Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Career Warfare

I was lamenting to someone about the lack of a book on how to be a good office politician for engineers. That friend said, "There is one. It's called Career Warfare." With that, I was off to the library to pick up the book.

I'm glad I read the book, though I don't think it's actually very usable for engineers. It's clear to me that the kind of people who make CEO might be born, not made. For instance, D'Alessandro has this story from when he was 6 years old:
One winter day, Tony decided to revolt against my tyranny. He said, "I don't want to play with you any more. I'm going to play over here." And in the revolt, he cleaved off four kids into his own little gang.
I was very upset about these defections. But within a few days, Tony's gang wanted back into my gang. They said it wasn't any fun playing with Tony because there weren't enough kids.
Did I welcome them back? Absolutely not. They were out of the gang for the rest of the school year. I was 6 years old, but I froze them out without mercy. I already knew that banishment or death was the only reasonable punishment for traitors.
Clearly, A'Alessandro did not need a mentor to teach him about office politics: he arrived at the office to do battle, and most engineers having to deal with as consummate a politician as he is would probably fail.

Nevertheless, the book can benefit many engineers. The section on what managers want from you and what to expect from your managers in a quid pro quo is priceless. For instance, what does loyalty mean between manager and employee? What kind of bosses should you avoid working for? When should you be a whistle blower?

The book's filled with fantastic anecdotes, and worth reading just for those alone. I therefore recommend this book. Just don't expect that you'll be capable of applying those stories with the same amount of ruthlessness to your job.
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