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Losing sleep over the political WIND WATCHERS?

#NimbleVlog Season 1 Episode 7Before moving to other topics, here is the final episode about the Ladder of Commitment & Resistance™ — one of our #nimble tools to work with and through the politics of change. ORCHANGO’s president & co-founder Edmond Mellina discusses the WIND WATCHERS. They are true “political animals” who would have no problem planting the proverbial knife in the back of change & transformation leaders if they can score political points by doing so…


Reading time: less than 5 minutes

This is the last episode of the #NimbleVlog focussed on the Ladder of Commitment & Resistance™ and we are left with the WIND WATCHERS.

I’m not talking about the bunch of folks throughout the organization that are going to [eventually] come onboard once just because a critical mass of people have been going up the Ladder. No no no, I’m talking here about the true “political animals”. The kind of folks in the organization that will have no problem planting the proverbial knife in your back if they can score political points as a result of it.

The Wind Watchers, they don’t care about the technical dimension [of change]. The only thing they are concerned about is the people dynamics among the powerful people. And right now it’s too early to tell. They don’t know if the powerful people are going to go up the Ladder, in that case they will support you; or if they are going to go down the Ladder, in that case they will plant a knife in your back. So right now they are in a wait-and-see mode. And they are going to watch where the political winds are going to blow – hence the name, the Wind Watchers.

So the first challenge with the Wind Watchers is that, excuse my French, but they are master bullshitters. So if you are new to the organization, or if you are new to this part of the organization [going through change], it’s going to be very hard initially to identify the political animals.

I’m thinking about one in particular that… I was new to the company, and pretty early on he came and he made me believe that he was actively campaigning for the change that we were working on. I discovered later on that he had actually been bullshitting me all along. And I had been warned by other people: “Be careful with him, he will have no problem throwing you under the bus.”

So if you are new to the organization and you don’t know the political players, you can do a couple of things: ask around; and also listen to your guts. Because these people can be dangerous. And I found that when I was dealing with this kind of people, without knowing they were political players yet, often I had a little nagging thing happening in my guts. This was my alarm raising a red flag telling me: “Be careful with this person.” So this is when I was asking around and confirming and observing and all this kind of things.

But the biggest trap with the Wind Watchers is to lose sleep over them. And again, it’s natural thing to do: they can be dangerous; they can throw you under the bus. Therefore, I know I’ve lost lots of hours of sleep worrying about the Wind Watchers. Big mistake!

As a result of these worrisome nights, I was reaching out to them. Bigger mistake!! Because there is nothing I can tell them that is going to change their mind.

The only thing I can do it to work the Ladder. And through the influence game manage to get powerful people up the Ladder. And then, overnight, the Wind Watchers are going to jump at the very top of the Ladder. And make sure the powerful people that are there now understand clearly that the Wind Watchers were at the top of the Ladder from day one. Because this way they can score maximum political points. That’s the way they do their political game, which is fine.

Once they are there by the way, they can be very useful. Because they have a very fine-tuned “political nose”. So, once they decide to support you because it makes sense for them politically to do so, they can be very helpful. Because they can help you understand how to bring other people onboard because they understand the political dynamics very well. And they know how to play the political game.

And working the Ladder, as we said in the original episode of this series, is a political game.

So, the morale of this episode today: forget about the Wind Watchers; please do not lose sleep over them; don’t try to convince them. Instead, get powerful people up the Ladder and then, magic will happen.

Next episode, we move away from the Ladder…

Previous episodes in this series about the Ladder

Playlist with all the #NimbleVlog episodes

Headshot Of Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO's President & Co-Founder

Edmond is ORCHANGO's president & co-founder.

He is internationally respected for his expertise in nimble change leadership and culture change. For the past 30 years, he has been executing strategic transformations, building agile capabilities, and advising clients across sectors in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

He is a former corporate transformation executive in drastically changing industries: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; and VP Corporate Development & General Manager USA for the technology business of Envoy Communication Group when design and marketing agencies started to become digital.

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