Thursday, June 23, 2011

Picking your battles

Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown University, has well-honed political skills, including knowing whom to consult; choosing her battles; and carefully building support. She uses these skills to carry out her vision for the University. How can you use these skills to advance your vision and your career? We have talked about consultation. Let's look at picking your battles when you tackle change within your organization or focus on your individual career goals.

There is no simple formula for deciding when to push against the usual resistance to change or when to sit back. You have to analyze each situation on its own facts and merits. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. What is at stake? Will the contemplated change lead to significant improvement? What are the risks of failure? Who are the stakeholders and how committed are they to the status quo? What change strategies are open to you? Do you have strong allies?

There are always risks to being a change agent, and the possible downside can be scary. Nothing is won without taking a chance, however. Be smart about picking your battles, and you will greatly increase your chances of success. Good luck!

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