Chapter 5. The Art of Organizational Manipulation

So far we’ve shown you how to handle the human side of you and your team. We’ve reviewed the basic people skills required for leading a team of engineers and the hazards of dealing with the threat of poisonous people. In addition to these skills, you also need to understand how to navigate good and poisonous companies alike. Most software engineers work in dysfunctional corporate bureaucracies and need to employ certain manipulative techniques to get things done effectively. Some people call this politics; others call it social engineering.

We call it organizational manipulation.

The Good, the Bad, and the Strategies

Big companies are complex organisms, and even the best require a GPS, a flashlight, and a dump truck full of breadcrumbs to navigate from one end of the company to the other.

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Navigating corporations can be daunting.

First we’ll cover how a team typically functions in an ideal company, and then we’ll discuss the various ways a dysfunctional company can put up roadblocks to your team’s success. We’ll review strategies for getting things done in both kinds of companies, and lastly, if all else fails, we’ll cover Plan B.

The Ideal: How a Team Ought to Function Within a Company

There are two levels of a properly functioning company: your manager, who you’ll deal with most of the time, and the corporation beyond your manager, which ...

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