We know people are messy and awkward. We recognize that decisions aren’t as rational as they should be. We know things are not always as they seem. It begs the question: just how are we supposed to make it through all of this, get things done, and stay sane in the process? The good news is that there are things to which out for, and processes to follow, all of which add up to somewhat of a recipe for navigating the complex world of organizational politics.
There are untold levels of interpretation and perspective that shape our meaning, interactions and experiences. Making sense of these levels is the challenge. Understanding the dimensions that are at work, why they exist, and the nuances they bring to what is being said, how it is being said and what remains unsaid is fundamental. The good news is that there is structure at play that can help to uncover undercurrents, build meaning and provide perspective. The secret lies in knowing where to look.
Things are not always as they seem. While this is true enough, it belies a complexity of interaction and meaning that makes up the whole messy, awkward and complicated way that we communicate and collaborate as human beings. We use levels of meaning to obfuscate and deceive. But we also use them to find freedom and agency. Once we understand that, we open up a whole different perspective on power, play and opportunity.
We shape our own existence, and we define our own experience. While that might not be a popular sentiment, it’s no less real nor true. The biggest challenge is that we are often fundamentally aware of the underlying beliefs that create our experience. If we want to make a difference in the world, we may first need to make a difference in ourselves.
There is a lot written about getting work done. And a lot more about procrastination. When it comes to results, though, our ability to be successful depends largely on our perception of the situation.
Leading change is a challenging undertaking. In particular, we must as individuals find the confidence to lead in the face of indifference, uncertainty and sometimes outright opposition. One of the key influences on our motivation, and on our will to lead, is a curious quality called agency.