Corporate politics are everywhere. They inflict every company. In fact, you'd be hard put to find a senior manager out there who has completely avoided the fray. Depending how far you make it up the corporate - http://www.reddit.com/r/howto/search?q=corporate ladder, you'll feel the heat the higher up you go. Executives and professionals talk about it all the time, especially over cocktails, but rarely in formal discussions or meetings. And if you are running a new business in a large company that is developing or trying to develop a product or solution that is disruptive to the mainstream business, then you are likely drowning in corporate politics. That certainly was my personal experience in running a business group that was creating new computers and devices for people living at the bottom of the pyramid. Any product we created would match Clayton Christensen's definition of a disruptive innovation: i.e. compared to the PC, it would be more affordable - http://www.purevolume.com/search?keyword=affordable (cheaper), easier to use (addressing computer/tech literacy issues), and have a unique value nonexistent in PC's today.
How did it turn out for https://www.metafilter.com/47404/Trust-Cancels-Fear - https://www.metafilter.com/47404/Trust-Cancels-Fear me? Not great. I walked in with open eyes, having seen politics in action before and having navigated through it successfully to get things done. I knew it would be a tough slog given what we were doing, but I was still blindsided by the intensity of driving a disruptive business. There are "good" politics, and there are "bad" politics. Good politics are when someone needs to work the system (e.g. culture, personalities, organizational silos) to achieve business objectives that are GOOD for the company (e.g. bringing in new revenue, growth, profit, and satisfied customers). Bad politics are when someone works the same system to make themselves look good. The moral of the story is obviously to practice good politics and avoid the bad. I really hate to use the word enemy, as my "people" philosophy tends to be more on the trusting side.
But these folks see YOU as the enemy; as competition for whatever that future lucrative position or promotion may be. And a hint: they are right in a way. As you move higher up in the company, there are fewer positions to go around. So let me present five characteristics of the negative politicians I've observed over the years. Self promote. They go out of their way internally to promote themselves under the auspices of promoting their business or product. If they blog or publish internal articles about something related to their business group, you'll see subliminal hints of-self promotion. Manage up. They typically withhold negative information about their business to their bosses and selectively spin things for the positive. Use information as power. They may use confidential (or what they position as confidential) business information about a part of the business they are involved in to enhance credibility. For example, in a meeting with other senior managers they'll divulge some decisions or strategies that they know will captivate their audience.
Become "buddies" with the powers-that-be. They tend to actively network with the key movers and shakers within the company. If the executive suite tends to be political as well, you can bet that they have found ways to endear themselves to the company's top dogs. Spread disinformation about potential "competitors." They quietly spread rumors and/or misinformation about someone that may threaten them career-wise, or against the business that person runs. If reading these five characteristics makes your stomach clench, either in principle or because you've seen them in action, the next question you are likely asking is how do I stay away from these folks? Short answer: You can't. Long answer: Learn to work within "the company of wolves," regardless of whether the intensity of politics is low or high. And I think you can do this without sinking to their their level. I am in no way the expert on the best way to navigate these waters, but I have learned from past mistakes and have thought hard and long about the subject.