Here’s A Wild Idea: Stop Playing Stupid Games (i.e. Politics Over Projects)

“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes” is the phrase a client uttered to me earlier this week…

He was talking about the (yet another) digital transformation that had failed so badly that it cost every management level between him and the board their jobs.

What happened?

Well, in many ways it’s the same old story – organisational leadership were too concerned with playing politics over creating change.

Hidden agendas, fragile egos, teams of ‘yes-people’ and territory disputes all undermined their success. I’d also make the educated guess that the entire transformational program had shaky core foundations to start with – because they almost always do.

And that’s the thing – you can’t drive real meaningful change success with big lofty outcome statements and political games… but you can sabotage your career with them.

Are you playing politics (obtuse, lofty outcomes and pie-in-the-sky plans) or creating change (translating actual value into reality)?

Something To Ponder: Challenging Group Think

One of the key things that these lines of leadership did in this messy, failed digital transformation was surround themselves with groups of ‘yes-people’ – even to the point of eliminating the jobs of anyone who spoke an alternative, risk based view. Their head of PMO was one such casualty.

From the outside looking in – it’s so easy to see how dangerous that is.

But when you’re in the thick of it – where do you draw the line between resistance, dissent and valid objection?

On a practical level it’s a matter of value-alignment. Does this person align and agree with the strategic WHY of your change? (Assuming you haven’t created a circular WHY like “we need a new database because our database is old”)

If yes – then challenge should be welcomed and explored.

If no – then why not? Is it fear? Is it displacement? – or do their work values and agenda lie elsewhere?

You can then act accordingly.

This is the power of getting the WHY right upfront. It’s not hard, and yet so many change efforts simply overlook it… Crazy really.

How are you challenging group think in your change?