"A turf-conscious manager [can] grind genius into gruel."
-- Thomas A. Stewart, Fortune magazine
Have you ever worked at a company where it felt like your skills, talents, and gifts were turning to mush? It's almost as though an invisible weight had been placed on your shoulders, making seemingly simple tasks take months instead of weeks – or even days.
In Territorial Games, author Annette Simmons exposes ten games that people play to control authority, information, and relationships. And it's these games that can turn your brilliance into a dull shade of oatmeal. As Annette points out, most managers aren't even aware that they're playing territorial games, because these territorial impulses have been ingrained into man.
At one time, territorial impulses helped early man survive a harsh environment. Imagine having to reclaim a piece of land that was needed for survival--everyday. Today, these impulses are counterproductive in business.
What can we do to counter territorial impulses that have developed over thousands of years? We can start by understanding that these games exist, because once you observe an invisible process you drain power from the process.
Understanding that it is a territorial game means you can just unplug the machine at the source instead of hacking away at invisible walls that disappear as soon as you get a good shot.In addition to the gift of territorial insight, Annette delivers several solutions to territorial games. With a World War II Naval story, she shows how drawing a bigger map erases the lines of territory:
Back then, destroyers had a maximum speed of 20 knots – except for one particular destroyer, which was commanded by Admiral Arleigh Burke. Apparently his destroyer could go an extra 5 knots over and above the maximum speed. How his engine room managed to perform over and above the fleet was wide speculation.
Folklore has it that the admiral realized that the engine room, 24 feet below the waterline, was cut off from all the action. Topside staff could hear artillery fire, see planes fighting, and experience the mission of the ship, firsthand. But below, shut off from any noise except for demands for more power, the guys of the engine room staff felt that they wouldn't be missed even if they didn't show up for chow. They didn't feel part of the action.
To remedy this, Admiral Burke wired the entire ship with a PA system over which was broadcast a blow-by-blow sportscast of everything that happened topside, complete with live sound effects. After that, when the engine room got a request for more power, the men knew why, they cared more, and they felt a part of the action. They had a bigger picture because they had more information.