Section F Politics in Projects

“Politics is not an exact science …but an art. The art of the possible.”

Composite from speeches by Otto Von Bismarck, 1863 and 1884

“Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”

Remark by Sir Winston Churchill, 1920

Like it or not, as a project manager, you will be involved in politics, and whatever your view, you cannot avoid it. Politics will be far more prevalent in a multi‐project business environment than in companies in the technological industries with strong project cultures. This section tries to address both environments.

Here are a few ways of looking at politics:

  • The art of winning (the argument)
  • The art of getting things done through people
  • How to block or stop things getting done
  • The pursuit of power
  • A waste of my time
  • Using different forms of power to get your way
  • Playing the game
  • Avoiding confronting difficult issues
  • Getting people with different and hidden agendas to agree
  • Understanding and influencing key players to bring them around to your way of thinking

There are two ways of approaching politics on a project. If the objective is to meet one's own need at the expense of another, then you are likely to be engaged in political manipulation. If, on the other hand, you are attempting to meet project needs, as well as the other person's need, you are likely to be engaged in influencing.

Effective project managers develop their political ...

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