O'Reilly logo

The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

16.3. The misuse of power

"If you don't know what you are doing, what will deliver which value to whom, and how it will be implemented, the project self-organizes around some other goal or goals. Typically, political wrangling of some kind erupts. This guarantees pointlessness."

James Bullock, from Roundtable on Project Management

When we talk about politics as an evil thing, we usually really mean misuse of power. I define a misuse of power as any action that doesn't serve the greater good of the project and the people in it.(3) Because sources of power are natural, and the use of it to influence and drive decisions is a by-product of team-based work, those things can't be evil in and of themselves. It's impossible to work on a project without individuals who are trying to influence others and use their own power to move the project forward. (In fact, as we'll examine, the open discussion and debate of ideas is healthy and positive toward making better decisions and working effectively, simultaneously minimizing politics.)

Misuse of power then occurs when an individual is working toward his own interests. For example, in Figure 16-1, the goals of an individual correspond only loosely to the goals for the project. Much of his energy will be spent doing what is best for him, instead of what is best for the project as a whole. This represents a failure of leadership and management to better align individual and team goals (and rewards) with project goals. To be fair to leaders, ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required