Unwittingly playing The Game

Mar 21 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

I've never been one to play at politics in the work arena, but often here stories of its existence. It is hardly uncommon to hear conversations about a colleague getting some favor or equipment from higher ups because they knew how to play The Game. I often knowingly nod my head when told of these incidents without having any sweet clue what transpired. But everyone knows The Game, right?

Perhaps my obliviousness to these maneuvers has, however, led me into the position of being right in the middle of such circumstances. I recently remarked to a Person With Power that we could really use This Thing and they agreed that it would be useful to many and should be acquired. "Cool." I thought, "This might happen."

And something odd did happen. Person With Power told me they were going to put out an RFP for people to request Things. PWP then indicated that the proposals would be open for anyone to view and comment on to provide feedback. At the time I presumed that whichever Thing got the most positive response would be the Thing that was acquired. Seemed fair, I can hardly claim to want This Thing for reasons that would be broadly appreciated.

The RFP went out and many people spent time writing up proposals for Their Things. Meetings were had, discussions were had, opinions were supplied. There was no vote or formal measure of opinion, but feedback was requested and provided.

I recently had a meeting with PWP, who told me that they planned to buy This Thing and that I should get a write up together. It became apparent that PWP had every intention to buy This Thing from the start of the process, but wanted others to feel their Things had been considered prior to buying This Thing.

So simply by having my priorities aligned with PWP's and suggesting the right Thing, it looks like we will soon be acquiring This Thing. Bully for me. However, it leaves me uneasy that it comes at the expense of many people's time spent chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. While today I am the beneficiary, this is the kind of stuff that makes people jaded and I have certainly been burned before.

I wonder whether others will think I know how to play The Game.

13 responses so far

  • odyssey says:

    Dude, you are now a playa!

  • They sure will ! happy playing 😛

  • anon says:

    It sounds to me like the PWP was the one who was playing and you were nothing but a pawn, as was everyone else. You got lucky this time, because the PWP acted in your favor. I've heard of PWP's calling for "votes" on certain issues, but end up doing what they want regardless of the vote result. The "voting" was only a guise to get everyone to think that they may actually have a say in the matter, which may work out sometimes if the voting result happens to agree with the PWP's opinion. There is no getting around that we all seem to be working in a tyranny.

  • Bashir says:

    Well you can always try to give back your possibly ill-gotten gains. Refuse to play The Game by refusing any advantages you may (or suspect you may) have gotten though means that weren't totally 110% fair.

  • odyssey says:

    It sounds to me like the PWP was the one who was playing and you were nothing but a pawn, as was everyone else.

    That much is almost undoubtedly true. But that won't prevent PlS's colleagues viewing him as a PLAYA!

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Bashir, This Thing is not exactly mine to give back. Nor would it help me at all to attempt to do so.

  • gerty-z says:

    PLS FTW! woot!

  • rs says:

    I have wasted a lot of time writing internal proposals, which evetually went to top shots in the university and I know I am not a player yet.

  • Bashir says:

    Well, the situation is beyond your control. You probably won't be seen as a player so much as someone who crushes a lot. /hadto

  • Dr. O says:

    I've never understand this gripe, since it usually references people who stay in close communication with decision-makers (chairs, deans, POs, big-wig in your field, whatevs) and find ways of making them interested in things their interested in. Isn't it part of our job as PIs to be effective salesmen for our awesome science, along with all the resources we need to get it done?

  • Dr. O says:

    Holy crap, I can't write for jack-shit right now! Muchos apologies for the major grammar FAIL of that last comment. 😐

  • [...] PLS posted about "playing the game" and finding himself in the midst of players that make the big decisions [...]

  • becca says:

    Well, in fairness, it may be next time there is money PWP will remember those that did submit proposals.

    There may be a lesson there about how much time/energy should go into submitting proposals for anything where the review process is not understood though.

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