Change from the Bottom up LO5298

Ray Evans Harrell (
Fri, 2 Feb 1996 09:44:50 -0500

Replying to LO5284 --

Brian Batke said:,
>For me, this underscores even further the need for change to begin with a
>personal transformation, wherever you are in the hierarchy. (snip)

>I don't think any sort of flow of ideals from the top can alter the
>feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, cynicism that you so very well
>described for each of these groups. I have a feeling that these things go
>deeper than the organizational or cultural situations we find ourselves
>in. (snip)

>When the top won't "allow" change, isn't it viewed as subversion?
>Sometimes the top has no choice. (snip) In organizations, when people at the
>bottom start saying to themselves, "hey, I can't work in this environment
>anymore", and they act accordingly, then something changes. (snip)
>In practice though,
>I think it's difficult for many people to reach that point. You gotta eat,
>and if you have a family and don't have skills in high demand, it's tough
>to find other opportunities that are any better than what you have now.

Brian, I said:

>> Ideals have to come from the top down in order for change
>>to happen from the ground up. In addition, the company is only as
>>successful as the least employee and shareholder is successful.

I agree with you about the cynicism, however I feel that the last
statement you made:

"You gotta eat, and if you have a family and don't
have skills in high demand, it's tough to find
other opportunities that are any better than what
you have now."

is the most cynical of all, precludes progress and signals decline. The
"Star" system that Roxanne Abbas refers to in her post:

"Since executive payroll costs are such a small part of
total payroll costs, it is not a major concern. It is
much more important that we pay our executives generously
so that we can get and keep the best talent that money
can buy."

as the CEO justification for raiding the treasury of a company, did not
work in the Fine Arts and it will only "signal the decline" of American
Corporate Business IMHO. Companies create this expectation with attitude.
I happen to believe that it borders on what Freud called Thanatos, the
death wish. That "sex and death" are in balance in this system seems more
and more obvious to me. But it's not "sex" that creates, but simple

Someone wrote that I seem to be cynical about American Culture and you
referred to "Cultural Situations." My background in Culture, is in the
Arts, Psychology and Anthropology. I'm afraid that given the context, I
have no idea what you mean by "Cultural Situations." I don't find a
culture here. When I look for all of the markers of culture, Art,
community, common values, political structural agreement, etc. everything
has come from someplace else. What made sense in a systematic way in
another time/space, simply is one of the voices in the competitive pot.
We cry for English language but have little of the culture of the English.
Watching the American Actor William Hurt in "Gorky Park" with all of the
Russian music I became aware of how comfortable I was with the context.
(Russian) The music was beautiful, the woman was exotic and slightly
other, (immigrant) and the police situations where the quintessential
American "excellence triumphs over corrupt bureaucracy" everything we love
in our stories. Was it an "American story set in Moscow? Or are all of
our stories Russian set in America? Bear with me. What is the music that
is essential to the fourth of July? our holiday. The Russian "1812
Festival Overture" celebrating the triumph of the Russian Czar's Army over
Napoleon. (Charles Ives wrote a Masterpiece of American Music called July
4th, but it seems odd and out of place in today's American scene.) When
the great Russian cellist and 2nd rate conductor Sviataslav Rostropovich
was granted asylum the Board of Kennedy Center fired the Hungarian (German
Culture) Antol Dorati who was a much better conductor and was from the
school that gave America it's greatest modern conductors (Solti, Szell,
Ormandy, Rheiner). They then hired Rostropovich. It was a political act
but also, the audience "liked" the music better. American cultural
feelings had moved to Moscow. The musical style of almost all of the
Broadway musicals, (except for Cameron Macintosh's productions) follow
Stephen Sondheim in claiming French origins. The Russians of the Czars
court thought they were French as well and even spoke French at court.
Napoleon taught them they weren't French and they've never forgiven him.
Broadway has more in common with the Russian Five than with Debussey.
What used to be English, became German and now with the movies, is
Russian. Why not? The most creative immigrants in Hollywood are second
generation Eastern Europeans. Just ask any Russian immigrant driving a
cab in NYC. They'll be happy to tell you.

All this is to say that we are in need of an identity IMHO. Why should a
CEO have loyalty to a company or a company have loyalty to a culture that
doesn't exist? I'll never forget a world class immigrant Russian
physicist saying that he was now happy because any country in the world
would be happy to have him. There are two ways to look at that CEOs
statement. Because of our relationship I chose the least offensive. No
wonder Congress wants to split up the Union, it has never been more split
culturally than in the present. The answer is not, a "Melting Pot" the
Yugoslavian solution. Bosnia proved that doesn't work. I believe the
answer is the same for us as for John Dunne "Each man's joy is joy to me
each Man's grief is my own, no man is an island" or "but best of all the
people, that's America to me. (The House I Live In)" Maybe it should
read, "but best of all the highest paid, self centered, dis- loyal CEOs
and Corporate Boards, that's America to me."

The way the Japanese executive said it was "I am responsible to my people
for my actions." Did Deming teach them that or did they already know it?
As an employee you have to know who your CEO's people are and make sure
that you are included in that.

The balance to "Ideals have to come from the top down in order for change
to happen from the ground up." Is "the company is only as successful as
the least employee and shareholder is successful." Otherwise you're just
Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner doing a duet and destroying the
finest team in Baseball.


Ray Evans Harrell
Artistic Director
The Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble, Inc. 
200 West 70th Street, Suite 6-c
New York City, New York 10023-4324
"Remember, if business is going to take over every element
of society including religion, politics, education, health, 
science, the law and the arts, then it is going to have to 
come up with better answers to the great questions of Western 
thought than the millions of volumes these disciplines have 
written since the beginning of Western Time.  Business will have 
to learn to rise above 'the bottom line' of human endeavor."
                                        John Redpath