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Office politics - good books


I was wondering what books people found to be useful on the topic of office politics in larger and large companies.

  Personally, I found satirical books incredibly insightful. These include "Peter principle" and all of the Dilbert books with text (not just comics).

Also, the movie "Office space" is quite educational as well.

Let's face it, being honest and hard-working is for suckers ...
These things just don't work anymore in the "real" world.

Any other pointers to good material on the subject?

Future cunning politician
Thursday, August 07, 2003

In the /. programming forum you find a book review posting for "The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World".

I read it about a year ago and thought the author did a pretty decent job of telling like it is.  Note: you probably won't learn any "Guerilla Tactics" by reading this book. Even so, I believe a book such as this one should be mandatory reading at all U.S. colleges that have a software engineering/computer science degree type of program.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, August 07, 2003

"Let's face it, being honest and hard-working is for suckers"

No, we'd just like the slackers to think that so they're easier to step on. :-)

Philo's five minute course on getting ahead in the office:
1) Be honest. Always be honest. Be brutally honest. Be the first one to offer yourself up when you screw up.
2) Because if you are honest 99.99% of the time, then that .01% of the time you really need to tell a whopper, they'll believe you.
3) Integrity. Deliver on what you promise, never promise what you can't deliver. Don't say "yes" when the answer should be "I'll find out." If you say "I'll find out" then find out and follow up.
4) Do it now. If you tell your boss or a peer you'll take care of something, make it your first priority; otherwise you'll forget about it. (see #3)
5) It's not backstabbing when you're telling the truth and the guy deserves it. Don't *guess* whose fault it was, but tell the boss if you know. (If it's really bad then you can go to the guy and do the "either you tell him or I will" thing).
6) Trust, but verify.
7) Assume nothing.
8) Follow up and check.
9) Always check the documentation. If someone says "we've always done it that way" RUN for the documentation. Develop a reputation for being the guy who always checks the documentation (less people lie to you then, and they're more likely to check it themselves first)
10) Don't blindside your boss. Postpone, hem, haw, offer to get back to the person, whatever, but do everything in your power to make sure your boss hears it from you before they hear it from their boss, the client, or the Washington Post.

That should do for now. Any questions?

Class dismissed.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, August 07, 2003

> Philo's five minute course on getting ahead in the office:

Brave words from one of the most famously fired people in the JoS forum. :P

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, August 07, 2003

"Brave words from one of the most famously fired people in the JoS forum."

If you've never been fired, then you must not be putting yourself out on the line. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, August 08, 2003

"Brave words from one of the most famously fired people in the JoS forum"

I call it "truth in advertising" [grin]

And a high five to Brad!!!

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 08, 2003

"

"Let's face it, being honest and hard-working is for suckers"

No, we'd just like the slackers to think that so they're easier to step on. :-)

"
Well we, people that you, Philo, call slackers, know that you know that we are slackers, and have no problem with you knowing that!

Guys like you can't stop us, we're the force, we're always existed and will exist!

All we need is one chance and your resistance is futile. We are the borg! You'll be assimilated.

Future cunning politician
Friday, August 08, 2003

Note: this reply isn't to Future cunning politician. It's for anyone else that might want good books on office politics. Anyone who thinks that "Office space' was educational and being a slacker is the roadmap to success isn't worth the effort.

Read "What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness" by Stanley Bing
( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0066620104/qid=1060318601/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-4530871-0576625?v=glance&s=books )

Read it even if you're not a slacker. It's a great book. Okay, it's not a "great" book, but it's a good summer reading book. It's filled with humorous accounts of those who've risen to the top by being assholes.

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman, Dalai Lama
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553375067/qid=1060318681/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-4530871-0576625

I can't personally vouch for this one, but it's been on my intended reading list for a long time. It's highly touted for understanding social groups and is supposed to be helpful with navigating office politics.

Nick
Friday, August 08, 2003

> If you've never been fired, then you must not be putting
> yourself out on the line. :)

Oh, I have been, and it was because I did the kinds of things Philo suggested. But it's not exactly what the original poster was asking for.

www.marktaw.com
Friday, August 08, 2003

Emotional Intelligence... I enjoyed this book but I don't think it's an Office Politics book.

Here's an idea. Read the kinds of books your manager probably reads, if your manager reads. Stuff like The Effective Exectutive, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and anything Amazon says people who read those books read. Read the Six Sigma stuff and the Jack Welsh book. Familiarize yourself with the PMI BOK - Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge.

Then you'll find yourself jibing with your boss more often, speaking more of the same language than your co-workers.

www.marktaw.com
Friday, August 08, 2003

Check out this old thread:
"Books on Office Politics"
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=12738&ixReplies=9

Yves
Friday, August 08, 2003

Excellent post Philo.

Ran Whittle
Friday, August 08, 2003

It's been awhile since I browsed "Cubicle Warfare".  As I remember, it cataloges a bunch of different stratagies (though more like caricatures) you can use to survive office politics.  One of them was "above it all" where you just present yourself as too good a person to get involved in that nonsense. Though: "Every tactic is covered; lying, sabotaging projects (and careers), brown-nosing/butt-kissing, buzzword management programs, manipulating political correctness, and even sleeping with management for fun and profit."

Keith Wright
Friday, August 08, 2003

I agree. Good post philo.  All good advice.  I shall take heed.

vince
Friday, August 08, 2003

Thanks to everybody who shared his/her views!

  I like Philo as a person, yet I do not see that his attitutes are that effective in life.

Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy to stay honest/hardworking/etc. guy, but I look around myself, and this approach just is not working ...

Can Philo please explain how his views are effective? He may feel strongly about them, but what about *reality* ?


 

Future cunning politician
Saturday, August 09, 2003

"Don't get me wrong, I'd be happy to stay honest/hardworking/etc. guy, but I look around myself, and this approach just is not working ..."

- This should not be your *approach*, these should be your principles in life.

Prakash S
Saturday, August 09, 2003

"This should not be your *approach*, these should be your principles in life."

Really? Is this written out somewhere or one gets hit by a lightning if he/she is not holding such principles? What is bad about being lying/deceptive/sleazy/sneaky/manipulating SOB
other than that it is labeled *wrong* by some?

Let's face it, the only thing that *practically* matters is survival and prosperity today and in the future. Paradoxically, being always honest is pretty much almost as bad in the long run as being a liar! This is because in both cases people will start avoiding you.

Thus pick your principles (masters) carefully!

Future cunning politician
Saturday, August 09, 2003

"What is bad about being lying/deceptive/sleazy/sneaky/manipulating SOB
other than that it is labeled *wrong* by some?"

Get caught, get fired.
Get caught, lose work.
Get caught, don't get the referral.
Get caught, go to jail.

Mind you, nowhere in my advice did I advocate looking out for anyone but number one. If you get an offer of promotion that should go to someone else, by all means take it. If you're offered a bonus for something that took ten minutes but everyone thinks you worked all weekend on, take it.

There is plenty of room for "put yourself first" in the rules I posted. You can do it all while being reliable, trustworthy, and having integrity.

Mind you, I honestly think I'm wasting my breath talking to you on this - you're a hopeless case if you think ethics are a waste of time. But maybe others will benefit. :-)

Philo

Philo
Sunday, August 10, 2003

Philo - "Mind you, I honestly think I'm wasting my breath talking to you on this - you're a hopeless case if you think ethics are a waste of time. But maybe others will benefit. :-)"

Well, don't be so dismissive Philo ... Especially considering that you've actually agreed with my previous post!

What you claim is that "lying/deceptive/sleazy/sneaky/manipulating SOB" won't survive long term. This is an important factor, which I've already aknowledged - "Let's face it, the only thing that *practically* matters is survival and prosperity today and in the future."

  Ethics and long term survivability are actually 2 different things. Note that you yourself advocated some of the shady (unethical?) things claiming that they were good because they gave one an edge in the game.

Honesty is mostly good for the long term perspective, although there are exceptions. Same goes with lying, which is mostly bad, yet on few occassions you'd better lie than tell the truth in order to survive/prosper.

Future cunning politician
Sunday, August 10, 2003

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