Use Project Plumbing to Manage Corporate Politics

PMI Chicagoland Chapter

George Freeman, PMP, is a seasoned IT project manager and leader who has worked in the software industry for nearly four decades, including over 25 years of project management. He has significant experience and expertise in enterprise information systems, data, and business architectures, and is an advocate for “business and technical architectural awareness” among all project team members. Mr. Freeman has international and remote team experience, and has a passion for meta-modeling, domain-driven design, and “all things architecture.”

My perspective on corporate politics has evolved as I have retrospectively journeyed through the tapestry of projects which in-part has defined me as a project manager. While on this journey, over a decade ago, I came to realize that my chosen profession had a secret symbiotic relationship with my sworn enemy—corporate politics. In this article, I’ll share a strategy for dealing with political mayhem and challenge you to think differently about corporate politics within your organization. Ultimately we can only shape that which is in our control.

The role of project manager in corporate politics
Project culture views corporate politics as the “dark side,” a realm that a project manager should avoid at all costs. Although we recognize its existence, we tend to believe that our PMO, sponsor or our perfectly crafted charter will protect us from this perceived evil, but as most project professionals know, it rarely does.

That said, most project managers receive the following advice, “when corporate politics rears its head on your project, simply focus on your objectives and navigate around the land-mines, after-all it’s not your job to engage or be concerned with items of a political nature.” This pragmatic advice is procedurally right on target to our project values, but it often leaves a project manager hanging on a limb lacking the ability to gain traction from the …


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