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Topics: Communications Management, Strategy
How have you leveraged Corporate Politics for the benefit of your project?
Network:10595



When the phrase “Corporate Politics” is used, it is generally stated in the detrimental sense. However, savvy PM’s can leverage corporate politics for the benefit of their project. In what situations have you used the “force” for good?
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Network:1558



I think any time you use referent power to help achieve project goals (rather than your own) it is not playing "bad politics". The issues usually arise when the politicking is to benefit oneself or to help pur project at the expense of overall organization success.
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Aug 21, 2019 2:32 PM
Stéphane Parent
...
As project managers, we are responsible to our project. Not the client, not our employer, just the project. That is our domain of responsibility.

My role should always be to put the project ahead of everything else. Somebody else higher than me has the responsbility for the client or for the organization. It's up to them to make these calls.

I've been asked at times by my managers to put on my "organization" hat. My answer is always "will it make me a better project manager?"
Network:101770



A large part of our responsibilities as project managers is to influence stakeholders. We would be remiss if we did not use all the tools at our disposal.

When you manage the client's largest project, it gives it a certain gravitas. Don't be surprised, if your project becomes the source of corporate politics.
Network:123936



George,

Stephane took those words out of my mouth (It is a metaphor). I can't agree with him more, well said.

Cheers,
RK
Network:101770



Aug 21, 2019 7:36 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
I think any time you use referent power to help achieve project goals (rather than your own) it is not playing "bad politics". The issues usually arise when the politicking is to benefit oneself or to help pur project at the expense of overall organization success.
As project managers, we are responsible to our project. Not the client, not our employer, just the project. That is our domain of responsibility.

My role should always be to put the project ahead of everything else. Somebody else higher than me has the responsbility for the client or for the organization. It's up to them to make these calls.

I've been asked at times by my managers to put on my "organization" hat. My answer is always "will it make me a better project manager?"
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Aug 22, 2019 7:34 AM
Kiron Bondale
...
My concern with that is that it ends breaking Deming's caution about optimizing a part without considering the whole. I've seen too many cases where PMs focused on their projects to the detriment of the other projects in their organization's portfolio and while there should be appropriate governance checks and balances to avoid this, those are rarely fully effective.
Network:558



Echoing the sentiments expressed by my colleagues.

Acknowledge that politics exists and focus just on achieving the objectives of your Project and navigate your way through the politics but try not to let it sway you or the project .

Don't waste time and energy on seeing whether you can use the politics to your advantage. You are a PM not a politician.
...
1 reply by George Freeman
Aug 21, 2019 9:44 PM
George Freeman
...
Deepesh,

Project Managers, especially those in larger enterprises are themselves a “political device” purposed to further the objectives of executive management - this statement is true even in mature PMO-driven organizations where PM’s have a high degree of shielding from political influences. In addition, the “project charter” is in practical terms a political device as well, as it empowers the PM (through politics) to accomplish a goal that would have been impossible to do under their own empowerment.

My point is, that the PM lives-in and is empowered by corporate politics - and simply stated, would likely not be employed without it. In my opinion, a PM needs to recognize this fact and then endeavor to understand how their role impacts and is used by the political spectrum within their organization.

I agree with you that a PM should be focused on achieving their objectives and simply be concerned to navigating through corporate politics when it is presented. However, that statement is picturesque for many PM’s who find that their sponsors have “not cleared a wide enough path” for their project to land safely. Hence the need (at times) to use the force for the benefit of the project.
Network:319



George,

In most regards, I hate office politics and try to avoid it. My personal PM "brand" is someone straightforward and not playing games. That being said, I have found that sometimes you can leverage corporate politics very well to steer project decisions.

As a PM in a large matrix organization, there is always a struggle over who is steering projects. It's not always the strong vs. weak, either but between separate functions as well. The ability to identify and speak the language of the decision makers can go a long way to getting the best outcome for both your project and organization.

I have fun stories about times when I got exactly what I wanted out of some kind of board decision, even though it looked like I was beaten up a bit, and re-directed. I didn't say, "Yes that's what I asked you for at the beginning." I just accepted it and moved along.

The decision makers were people who wanted to call the shots, and so I gave them the opportunities to direct "their" smart idea rather than approve mine. Now that it is their direction, everyone in the room paying attention, knows that they are all following my plan based on the explicit direction from their bosses.

Keith
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1 reply by George Freeman
Aug 21, 2019 9:51 PM
George Freeman
...
Well said, Keith. Speaking the language and knowing the art of “taking the perceived hit” makes all the difference when fighting-the-good-fight. I have also found it helpful to open up the door for an executive to “give you a hit” and then thank them for it. It does wonders for forward movement. :-)
Network:10595



Aug 21, 2019 7:22 PM
Replying to Deepesh Rammoorthy
...
Echoing the sentiments expressed by my colleagues.

Acknowledge that politics exists and focus just on achieving the objectives of your Project and navigate your way through the politics but try not to let it sway you or the project .

Don't waste time and energy on seeing whether you can use the politics to your advantage. You are a PM not a politician.
Deepesh,

Project Managers, especially those in larger enterprises are themselves a “political device” purposed to further the objectives of executive management - this statement is true even in mature PMO-driven organizations where PM’s have a high degree of shielding from political influences. In addition, the “project charter” is in practical terms a political device as well, as it empowers the PM (through politics) to accomplish a goal that would have been impossible to do under their own empowerment.

My point is, that the PM lives-in and is empowered by corporate politics - and simply stated, would likely not be employed without it. In my opinion, a PM needs to recognize this fact and then endeavor to understand how their role impacts and is used by the political spectrum within their organization.

I agree with you that a PM should be focused on achieving their objectives and simply be concerned to navigating through corporate politics when it is presented. However, that statement is picturesque for many PM’s who find that their sponsors have “not cleared a wide enough path” for their project to land safely. Hence the need (at times) to use the force for the benefit of the project.
Network:10595



Aug 21, 2019 9:29 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
George,

In most regards, I hate office politics and try to avoid it. My personal PM "brand" is someone straightforward and not playing games. That being said, I have found that sometimes you can leverage corporate politics very well to steer project decisions.

As a PM in a large matrix organization, there is always a struggle over who is steering projects. It's not always the strong vs. weak, either but between separate functions as well. The ability to identify and speak the language of the decision makers can go a long way to getting the best outcome for both your project and organization.

I have fun stories about times when I got exactly what I wanted out of some kind of board decision, even though it looked like I was beaten up a bit, and re-directed. I didn't say, "Yes that's what I asked you for at the beginning." I just accepted it and moved along.

The decision makers were people who wanted to call the shots, and so I gave them the opportunities to direct "their" smart idea rather than approve mine. Now that it is their direction, everyone in the room paying attention, knows that they are all following my plan based on the explicit direction from their bosses.

Keith
Well said, Keith. Speaking the language and knowing the art of “taking the perceived hit” makes all the difference when fighting-the-good-fight. I have also found it helpful to open up the door for an executive to “give you a hit” and then thank them for it. It does wonders for forward movement. :-)
Network:1558



Aug 21, 2019 2:32 PM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
As project managers, we are responsible to our project. Not the client, not our employer, just the project. That is our domain of responsibility.

My role should always be to put the project ahead of everything else. Somebody else higher than me has the responsbility for the client or for the organization. It's up to them to make these calls.

I've been asked at times by my managers to put on my "organization" hat. My answer is always "will it make me a better project manager?"
My concern with that is that it ends breaking Deming's caution about optimizing a part without considering the whole. I've seen too many cases where PMs focused on their projects to the detriment of the other projects in their organization's portfolio and while there should be appropriate governance checks and balances to avoid this, those are rarely fully effective.

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