Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 24, Issue 24;   June 12, 2024: Rescheduling: The Paradox of Politics

Rescheduling: The Paradox of Politics


When the current project schedule no longer leads to acceptable results, we must reschedule. Sometimes political factors compel us to not only delay our results, but also to produce those results in ways that accommodate organizational politics.
The Impossible Trident visual paradox

The Impossible Trident visual paradox, a member of the class of drawings known as impossible objects or optical illusions. Read about the history of this impossible object.

Politics plays a paradoxical role in rescheduling work because it can be both the cause of the need to reschedule, and the means by which we meet that need. Image (cc) by SA 4.0 and courtesy ByrdSeed LLC.

Organizational politics is what happens when we contend with each other for control or dominance, or when we work together to solve shared problems. Rescheduling collaborative work is one activity in which organizational politics plays two critical roles. The role that perhaps comes to mind first is cooperative political behavior. Cooperative political behavior is behavior in which we influence others — and allow others to influence us — to shift control of resources needed for producing the desired results.

A second role for political behavior related to rescheduling is perhaps less widely acknowledged. That role includes anti-cooperative political behavior. Anti-cooperative Although political behavior accounts for much of
our ability to reschedule when we need to, it
also accounts for much of the need to reschedule
political behavior is behavior in which we set our own parochial concerns ahead of others' concerns in order to achieve our own objectives. We do this even though — or sometimes because — we recognize that this choice can prevent others from achieving their objectives.

Anti-cooperative political behavior is relevant to rescheduling because it's often the source of the need to reschedule. Thus, although political behavior accounts for much of our ability to reschedule when we need to, it also accounts for much of the need to reschedule.

The paradox of the politics of scheduling

Politics thus has a paradoxical contribution to organizational scheduling. This paradox can seem at first to condemn organizations to an unending struggle to stamp out politics, but it actually provides a path to resolving itself.

Politics provides a resolution to this paradox as follows. If the people of an organization can acquire political mastery, they can guide their anti-cooperative behavior so as to reduce its harmful effects. And likewise, they can guide their cooperative behavior so as to enhance its beneficial effects.

Last words

To understand how to guide political behavior, we can examine that behavior at two scales. At the direct scale we make political choices that directly affect how one person (or one organizational unit) collaborates with one other person (or one other organizational unit). At the system scale, we make political choices that affect how systems of people or organizational units collaborate. Next time we'll survey those choices and the consequences of each, both at the direct scale and the system scale.  Rescheduling: the Politics of Choice Next issue in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Rescheduling: the Politics of Choice  Next Issue

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info

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