Antibodies and Positrons: Project Management & Leadership by Consensus

An antibody can tag a microbe or an infected cell for attack by other parts of the immune system or can neutralize its target directly (for example, by blocking a part of a microbe that is essential for its invasion and survival). – Wikipedia Antibody

The positron has an electric charge of +1e, a spin of ½, and has the same mass as an electron. When a low-energy positron collides with a low-energy electron, annihilation occurs. – Wikipedia Positron


In a big company like Dell, you have all kinds of people. People who have learned how to carve out their place and remain steadfastly loyal, even during massive industry changes and layoffs. They are still there.

And you have people, a bit more like myself: fiercely creative, passionate, and perhaps not cut out for the long haul within the huge corporate structure of a company like Dell.

Along the way, you will be asked to lead a project. To take the responsibility for delivery on your shoulders and ask for the support and efforts of others, perhaps less loyal to your objective or business unit. At Dell, we referred to these nay-sayers as ANTIBODIES. As a project lead, you found ways around them. And if you were efficient and fortunate at the same time, these antibodies would either stop coming to your meetings or at least stop impeding your progress. Because within any organization it is often the momentum that carries a project forward. As the success and progress of the initiative grows people are more likely to give their support and perhaps efforts to see the work through to competition.

Also in the mix are the supporters, the POSITRONS who encourage you, follow with energy, and help build the momentum of your project. And you do everything you can to support these people. Even asking, “What else can I help YOU with?” Because finding positrons in your career is a lifelong effort. And once you have connected with a positron you will want them on your team from then out. If you move to a new company, these are the people you will want to recruit to your new effort.

Antibodies, not so much. They are the ones you don’t add on LinkedIn. It’s best to move on without setting fire to any bridges, but there is no need to sugarcoat a bad egg.

So on the path to successful project completion, you will face hurdles (can you show me the numbers again?), ambiguities (what exactly is the purpose of this project?), and antibodies (I’m not sure this is the best way to go about this). The quicker you accelerate past the antibodies and align yourself with the positrons the easier time you are going to have to deliver on your promises and deadlines.

In life, there are positrons and antibodies as well.

Stay on the shining path, focus on your goals, and let the antibodies fall where they may.

John McElhenney LinkedIn

See also:


Please check out a few of my books on AMAZON

Especially this one, about living a creative life of intention and joy. 

this creative life - john oakley mcelhenney

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