Or, it's not only who you know in the organization, but also what you know about how the organization works.
The ability to speak a language, use algebra, design and use complex processes or work with complex equipment requires all sorts of knowledge that is rarely known explicitly, even by expert practitioners. The same is true of the knowledge of "how" an organization works, it's real priorities and deeply held impressions. This "tacit knowledge" in the form of "rules" and "mental models" has far-reaching consequences and impacts our career futures.
I've always liked to pride myself in the fact that as a consultant I only lost three gigs over the past thirty years, often staying with clients for a couple decades. But in all three instances my failure was tied to the fact that I was simply unaware of the organizations' unique, tacit mental models--its "rules"--by which people worked.
In a previous post, I commented that knowing the organizations' gossip often held keys to figuring out the "rules" or "mental models." I learned that one way to get at these "rules" was to finish interviews with the question "how do you get in trouble in your organization?"
Some essential mental models
As a result of an in-depth study of two major organizations and an analysis of a dozen or so other organizations, I've learned that there are nearly a dozen issues providing potential for organizational rules or out-of-awareness mental models. Typically, however, a division or group won't hold tightly to more than 3 or 4 mental models built on these issues. But knowledge of those mental models can ...