March 19th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

People Routers

Many acquisitions result in being sucked into a large, relatively inefficient organization. I experienced this when Loudcloud’s MSP business was acquired by EDS. This was a revealing experience on how to quickly become effective in large organizations. After the initial culture shock, I began to recognize a phenomenon where highly-effective disposable people found value by facilitating introductions and forwarding emails to ‘the right‘ person. We began to call these people – People Routers. People routers are become your best friend when entering an organization. But, beware, people routers act like they know a lot more than they actually do.

Big organizations survive on people routers. These are the great corporate networkers, yet low producers. He or she has extensive organizational knowledge and is typically extraverted. Organizational knowledge is created over time and honed by continually being plugged into corporate gossip circles. These people operate out of headquarters or some where a mass of influential people live. They are the bridge from those who are clueless to those who are knowledgeable – or less clueless. People routers become your go-to person, until you’ve consumed all of their connections, or relevant connections.

You know when the emails that you initiate are forwarded back to you after making 5 or 6 rounds that you need new people routers. Or, worse, you are becoming a people router. If you ever think you’re becoming a people router, start making decisions. Make decisions even if you do not have formal authority. Claim authority and wait for someone to over-rule you. This may create problems, but you may be surprised how much can be accomplished from taking ownership. Granted, there are a lot of problems you shouldn’t go near, but if it helps move forward your initiative go for it.

The most important aspect of people routers is to consume and map their knowledge. Create an organizational mindmap and work to identify motivations, influencers, and contacts. This is a similar process that strategic outside sales people should go through when working to penetrate an organization. I have found that success in an acquisition or new hire situation requires the same approach.
  • Larry

    Great concept Dan! People Routers should be studied in further detail as a form of social networking.

    I have also observed another phenomenon – Organizational Viruses – good and bad. In the case of certain acquisitions the good viruses can get rejected or sufficiently altered by the larger host in order to protect its status quo of inefficiency.

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