Politics Trumps Ability..

..about 80% of the time. By politics I mean the machinations that people use to influence other people. I prefer to keep the negative connotation that is often associated with the word.

This is relevant when you are in a forum where more than 2 people come together, whether in politics proper or in large organizations.

When you are stuck on the wrong end of this equation, you have a few ways to go forward.

To Engage or Not To Engage

i) Wait it out – Change is constant. Even the tyrant will pass one day. If feasible, stay out of sight and stay away from the mess. Do the minimum. Seek consensus in everything you do, be a minion. Check every box and bow to every stranger. Bide your time and be prepared to rise up when the situation changes. But ensure the playing the role of a minion does not make you one.

ii) Adopt the methods – If you feel up to it, possess the ability to think through motivations of people and divine their intent then this approach is for you. You need to have built a cachet of people relationships and accumulated social credits over a period of time. Not something you can switch on and just do. You need the stomach for it. The ability to possess a double tongue is key. But this option is cancerous, unless its influence is checked one can turn into something else.

iii) Refuse to play – The easiest option is to refuse to play their game and move on. And perhaps the most difficult too, especially if you lack alternatives or the support to sustain yourself.

And remember, this is a fact of life and there is no wishing it away. It would be naïve to wish for an ideal world where transparency and honesty are the norm. Plato wished for an Utopia but as the times since can attest, it has not moved an inch towards reality.


  1. Mahesh,

    Though we come roughly from the same end of the equation, there is one other possibility that I wish to place on the table. This is especially true if someone has started skewing up to option#3.

    Pick it up: If you have spent a fair amount of time in an organization, it is likely you know of some projects that people have tried and failed. At any point of time there are exactly “x” such projects (where x = t log[root(N)], N = number of employees in the firm, t=months you have spent in the firm) available in a firm! Pick one that is closest to you and start working on it. Reach out to people, go out and meet clients, suppliers, clients’ clients – whoever. There is no downside – you lose nothing by failing. On the upside – you can learn a lot. Someone in the firm you interact might get bumped up and you have an instant ally in upper echelon. If the project you have selected is about developing a tool or product, you will have something even more concrete to show.

    • Subrata,
      First of all thanks for visiting and the comment 🙂

      Really like this option. And as you rightly point out everything organization has stuff it has tried to do but not got far with it. Driving the idea, especially the conversations with all the value chain participants, is definitely the way to go. Makes one feel empowered too.

      But at the same time, this notion of having to wait for someone to get bumped up for the idea to get traction is what troubles me. Makes one feel a little out of control. I perfectly understand if a client or the marketplace decides to give the product, or even myself, the thumbs down..that is the prerogative of the customer. But to have to wait for an internal alignment to gain support, especially in the software product industry, seems too old-world. What do you think?

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