Office politics – is documentation or lunch the way to win?

Go for the throat office politics can be won.  The bureaucrats can be defeated.  Here is how I did it once.

I was on a team of outsiders making massive updates to their computer system.  Every time we went around one of their team members, they sent us an email.  If we didn’t do things their way, we got an email.  We got a lot of emails.

The president of the company was a figurehead.  The VP of Operations from out of town was the person who had funded the company.  He wasn’t the head, he was the leader.  He actually had the power to fire the president.

Things finally came to a head when we were about to finish the project one week late.  We had charged an extra $300,000 and were 15% over budget.  All the over budget charges were for taking over jobs that the staff just wasn’t getting done.

The staff figured they had us up against a wall.  They wanted our blood. We were going to be a week late.  We had made them look bad.  They had undeniable documentation of all our failings and our failure to listen.

So we called a meeting with the VP, the staff, and our team of outsiders for 11:30 AM.  The VP had to fly in from out of state to attend.  The staff was sure we would be crucified.

He got in and we sat down.  The head of the staff had a stack of emails 3 inches thick that he had printed out.  Proof!  He handed it to the VP.

The VP asked, “Will the system go live in a week?”

“Yes,” said the staff head.

“Will it work well enough to keep the company running?”

“Yes, but they…”

“Were you able to test the system they put in?”

“Yes, but they…”

“Did they charge us for anything they didn’t do?”

“No, but they didn’t do what they were supposed to.  I’ve got documentation here.”

“But they got done what we needed.  They finished the job that had to get done.  It’s lunch time.  I’m going to lunch.  Who wants to come with me?”

The meeting was over.  How had we won?  Politics.

I kept in phone contact with the VP.  I kept asking him what he wanted done.  I told him, that it would be expensive.  I told him his staff was getting in our way.  Every time I called, I had a solution to a problem.  I also kept reminding him of how expensive it would be if we failed.

The staff just kept sending him emails.

He listened to me because I had solutions to his problems.  He ignored the staff because they just whined. He was also hungry and the meeting was right before lunch, so he had no desire to listen to whining.

Be the person who brings solutions and gets things done, and you will notice that office politics shatter around you.  No one can beat you because you get the most important stuff done.

Think about it.  How does that apply to you?

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