Politics are the activities related to guiding or shaping the governance of a country, organization, or project.

No matter where you go, there will be politics. We may be acutely aware of politics right now because of an upcoming election in Canada, and an impending election in 2020 in the United States. It sometimes feels like politics is about making decisions that affect the constituents. Constituents could be employees at an organization, stakeholders in a project, or citizens of a country. Often we focus on the decisions that affect people directly. By viewing staff relations policy, resource constraints, or a tax hike, people often feel that choices are a direct result of someone winning at a political game.

Politics are the actions that shape governance, not always the decisions themselves. Developing governance means setting up the structures within your project for how the work is reported, paid for, and celebrated. Politics requires relationships and influence. Politics requires that you understand how the structures that you set up can affect the way that decisions are made, and the work will is done.

Don’t play politics to win a short-term decision. Politics should be used to create the gameboard for the next game that you play. It might not be a perfect hand for the next round, but if you continue to engage in politics in the right way, you can make the game board better for the series after that. Use politics for the benefit of people because you have shaped governance structures that always hold a person’s best interests at heart.

Definitions of Governance