Office Politics is Worth Understanding

Scott Berkun’s excellent book, The Art of Project Management, contains a chapter on ‘Power and politics’. In it, he describes a realisation he had - from thinking that politics was something practised by selfish and evil people, to thinking that it was a useful skill to develop - something everyone does, for better or worse.

His prose convinced me, and I am encouraging myself not to put things I don’t like down to ‘politics’ but instead to try and understand them at a deeper level. I think there is a great temptation to put problems and shortcomings down to politics, without realising that it’s part of the way human beings interact and not something that’s disposable, however ‘nice’ everyone is. Ignoring it is intellectual laziness. I think the reason I found it hard to face up to this truth before was that I thought I didn’t understand politics, but Scott makes it easy - with descriptions of different types of power, where it comes from, and how to influence those who have it. Practicing politics is still hard, but it’s worth trying to improve one’s skill.

(Note: I’m talking mostly about office politics here, but some of the lessons carry outside that domain - that’s just where I have most experience).


Thanks for your comments. I hadn't come across your blog before but it looks like you cover some similar subjects; looks pretty interesting. I've added it to my reading list!
Good observations, Andrew. Office politics sometimes lend themselves to people jumping to premature conclusions about behavior, about motives, and about results. Too few of us take the time to step back and objectively assess the situation to determine an intelligent response. Sounds like you're well on your way to enlightenment. Great post.