You can imagine that the level of power owned by an informal group consists of the sum of the personal power of each individual member. As with other ideas, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. However, this power is often latent or impotent.
A group will only be able to benefit from its combined power assets if:
- The group has an identity recognised by the members.
- The key members have some form of organisational agenda or purpose.
- They are mobilised to act.
As with team development, informal groups naturally move through a number of stages in their development. As you seek to become more influential, identifying informal groups, assessing their development stage and their potential power can provide exceptional opportunities for developing greater influence within the organisation.
- Latent: A number of individuals share something significant in common.
- Recognition: Individuals become aware of their common interests or features.
- Formation: Key individuals take steps to get the new group communicating.
- Mobilisation: The group identifies a purpose/agenda they need to influence in the organisation.
Here are some more ideas to think about:
- The power of any group can rise and fall in relation to other groups.
- Membership changes and when key members join or leave it can have a significant impact on how the group operates.
- Since members will also be members of other groups, sometimes the agendas will conflict and their allegiances can change.
- Groups can be strengthened deliberately by attracting new, powerful members.