going to do. The task or goal weekly review is an essential communication tool. Whatever the organization is, the members should be face to face instead of back to back.
I like positive political skills instead of covering mistakes.

Universality of Human Disorders in Organization
VAN THIENEN, Teacher, France, Member
@Quarterman Lee: Very nice analysis. Unfortunately, problem solvers are very isolated and feel alone. Maybe, they are in that working position because they are the one who agree with this impossible position.

How to Solve Problems in Politically Charged Companies
Tezera woldemedhin, Turnaround Manager, Ethiopia, Member
I really appreciated the comment given by Abid Musteffa. It is a critical problem in most of the African nations. Political interference is here very big in both governmental organizations, NGOs and private organizations.
As Abid said, if you are thinking politically in your organization you are becoming a trojan horse or a political animal, instead of implementing your mission.

Good Synthesis of a Real Problem
Dario Gragnani, Manager, Italy, Member
The sad thing is that the problem solver must be something like a (super)hero.
We should also reflect on how to design companies in such a way that conditions are unfavorable for positional annuities.

Accept Custodians of the Corporate Order as a Universal Reality
Dominic Kingaby, United Kingdom, Member
I think this is a superb explanation of the corporate reality but rather than think of 'custodians of the corporate order' as an issue or problem, they should be accepted as a universal reality, and worked with, and influenced through constructive collaboration.

Politically Charged Organisation are Hard for Change Agents
Augustine Manyau, Student (MBA), Zimbabwe, Member
I think this is the most difficult task for all change agents who want to solve problems in an environment where the organisations are mainly quasi government structures. The agent is not only faced with corporate order issues, but real political barriers. @Tezera Woldemedhin : I agree it's quite a challenge in African set ups.

Non-competitive Environments Will Develop a Political Pyramid
Peter Condon, Coach, United Kingdom, Member
Abid Mustafa, excellent article thank you and good additional insight by @William Stadler. Have witnessed exactly this strategy in small company CEO as company grew rapidly.
Politics show in larger organisations as a pyramid built up of layers of political groups, with members aligned by similar interests and each group protecting what they have. It is a natural form of security for group members and becomes entrenched in static non-competitive environments such as education establishments. Thus problem solvers potentially have to pass many barriers in large static organisations (depending on the level of the problem solver in the organisation).
Is this why entrepreneurial initiatives are successful when they start-up?
I believe besotted = obsessed and occurs when there is no perceived threat to the organisation. Once entrenched it leads to the second definition = stupid or foolish (, and is very difficult to change/remove even under critical external threat.

Having the Courage to Challenge the (existing) Corporate Order
Marijan Vandekolk, Management Consultant, Member
Excellent observation of behaviour. I agree with you it´s common, all around and most destructive, and as a consultant I absolutely agree you have to challenge it. In my opinion as a consultant you only have two options, either face the challenge and adress it right there and then, or return the job given to you.
I rather go for a "corporate order war" as to face the certainty of a future "failure of the problem to be solved". No one will relate the failure to something else as to YOU and your abilities to solve a problem.

Environmental Impacts on Political Thinking
Qusai Mahgoub, Strategy Consultant, Sudan, Member
The environment (external) affects the decisions in the organization directly. I mean by the environment the economic system, regulations and policies that should be considered for best and continuous solution. Actually those are connected and linked with the values and intellectual backgrounds of the top managers who may think politically, based on the environment and politics trends.

People, Managers and Organizations Have Different Drivers and Values, Causing Different (Use of) Politics
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
When we're talking about politics in business organizations, it's useful to consider that employees, managers, leaders, departments, business units and entire organizations have different drivers (what makes them do certain things) and values (what they believe is most valuable). These values or drivers make them think and behave differently, and also they are the basis for different views towards the use of politics and the content of these politics.
If you're interested to understand more about what values and thinking preferences are causing the behavior of yourself (or your department), consider taking our management test (€159). Can be used as part of a change management inititive, or to assess a coporate culture.

Selfishness Sometimes Outweighs Any Other Consideration
JOSEPH SOLA ONIFADE, Manager, Nigeria, Member
The problems have been clearly enunciated. It is not that those who occupy leadership positions in organisations do not KNOW what to do to move their organisations to the next level.
Often times they are led by their selfish tendencies and the need to maintain the status quo. Things will improve in the work environment if the problem solvers in organisations consider and address the three suggestions proffered by Abid Mustafa.

Who Answers to the Corporate Political Thinking!
Ndlovu, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
These are wise observations and thoughts. My feeling is that senior management are the ones that will always think politically and answer to all politically deeds of the company, whereas the middle management does all the work and operations of the company.

Thinking Politically is Like Surfing
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
For sociologists, politics is the expression and application of power. It's in all relationships and social structures.
Thinking of politics as normal in our interactions may defuse a little of the emotion that gets generated in this discussions. In addition, we want to acknowledge that what is being called the corporate order in this discussion is just the current stage of an ongoing evolution.
Usually, only very young organizations, or perhaps those that just recently completed a "consultation", are ordered (i.e. organized) deliberately. But, what we're saying is it's not the formal (on paper) structure that drives what the organization does. It is the informal power structure that makes things happen and prevents things from happening.
The astute member of an organization will be more successful in initiating needed changes working with that informal structure. If you're in the ocean, you do much better riding the waves than opposing them. If you don't want to surf, stay in the pool.

Thinking Politically in a Corporate Environment
ALBAN ONWULIRI, Student (University), Nigeria, Member
In the corporate organization, the management team is established to think for the organization. The organizational thinkers who are also decision makers establish some set of goals and objectives peculiar to the business environment to enhance the efficiency of corporate organization.
Thinking politically therefore is a function of:
a) the type of leadership and charisma the man at the helm of affairs exhibits.
b) the type of followership he exudes, and
c) under what circumstance(s) is he exercising his leadership roles?
If the leader understands the prevailing organizational issues, the three factors above if well harnessed, will bring about a symbiotic, synergetic and systematic pattern in the corporate environment which will tend to play down on politics and focus on utilization of capacity to improve profitability and competitiveness.
If, on the contrary, he does not understand the prevailing organizational challenges, he tries to crave a niche for himself that he will use to be vindictive and dominating. The danger is then failure in the long run.

The Problem Solver May Be Wiped to Fall in Line
Yekini Iskilu, Accountant, Nigeria, Member
The issue is that serious, that the custodian of office order usually denies the problem solver what is due to him, in order to force him to abandon his mission. For example, his rights may suddenly become privileges.

Who Seeks Power and Why
Jim Carlin, United States, Member
Power corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It attracts those who do not examine their life - or anybody else.

Examine the Value System that Governs
Osama Kamal, Management Consultant, Egypt, Member
I appreciate how Abid explained and gave a clear picture of the struggle that happens in many systems.
But I think that if you work in an organization with poor corporate ethics, it's no use to fight against the majority who either fight for their gains, or watch carelessly while you are bleeding alone. At the end, they will let tears down on you saying you were just a good person, if they dare to say so.
My advice is to set your priorities and think strategically. If the system is polluted, just try to breathe fresh air from outside from time to time, relieve the pressure on yourself to survive. Carry the world upon your shoulder, but reasonably.

Live and Let Die: the Irony of Reality
Yemi Smith, Management Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Lovely piece. When personal interests supersede corporate interest, corporate order is what you get. It's a game of survival at all cost. Like Quarterman said, by the time the pain is too great to ignore, the damage has been done. A pity this permeates all strata of society.

Closely Linked with the Problem of Organisational Corruption
Chenemi, Student (University), South Africa, Member
@JOSEPH SOLA ONIFADE: I do strongly believe that the problem of selfishness is the one of the causes of organisational corruption. There is nothing as valuable as problems solvers who put the interest of the organisation first before private benefit.
Sometimes these wrong motivations make one not to see the importance of forming alliance before confronting a corporate.

The High Risk of Politics in Organisations Need Mitigation
Rantshoke David Makhema, Manager, South Africa, Member
I agree with the author. Such organisations governed by politics eventually die and are open to high level of corruption and affecting the economy. See the Revitalisation Model described by Wallace in R. J. Graham and R. L. Englund (2nd. Edition, p.20) to see how eventually change takes place when politics can no longer hold and radical action is needed to save the organisation.
In South Africa, transformation of the workplace in terms of the policy and legislation is compromised and the failures are seen in a racial form, another black failure, referring new and aspiring previously disadvantaged persons regardless of our abilities.

Politics and Problem Solving
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Politics is concerned with the management and accumulation of power.
The solution of business problems, issues and challenges is concerned with the improvement in efficiency of a business entity.
The two are both synergistic and competitive. The management of a business entity has, at all times, the power to curb politics in the organisation, but does not necessarily have much direct influence on the ability to address challenges.
The challenge, and its solution, lies directly in the hands of management. Politics thrives on disparity. Thus, in a business which is not united in its purpose, politics will thrive, while a close knit business unit will be almost devoid of political effect. Overall, the management of politics in a business organisation rests with management, and the less influential members must choose the extent to which they wish to dabble in the game. "If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen" or choose a really dedicated chef to work for!

Making Progress through Corporate Politics
Sriraman Nellissery Ananthanarayanan, Manager, Saudi Arabia, Member
Looks like we are taking into one aspect of management. We all work in comfort level and corporate politics is to work within allowed comfort level in each step.
We can make big changes staying within the political and cultural setup of organization if we use small steps to achieve a big goal.

Thinking Politically in the Corporate Environment
Salhat Abbasova, Manager, Azerbaijan, Member
A leader must choose the best strategy in order to ensure the further progress of the company.
Both intellectual and creative approaches and political thinking are necessary for organisational leaders. Whilst doing the same things by other people within the organisation should not be limited.
Indifference to the staff's interests and organisation's image and preference to the satisfaction of the external factors may lead the organisation destruction from the inside.

Thinking Politically in the Corporate Environment Grows with Experience
Namrata Ramchandra Shelar, India, Member
Thinking politically and not intellectually becomes an art through experience. I believe once we become an old player in this corporate order and start understanding thinking politically then and then only we can take the risk of broadening our supporters base to make a change in the order.

Politics May Radically Change the Management Structure
Adonis, Business Consultant, France, Member
Any company has to face new sociopolitical challenges and contexts. In a perspective to manage by culture & politics, internal & external collaborations must be correctly considered.
The ability to manipulate values and credos is necessary to extract richness and overcome complexity. To implement related management activities needs appropriate processes, because of the hidden counter-values.
As a consequence, trends, styles, methods, customs, and in general important changes, are to be tracked on an everyday basis.
Thus, conjuncture becomes important. What a nice application and perspective for authentic leadership.

Conditions for Engaging in Corporate Politics
leonard haggai oduori, Project Manager, Kenya, Member
The strategies for creating successful interventions in an organization are very much a product of the uniqueness of an individual.
If you are very competent in your career and have a stable economic background, fellow employees and senior managers will secretly admire you or even be jealous of you.
This will create an opportunity to easily form some informal group of followers who can buy into your ideas for change. The top managers will always be watching you but will fear to confront you or sack you from the organization because they fear losing your good skills and the wrath of your followers in the organization.
So do not engage in politics unless you know you have highly valued skills and have built a sound economic background for your fall back position. Otherwise, if you are an economic weakling, they will quickly dispose off your services at the first sign of trouble!

This Problem Can Only Be Changed from the Top Down
Roel van Tiel, Analyst, Netherlands, Member
Imho, in these types of companies, the only way to really change this is from the top. i.e. a strong CEO can keep it in check, like Dr. Alan Williams noted.
The problem, when faced with such an environment, is that the problems surmount at the operational level. And that even a broad support-base at that level won't change anything.
Key to accomplish a turnaround is therefore either showing to the CEO how detrimental this behavior is to the corporate goals, providing he is willing to be part of the solution and is not part of the problem.
If the total board of directors is part of the problem there is only one solution: get out and find another company. How to find out? A tell-tale sign is a lot of employees on tactical level (middle-management and specialists) leaving, while operation and strategic level remains unchanged.
This should be a wake-up call for the CEO to take affirmative action in the board-room itself, coupled with the behavior suggest by @Dr. Alan Williams.

Thinking Politically in the Auto Industry
Jose Luis Gallardo R, Manager, Mexico, Member
Unfortunately the evolution in this segment is slow, because not to many top managers want to change their style or leadership. However, the evolution in the last 10 years is better but not enough. Many political rules should be dealt with now.

Political Thinking May Promote Agility
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
Many organizations are normally slow in identifying the clients' requirements. A politician can identify and respond to customer requirements in a more speedy manner.
A company meeting was discussing revising their price structure for some services. Most intellectuals thought that increasing the price was inevitable, in order to improve the balance sheet. However, two politically minded people were able to pursue the whole group that they can stick with the same price and yet make more profit.
Their logic was expanding the customer base, politically speaking, improving the vote bank. If we allow political thinking within the organization, it is better as it may bring new dimensions and help the company to maintain agility.

Politically 'lost in Translations'
Marijan Vandekolk, Management Consultant, Member
@Dilip Khanal: I think we are getting "lost in translations" as we talk about 2 different kind of "political thinking".
I guess we have to keep in mind that political thinking is different from the "politics and intrigues" Abid Mustafa is talking about.
Political thinking as you described is absolutely necessary these days... But that is another political issue.

Every Individual is a Political Being
WINIFRED AMUGI, Student (MBA), Ghana, Member
Every individual is generally a political being and thus organisational politics cannot be ignored. The team leader should provide leadership in solving problems and thus the system must have a very good internal communication procedures and bringing on board every member of the organisation.
To this end, cliques and partisan internal political activism should be avoided for the success and corporate good.

Thinking Politically in Business is a Factor
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
@Winifred Amugi : you are "spot on" with the observation that every "individual is...a political being and thus organizational politics cannot be ignored."
But, we don't have to view it as always a hindrance to progress or success. It is merely a factor, an important factor, of the environment in which we operate.
In the same way, "cliques and partisan internal political activism" are natural, normal elements of our behavior. It might not always be possible to avoid them. However, it is almost always possible to use them.
We can spit our irritation into the wind and end up with something we'd rather not have all over our face. Or we can turn around, raise a sail, and "fly" forward.

Political Behavior is Evolutionary Heritage and Dependent on Cultural Context
Inken Lasar, Germany, Member
Excellent article – I agree that politics plays an important role in companies as well as everywhere else in life – in the end, following political motivations is nothing else than following the individuals’ or the group’s self-interest.
This is our evolutionary heritage – following egoistic interests as a means of survival – and is more or less pronounced in different cultures. Low context cultures like the USA and Germany tend to give more importance to bare facts – politics might be playing a less important role – whereas in high context cultures such as China, Japan and France, much information is in the way things are said rather than the facts themselves.
People from high context cultures are normally experts at analyzing and using politics to their advantage.
As Abid was saying, the politics of the prevailing corporate order can be a huge obstacle for any problem solver when trying to implement his course of action and he might need to resort to playing politics himself in order to succeed.

Politic and Problem Solving - Leadership is a Must
Sylvie Girard, Director, Canada, Member
Solving problems in a political environment is impossible without the power to influence the decision makers. This can only be achieved by finding, influencing and mobilizing the proper forces. Influencing is what separates "the men from the boys".
This can only be achieved with a clear vision of the solution and a list of benefits for the key stakeholders. Then the fun begins... But at least the door is open to make things happen.

Corporate Politcs and Organizational Thinking
edward sevume, Sweden, Member
I just finished reading a biography about Steve Jobs and one of the things that I realized was how good he was at politics at Apple. It dawned on me that politics in organizations is about who sets the agenda! At a time when Steve was not able to influence things at Apple, he was ousted. He learned his lesson years later when he came back to the company.
In a nutshell, who gets to the top of the company is very important in an organization. If you have manipulators at the helm of the organization, they will kill anything in order to preserve their positions(privileges)!
When a company culture allows processing thoughts outside the box and there is an open atmosphere of discussion (Steve tried this by building space where all folks from all sections could mingle and talk about anything) that eliminates political thinking that serves some few interested in preserving the status quo (Steve wondered how IBM and Microsoft were declining with all the great products). He thought a process organization was the solution.

Corporates and Politics
Ochora Onek, Student (MBA), Uganda, Member
Good article by Mustaffa. Corporate politics belie the desire for self actualization by the different players near the apex of the organization. This in turn plays out with middle managers who expect to get a good shot at the apex of management. The positive side to this is that the players will try to articulate models that will positively affect the organization to meet its objective as a way to state their case. It requires one to manipulate these models to achieve parity in the organization.

A Solution for the Problem Solver in a Political Environment...
Amit Deorukhkar, Project Manager, India, Member
The Problem Solver here will be at great risk and danger from Corporate Giants who play politically to safe guard their own gold in corporate world.
Well, the Problem Solver could position the identified problem and the team working on it to all big shots using a presentation (and/or an internal circulation or a web site). This can be made even more transparent via progress reports displayed to all.
This prevents players to manipulate the project and if they still do it, it would be clearly visible in the open.
So by making the issue, project, and team transparent to all, the Problem Solver can pose the problem as a benefit to these corporate politicians / big shots and take the credits for his capability and still survive unharmed.
Also, since he would have a fame as credible person capable to provide business solutions, he won't be browbeaten under the disguise of business parlance or by any similar resort.
Note that the Problem Solver would still need a high degree of guts working in such a political environment.

Master it Before Challenging It
Max Xiao, Manager, China, Member
@Namrata Ramchandra Shelar: The best way to change a thing is to master it at first.

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