Must You Play Games In The Office?

My basic nature is to value honesty and transparency and to move away from game playing. When it comes to the work world, there is a fine line here between dangerous naiveté and maliciousness. Machiavelli tells us games are inherent in human nature and we must become expert in playing them. Some say they don’t like the games, so they ignore them.

When I began my career, I was given a book Games Mother Never Taught You that discusses the games many are unaware of, but must know about, in order to succeed at work. It helped me navigate through the games I began experiencing at work.

What are games, when it comes to work? I think games are manipulations of people and circumstances towards a desired (frequently self-serving) end. Often, games are played in a secretive way, with only the person playing them or a small group of people, knowing what is happening and what the “rules” are. In the course of a game, it is common that people are manipulated and treated unfairly.

My best answer to the lead question of this blog post is no, you do not have to play games in the office. However, it behooves you to be aware of them, hone your skills to know when they are being played and know how to protect yourself and proceed within them. In a perfect world, we’d have transparency and honesty in our dealings. Alas, we do not live in a perfect world. Best that you accept the presence of games in your interactions with people and learn how to safeguard yourself, and your interests, when they are being played.

Who is holding a console in your workplace?


photo: Arvind Balaraman,

Dumbing Down Without Intending To

The Urban Dictionary defines Dumbing Down as:

The act of taking a product and watering down elements of it to make it appeal to a broader mass market. This often damages or destroys the very elements that gave the product any appeal in the first place.

As managers and leaders, we sometimes dumb down our work and products without direct intention to. How does this happen? I think a central reason is that we allow outside influences to trump our own commitment to quality and excellence. For example, there may be too much to do and you scrimp on quality, just to meet your deadlines. Or, there are “politics” involved in a project and you feel you have to please the various parties (watering down) to make the outcome palatable to them. Sometimes choosing to dumb down in this way is about being lazy. Instead of maintaining your commitment to quality and excellence, you take the easy road, detach from the project and decide to diminish the quality of the product, rather than hassle with others or find elusive solutions.

Dumbing down never serves you as a leader or manager. Have you dumbed down any of your work this year without intending to? What does your answer tell you about how you are leading?

photo: Stuart Miles,