Part Four on Power: Ok, so now what?
In part one through three on Power, we defined it, discussed the necessity of Power, and then named some good, bad, and new power structures. Now let's talk about what you do with that information.
For reference, here is the list of the power structures identified:
- The old guard power structure
- The channel power structure
- The lock company power structure
- The incumbent access control software company power structure
- The high security and then everyone else power structure
- The Associations power structure
- The project-based business model power structure
- The Big Tech power structure
- The VC backed startup power structure
- The End-User power structure
- The Product Marketing power structure
- The Specifier power structure
- The Industry Media power structure
- The Hardware power structure
- The "Open System" power structure
- The Way Manufacturers Go to Market power structure
Why it matters? In summary, this quote explains why going through the process matters.
"Don't fear failure; fear the absence of progress."
More on that later.
It matters because we do not celebrate the good parts enough and need to highlight what is working. We also fall victim to zombie working or "this is how it is" mentality, even when we know there is a need for better ways to get things done. Most of the existing power structures are esoteric, and naming them makes them a bit more real. Often, we either wait for our leaders to permit change, but what they need is for you to help highlight positive and improvement areas (name them). Most good leaders I have worked for empower their people to appreciate positive reinforcement of healthy processes and systems, value a well thought out dissenting view, and a proposal on improving things. I have also worked for some that would instead not do the work to improve continuously. So I get it.
Here is what I suggest no matter what company you work for, your role, or where you are at with your career when it comes to what you should do with power structures:
- Identify them. Look within yourself, your group, your company, and identify the power structures relevant to you and your business. Create the list and decide if they are valuable, should stay or go, and if there is an opportunity to extract a meaningful advantage for you, your company, or partners.
- Relevancy and gap analysis. Is the power structure relevant, and what is the gap analysis to move in that direction or away from it? Do you need a different product? Channel? Team? What would it take, and what is the return on doing so?
- What, if any, are the blockers? Could be a person, persons, institutional thinking, resources, or a long list of blockers. Do you need to build a coalition to help make change? What is the plan to change perspective, influence the difference, or at least knowingly challenge it?
- Have a point of view and push. Sometimes, especially when a power structure is new or from a contrarian view, you will need to believe it sincerely and have an exact point of view to fight the resistance. You will need that deep belief and point of view to give you the energy to push.
- Tell a story. Along with a point of view, telling a great story of why this power structure is needed, the positive impact, and if instead of an older power structure, how this new one will bring short term or long term exponential value is critical.
Executing, telling a great story, and having a strong perspective are vital leadership attributes.
As in many other parts of life, having a team that can share the perspective and tell the story makes invoking change easier. But that may not always be the case. Sometimes you have to go at it alone. Regardless of doing it as a group or doing it alone, my general advice is to (1) speak up and (2) respectfully challenge the conventional wisdom of how existing power structures are the only needed power structures.
Challenging and introducing new power structures comes down to how you want to work. For many, getting involved in summoning change and challenging power structures is not palatable. And that is ok. But for many deep down, it is what makes them love what they do and what gnaws at them when they see an opportunity for positive change not happen due to legacy thinking, lack of imagination, fear, or a long list of other possible reasons.
In many ways, "don't fear failure; fear the absence of progress."