The delicate art of politics, science and management
By Chris Morris, STFC.
In science politics, is it an advantage to get the science right? Of course, the answer to this question is yes (if you work for an organisation where this is not the case, it's time to look for a new job). The question is an adaption of Machiavelli's question about morality and war. To adapt his extended answer, if you are overconfident in this advantage, you can turn it into a disadvantage by forgetting to pay attention to the beliefs, interests, and wishes of the people around you.
Some people seem to think there is a hidden process called politics, which is separate from their work (they're the type that always have a new rumour to pass on). My impression is that this attitude makes people less effective in their work - including the political parts of it. Management is well defined by Barry Mintzberg as the art of getting things done by people in organisations. Some things get done through the exercise of power. The rest is politics. When you are managing people, it's all about the power of persuasion.
Tell the truth; listen; seek win-win solutions; when you can't make everyone happy, go with the science. It's a simple approach, but it works for me.
Posted by Simon Hettrick on Friday 1 June 2012.