If you are working for an organisation, in a lot of cases, you are feeling ‘ over-ruled ‘.
The rant here is that we are not prepared. We labour under the delusion that we must ‘ wait our turn ‘…that we must ‘ work our way up the organizational ladder‘. But the decimation of hierarchies, the deconstruction of career ladders, and the redefinition of Work-Of -Value make that a false- nay, a dangerous- assumption. The idea should be to Grasp The Nettle right at the beginning of every job | assignment. We must appreciate the power that comes with being ‘ powerless ‘… and turn every mundane task into a Remarkable (WOW!) Project.
A small aside here if you want to a do a little more deep dive about being powerful or powerless- read here
Often times in corporate corridors you will hear this refrain ” But I don’t have the power “- (you can’t see my eyes roll here and I am brought up in a manner where expletives are not encouraged, so I stay quiet). But inside I am flipping. You know why. Imagine, Martin Luther King Jr saying, ” Civil Rights is Cool, but I don’t have the power ” or Mahatma Gandhi saying, ” The Brits stink, but I don’t have the power ” .
Now, intellectually, I am aware that ” I don’t have the power ” is a fair but sadly ubiquitous representation of the times we are in. Still talk like that gets my dander up. Sorry!
The Power of “Powerless” Thinking– Getting things done is not about formal power or official rank. It is all about Passion + Imagination + Persistence. Imagine you have a seriously cool idea. The very worst thing you can do(probably the biggest waste of time in the world) is to try and sell that idea up the ‘ chain of command ‘. Doing so will only officially remind you how ‘ powerless ‘ you are.
So, what is the ‘ chain of command ‘? It is a bunch of people who have been promoted for skillfully adhering to ‘ the certified-pure way we do things here‘. In other words, they are the Designated and Appointed Guardians of Yesterday. For your purposes- as a powerless junior type with a Seriously Cool Idea- the ‘chain of command‘ might as well be a chain gang.
What I am encouraging here to do is engage in a direct frontal attack on the Holy Authority of Today’s Bosses. Oops!! The power of the ‘ powerless ‘ lies in what one can call ‘ Boss-free Implementation ‘. In other words: What ‘ they ‘ can’t see, ‘ they ‘ can’t kill.
As a lowly person on the organization’s totem pole, powerless to create your own WOW project. But if you look around you will see some non WOW projects that you can re-frame in a way that you remain under the radar for the Boss-Free-Implementation of a Seriously Cool Idea.
Every small project contains the DNA of the entire enterprise. In sum, you don’t need an Officially Big Project to attack a Very Big Real Opportunity.
Like most things in life, the meaning of a project is all about…attitude. Is it a chore..or is it a chance– a chance to do Something Great? How we answer that question says everything about who we are and how we see the world.
If I come across as Prescribing a Manual for Radicals, so be it. I am not apologising. The message: Getting Things Done That Fly In The Face Of Conventional Wisdom is a Matter of Energetic and Persistent Community Organising, a Matter of Unearthing and Engaging Passionate Others( who previously viewed themselves as…yes…’powerless‘).
As Roseanne Barr quoted ” Nobody gives you power. You just take it “.