Developing Political Intelligence about an organization (revised)

In January 2014,  past year, I began a series of short posts illustrating how to get executives to  develop  better political awareness.

In a widely read post in this series, I related to a lack of systematic initiation into organizational politics, resulting in talented and motivated people losing out to folks with more political acumen.

The goal of these posts has not been to prescribe behaviour, rather to illustrate a gamut of frequently observed political behaviours, both positive and negative. It is my belief that in the same way that young kids should not learn sex from watching porn stars, neither should young managers learn organizational politics by being screwed, or by listening to some idealistic consultant or coach describe organizational life as it “should” be.

This is final post series. In this post, I will relate to 5 question that should be addressed upon entering a new organization and/or a new role.

The answers to these 5 questions provide a  guide for a street-smart “initiation” into the inevitable political web that will encountered  in all organizations post 2008.

1) Who comprises the “power elite”?  This elite may be managers, board members, assistants,  wives, mistresses, technical heroes,etc.

2) What is the dominant way that executives really get things done? It may be lobbying, looking good, overpromising, being exact, being vague, serving someone’s agenda etc..

3) What does the organization really award? It may be ass-licking, innovation, blind loyalty, conservatism, heroism, not standing out etc.

4) What is the main gap between what the organization says it does, and what it really does? For example, it says it values service, but it really emphasis low cost of service and “slogan-ism”. This is probably the most important question of all.

5)To what extent are budgeting and planning exercises real and transparent ? Many very political organizations go thru budgeting and planning as ceremonies to please stakeholders, but in reality, the plans are not real and budgeting is an anthropological ceremony.

In the political coaching that I do with my clients, I tend to focus on 5 and 2.

You can follow me @AllonShevat

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