Saturday, October 20, 2012

Office Politics and Wrestling with Pigs

Mark McCormack achieved worldwide recognition for his best-selling book "What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School." But I've enjoyed even more his 2000 book "Never Wrestle with a Pig - and Ninety Other Ideas to Build Your Business and Career." Almost all of his nearly 100 essays are about developing the people skills and long-term relationships that we all need to make our businesses succeed.

Part 4 of McCormack's book deals with office politics. With most of us working for one- or two-person companies, it might seem that we don't have to think much about office politics.

Truth is, we all deal with other people, even if they don't work in our office. We have eCommerce providers, colleagues, friends, relatives, employees, and even competitors. And our relationships with them matter. Lots.

McCormack believes that every enterprise - even the one-person microISV, I'm sure he would say - needs teamwork to succeed. I agree. I think building a team of stakeholders is the only way to succeed in the software development industry.

The author lists a number of characteristics to look for when building your team. Translated into the software development industry, McCormack's ideas include -
  • Find people who truly want you to succeed. Friends, family members, and employees are great candidates.
  • Identify team members who are not mirror images of yourself. You need people with complementary talents to help you make your microISV a success. Perhaps your website sales presentation is too technical. A fellow software developer is not the ideal person to ask about this potential problem.
  • Loyalty matters. Surround yourself with people who will be there when you find yourself in trouble. Or when you have pressing questions and you need tough answers.
  • Spend time with people who generate good ideas, good sales leads, and good contacts for your business. Feed them good ideas, and tap them for their insights.
  • Share ideas with people you can trust.
  • Surround yourself with people who are saying good things in public about you, your company, and your products/services. Cross-post on each other's blogs. Write articles for each other's newsletters. Find ways to strengthen each other's businesses.
You need a team to succeed. Find colleagues, employees, contractors, beta testers, eCommerce companies, marketing specialists, bankers, and tax professionals that you can count on.

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