Chris Selland

I get up, and nothing gets me down

The Politics of Influence

Just catching up this morning with yesterday’s little kerfuffle in the Enterprise Software world:

In case you missed it, apparently this was all triggered by Michael Krigsman republishing Dennis Moore’s list of ‘Trusted Enterprise Software experts’ on ZDNet, CloudAve, Enterprise Irregulars and possibly elsewhere.

Which inspired this response - The awkward Art of Selfpromotion - from Martijn Linssen. Worth noting is that Martijn was not included in the aforementioned lists.

Also worth noting - neither was I. Full disclosure - I too am an Enterprise Irregular (as are Michael and Dennis). I am a considerably less active one these days, since I do not make it my business to be an ‘influencer’. So being omitted from a list like this perhaps is a slight blow to my ego (although not surprising since my Twitter feed and blog posts are not exactly focused), but has zero impact on my bank account.

Everyone and anyone is, of course, entitled to promote and/or publish their opinions and lists of who their ‘top’, ‘most trusted’ or otherwise important (to them) resources are. Whether it’s a blogroll, a Twitter list, or something more formalized, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this.

But what outsiders to ‘the Influence game’ need to also realize is the structure of how these networks work. Quality content matters, of course, but one also becomes an Influencer by both self-promoting as well as by building alliances and cross-promoting others with similar outlooks and views. In other words, it’s politics - and it’s also why, due to personal distaste for those politics, I have personally fought off repeated efforts to get back into ‘the game’.

This whole discussion reminded me of a review I read recently in the WSJ of the book Politics as a Spectator Sport.

In 2008, Rudy Giuliani’s team had wooed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for months, eager for his endorsement in the contest for the GOP presidential nomination, and thought that a deal had been reached. Just before the Florida primary, Mr. Crist handed his endorsement to John McCain, which helped crater Mr. Giuliani’s chances in Florida. Mr. Giuliani didn’t forget. A few years later, when Mr. Crist was struggling in his bid for a Florida Senate seat, guess which former presidential candidate—still popular among ex-New Yorkers voting in Florida primaries—was only too happy to endorse newcomer Marco Rubio?

As a former Giuliani staffer (and undying loyalist), I find it delightful to read the words “Senator Rubio,” and I was amused to see that Mr. Cillizza has remembered the incident too. One of the guilty pleasures of his writing is the way he adroitly captures the deep personal hatreds that politics provoke—and that most reporters pretend don’t exist.

The stakes are somewhat lower in the Enterprise Software world but the ever-shifting alliances, informal backscratching arrangements and personal animosities are very much there.

For those involved in this little dustup (all of whom I am friendly with and wish to remain so), I hope you can resolve things amicably.

For everyone else, enjoy the show…