Skip to main content

Dimensions of Power: What can you influence, and how much?

How much power do you have in your organization? What dominates decisions in your company? Doing what's best or political considerations? How strong is the influence of the people doing the work vs the top managers?

I recently asked a project leader at a large organization about the weight of politics vs. substance in decision making. His response: they are of about equal importance. I wasn't really surprised. In fact, in all the years I have been coaching Agile teams, I have only once heard "It is the power of the argument rather than the positional power of the speakers which drives decisions."

OK, I work a lot with dysfunctional companies (who want to get better), but how many companies can claim that politics are substantially less important than substance in decision making?

What about the people in these organizations? The higher in the hierarchy you are, the more power you have. Does that mean as a mere employee that you have no influence? And what can people in high places really do with their power?

Certainly an influential manager can accelerate a career or make employee's life miserable, but often I get the impression that that is the limit of their power. Substantive decisions often require someone even higher up to or a lot of consensus building.

I have some theories, but before I publish them, I'd like to hear your experiences. What can you influence or decide? What can your managers decide (or not?) How important is politics in your decision making process?

Please comment or respond to my quick poll, How much influence do you have in your company?
Or better still, do both!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

10 Warning Signs, that your team is not self-organizing

How do you know that self-organization is working? The Bern Chapter of Scrum Breakfast Club looked into this questions, and identified the following warning signs (which I have taken the liberty of translating).

The team reports to the Scrum Master at the Daily ScrumPeople wait for instructions from the Scrum MasterTeam members don't hold each other responsible [for their commitments]The same impediment comes up twice"That's the way it is" => resignation"I" instead of "We"Flip charts are lonelyCulture of conflict-avoidanceDecisions processes are unclear, nor are they discussedPersonal goals are more important than team goals
To this list I would add my a couple of my favorites:
you don't see a triangle on the task board (not working according prioritization of stories)after the daily Scrum, people return directly to their desks (no collaboration)there are a least as many stories in progress as team members (no pairing)
P.S. You can join the …