Invisible Hats

Organizations are more than the sum of their parts. Too often, people underestimate the complexity of decision and how work actually gets done – there are more moving parts to a process than are documented. If you want to gain traction to move things along quicker, you need to start thinking about how everybody works together. In particular, you need to know how gets things done in your organization and by whom.

In this blog post, we'll discuss four different types of individuals who support getting things done in an organization. These are different than corporate titles, these are the invisible hats that people wear. We'll also provide some tips on how you can work with these individuals to help your organization achieve its goals. 

1. The Approver is the person who can approve your ideas and grant you funding, resources, or priority. They may approve assignments to projects, control funding or budgets, or set the work direction and priorities. Clearly define the scope of your work and seek out information about what the requirements or limits are for what you are asking to be granted.

2. The Gatekeeper is the person who has the credentials or requirements needed to allow your idea to pass through the chain of command or provide access to resources or tools you need to get things done. The gatekeeper’s job is to restrict access  - so make sure you understand the guidelines to get to the next stage.

3. The Subject Matter Expert is a person who has a depth of knowledge in a particular area. This could be someone on your team or even in another department. They are people you want to connect with because they can offer skills and knowledge completely different from your own and can help move your work forward by providing their expertise or insights. Ask who is knowledgeable about the important information you use to get work done. Many organizations have Slack or other communication channels where the SMEs share information and best practices.

4. The Naysayer is the person who is always finding the holes in an idea. These people can be both beneficial and detrimental. You will want to avoid detrimental naysayers, as they tend to put out any idea that didn’t come from them. At the same time, you’ll want to be-friend beneficial naysayers. These people can pre-assess your ideas, providing valuable insight into any deficiencies or issues with your proposed plans. One effective approach is to ask the Naysayer to review your project and “poke holes it in” or “point out what I may have missed.”

You may have heard the saying "bridge-building" before, but it really applies when you're trying to make connections at work. Asking questions and seeking understanding of others' expertise will help lead your way towards success in new areas.

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