Disruptive Technology and Balance of Power

From the An Influential Project Manager Blog
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Today, more than ever, a project manager needs to be an influencer. The purpose of this blog is to stimulate your journey towards greater influence. With influence, you can overcome the roadblocks thrown in your way, overcome opposition, align stakeholders and, enjoy your role even more. However, since I know you are busy, the posts here will be short (about a minute), thought provoking and also drive you towards action. Feel free to connect with me, ask me questions, and share what's good here.

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When change happens, or does not happen, often one of the big root causes is the power dynamics. Who is winning, and who is losing. 

If powerful people are going to lose out, what out, because they will likely try to block even the most rational and beneficial projects.

When powerful people are going to win from the change you are leading, they will move mountains to resource and support you.

Whatever project your are running, this is why is it necessary to understand the impact it could have on the power balances. It will highlight the challenges and the opportunities ahead.

Over the last few years, this has become even more extreme as the change agenda becomes more and more disruptive. 

A director I spoke with recently was responsible for driving the digital agenda, which would see the FTE count in his organisation fall from some 28,000 heads to less than 8,000 - if successfully implemented.

His problem? Convincing senior stakeholders to get on-board. 

Why would they? 

Most of their power, teams and resources would disappear, if not their own jobs. Far better for them to sit it out, let the organisation slowly decline for lack of innovation, so they get to retirement with a big fat pension pot.

 

More on this Topic


Review the OnDemand webinar Diagnosing Power Dynamics Around Your Project.

 

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It is always good to connect, so feel free to reach out to me either here on the Project Management website or on LinkedIn. See you soon!

 

Posted on: July 05, 2019 06:26 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Yesterday I was on a round table discussion on "stakeholder management". This very topic came up there as well.. Can we convince them with long term benefits ?

Bringing and keeping powerful stakeholders on board is key for implementation of change. Your have very well highlighted these areas.

Thanks a lot Colin !!

My pleasure Alok, and you are spot on. And remember, those who are powerful today may not be powerful tomorrow. As org. environment and strategy changes, so do the power sources. So, one also has to have an eye on the future and spot the those who are rising in power, and falling. Yes, you have to be agile!

Thanks Colin for further elaboration. You are absolutely right we have to be agile in understanding the dynamics of powerful sources and knowing their current position. Thanks a lot for your suggestions.

Hi Colin,

In disparate enterprises, executives often use projects as a tool to move their agenda ahead, recognizing their inability to break-through the kingdom-building politics in the executive corridors. So, I agree that it’s extremely important for a PM to understand the effect their project will have on the "power balance".

Another side effect of this scenario is what I call "epistemic subterfuge", which is the idea that individuals will rationally justify passive-aggressive behaviors to covertly achieve a contra goal to the one they are seemingly presenting themselves in "alignment with." In other words, those who believe they will lose power under a project will make it look like they are on-board, but in reality, they will use passive-aggressive behaviors to undermine the objectives of the project.

Great Post!

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