RALPH  KENYON
EXTRAPOLATOR

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RALPH KENYON
EXTRAPOLATOR
SEP  9, 1977

POLITICS

  1. In a recent article in The Research Institute Personal Report for the Executive, The Four Keys to Political Success a theory of (organizational) "political success" was amorally depicted without regard for the nature of the context organization in which the theoretical scenario occurs. In order to reflect a proper value and to illustrate the relation to the organization context of "politics", a few ideas need be added. To present the various elements in their proper perspective and proportion, in (organizational) politics, an informal system of interactions among individuals overlays a formal organization delineating relationships, responsibility, and authority among positions.
  2. The individuals jockey more or less competitively for position and power. Whenever an individual advances a project or an idea, one must marshal allies (to support one or one's cause) - (fractional scheming for power and status). Each individual is engaged in the furtherance of one's own interests. Where "altruism" is a "good", the individual interests and purposes are covert while only "altruistic" purposes are advanced as justification for courses of action.
  3. In conflict, the two levels (overt and covert aspects), relate as Ambrose Bierce delineated: "Politics - A strife of interests Masquerading as a contest of principles". When the setting for this scenario is a public organization, Ambrose Bierce's alternate definition is immediately significant: "Politics - The conduct of public affairs for private advantage."
  4. As Jean Piaget depicts, individuals must achieve certain levels of epistemological complexity or ethical sophistication before the public-private dichotomy can be transcended. Those who are able to transcend the dichotomy and develop the aperspective synthesis are those who exhibit a self-control in proportion to their degree of attainment of the aperspective. Those who are "politically" most successful, on the other hand, do not demonstrate such self-control.
  5. Several identification features characterize the individuals who are adherents to the "political" thesis. Some of the less successful will overtly assert their beliefs; however, the more successful remain covert and must be inferred. Four activities are considered important for "political success"; the activities are: the "playing of the game", collecting information, improving the timing of efforts, and developing an "intuitive" feel for the political scenario.
  6. "Playing the game" is devoting proportionally more time and effort to the informal system of interactions, as compared to the formal position requirements - (visiting, gossiping, socializing, etc.) Collecting information provides the political player knowledge about his chosen environment. Ostensibly, any information about the relation of one's position to others and about the current, past, and projected or planned activities of the organization comprise knowledge of the "public affairs" of the organization which enables one to "perform one's duties". Covertly, any information depicting the informal system of interactions, the players, their purposes (ostensible and covert) and values, etc., enable one to assess and plan one's activities. Ideally, one uses others covert ends as means to one's own covert ends while, ostensibly, everyone "conducts the business of the organization".
  7. Improving one's "timing" essentially means learning when activities are conducted with the end of improving the proportion of successful achievement of one's covert ends. Much activity of this nature involves "swapping tales" about "cases" involving a political scenario. The more politically successful participants exchange "case" information without reference to any covert ends.
  8. Developing an "intuitive feel" for the developing scenario is simply cultivating the abduction function as applied in the informal interpersonal system. The four keys, time (to play), information, timing, and intuition are more generally applicable than the limited application herein, however in conjunction with the covert-overt purpose and dominance, provide an adequate instrument for the identification by inference of "major players".