From a 1990 essay comes the insight
"The ability to get ahead in an organization is simply another talent, like the ability to play chess, paint pictures, do coronary bypass operations or pick pockets. There are some people who are extraordinarily good at manipulating- organizations to serve their own ends. The Russians, who have suffered under such people for centuries, have a name for them-- apparatchiks. It was an observer of apparatchiks who coined the maxim, 'The scum rises to the top.' "
It is as insightful in its own way as "The Mythical Man-Month".
What is so interesting is that in many (large) organisations, this is pretty much codified in their HR structures, so that in annual appraisals rather than being scored at what you've actually done in your job, it's all about how you have developed a network of trusted colleagues, attended negotiating and presentation courses, volunteered to run the sports club, and absorbed the company Mission Statement.