Monday, November 25, 2013

The powers in an organization

This post is about the powers in an organization. It might sound a little "Machiavellish", but I hope the innovators can take it as a practical guide on how to make things happen in an organization. One might also think that powers, diplomacy and politics are things that do not belong to innovative organizations, but it is not so. Politics and diplomacy are normal parts of any organization that consists of human beings. For example did you hold trading negotiations with your brother/sister about candy, cleaning, money etc? If even brothers/sisters negotiate and argue about who makes decisions then it is only natural that organizations consisting of hundreds of people have similar processes. It is the transparency and the objectiveness of decision making that is important.

But now lets discuss the power that an Innovator needs to consider when trying to improve things. Firstly lets look at the formal and visible powers. There are three types of things that someone with a power can rule:
- The money
- The people
- The right to accept a solution, decision, process etc.
For example an Innovator might want to stop paying for Exchange licenses and change the E-mail platform then he needs acceptance for the following:
- A budget for changing the servers, systems
- Acceptance for getting help from the IT department - the time of the E-mail systems administrator
- General acceptance from the high-level management because they need to agree with all the employees about the change
- Depending on the organization also acceptance from IT security, IT architecture etc.

Besides formal powers there are also informal powers and leaders in an organization. Mostly the informal leaders are the same as the formal ones but in many cases you can notice that some of the formal leaders can influence more and some less. Sometimes there are specialists that are informal thought leaders in their areas and whose opinions are influental. There are also concrete ways on how to become an informal or a thought leader. I could suggest from my experience that learn a lot, work a lot, have success and most importantly be friends with as many people as possible work. Vice versa - if one tries to be smart and get to be influencial through intrigues and manipulation then the success can only be limited in time or one even loses all the trust built up with hard work.

What I want to say with all this is that the power structure is a part of any organization and one should not be afraid of "politics" - it is always there. However - good top managers build the structures so that decision making is transparent, honest and objective. Priorities are given to projects that show the best results not those that are the favoured by someone in the "inner circle".

For Innovators it is important not to get de-motivated by the power structure, the first/second/tenth "NO" and keep on going. It is important to gradually build up trust by doing great things and learning how the organization works. I would also recommend avoiding smart relationship tactics as much as possible and substitute that with learning to understand what others need and trying to help them in their quest forward.