The real problem with the gray zone is that many technical people have a bias toward the very high end of the integrity spectrum. They may put gray zone behaviors in their category of bad politics. For example, not telling the whole truth all the time is technically lying, yet some people admit a spectrum here, while others view it as black or white.It is difficult to have a high-trust environment if there is a lot of gray zone behavior. So don't be surprised if, when you talk about politics with engineers and technical managers, they lump "neutral (gray) zone" and "bad" politics under the general, derogatory heading of "politics" and characterize the "good" politics category as "leadership" or "good management." This turns things into a black and white world where all politics is evil. As this was my starting point, I now want to make it clear that we can sort things out, and what remains is really a linguistic mapping issue. Table 13.1 may prove helpful:
One could say that the entire thrust of this chapter is reconciling the "mainstream usage" to the "engineering mapping." These are two different ways of looking at the world, but without understanding the linguistic overloading we can get into a lot of troubleespecially when those engineers think we are defending politics.