Even though there is a lot that has been written about office politics before, there’s a secret that we have always kept to ourselves.
This is something which is not told too often.
It’s a technique that allows you to get the better of any opponent in just about every workplace situation.
Here it is a secret to winning at office politics
Own The Question. Always!
In an office, when trying to influence an organisational decision, most people work really hard to come up with iron clad reasons why the decision should be in their favour and not yours. They strengthen those arguments with footnotes, facts, and references.
However, you can emasculate all of that work and reduce it to total irrelevance simply by owning the question.
You see, every decision is an answer to a question: How do we fix this? Where should we buy this? How can we market this? Who’s the right vendor? In every case, the question defines the limits of the answer. Change the question, and those limitations slip away.
For example, suppose the CEO calls a staff meeting to discuss the recent loss of a big customer. The chief engineering officer builds a strong case that the company lost the account because the sales team screwed up and the marketing sucked.
The Tactic of Owning The Question
Both executives are sitting at the table with the CEO, ready to fix blame, when the chief sales officer walks in, sits down, and says: “The real question we need to answer is: How can we win that customer back?”
Bingo!! The carefully prepared finger-pointing is swept away, because rather than trying to own the answer, the CSO decided to own the question!
The true power of this technique is to own the question before it even gets asked. Do that, and you can almost always end up driving a decision that is favourable to your own agenda.
How It Works In Real Life Office Scenario
Now, if this happens in real life (we are sure this could be a case in any office). Suppose the Marketing Head wants the company to buy new iPads for the entire team. He asks the CFO, “Do we have the budget for 50 iPads?” and the answer is no.
All that Marketing Head can do at this point is argue about budget priorities.
But let’s suppose that instead of asking the usual question, the Marketing Head asked the CFO, “How much ROI is needed to justify a an INR 12,00,000/- equipment purchase?” In this case, the CFO will probably say something like, “INR 24,00,000/- in the first year.”
Now all the Marketing Head needs to do is prove that having iPads will result in an INR 24,00,000/- increase in yearly sales revenue. By owning the question, the Marketing Head got an answer that moves him closer to achieving his goals. His objective of getting the iPads for the team is met too.
Do you get the technique here?
We realize that these examples might seem a bit simplistic, but when you get right down to it, office politics aren’t really all that complicated. Decisions are almost always made within the parameters of whatever question is asked.
Own the question and you own the decision.
It’s really that simple!