Change from the Bottom Up LO5314

John Sleigh (
02 Feb 96 22:37:44 EST

Replying to LO5281 --


I subscribed to this list on the recommendation of Marion Brady and I've
been lurking for about a month. I am a 40+ boomer who still remembers
slide rules. My employer calls me a Quality Engineer. My background is
strong in the physical sciences with an undergraduate degree in Political
Science and de facto minors in both English and History. Recent MBA while
working full time. Past lives have included shipyard worker and rocket
scientist (really). Does this make me a polymath? In my 5 years (not
quite to seven yet) with my present employer we have passed through a
winking flirtation with TQM, successfully gone through an ISO 9001
certification process, hired the guy who wrote the book (I'm ashamed to
admit that the name escapes me) to start us down the path to
Reeingineering and moved on to Covey. The results have been huge layoffs
and improving but disappointing performance in a highly competitive,
shrinking market. In all fairness there have been other factors at play
as well, but....

Having said all that..........

Responding to Change from the Bottom Up, LO5281

On 02/01/96 Pete Heineman posted:

>Power is a function of both position in the hierarchy and a state of mind.
>There is not question in my mind that if the top executives suport an
>initiative that the efforts are easier--in this respect my views really
>haven't changed. I have observed, however, that the perception of
>position and power is highly overrated. People at the top are frequently
>as powerless as people at the bottom or middle. "Change from the top down
>happens at the will and whim of those below" (Block, 1987). Many of the
>critical choices are made by the individuals at the lower levels. The
>power of the "boss" is asymmetrical. It is easier to pursuade individuals
>to become more cautious and "settle" than it is to make individuals and
>organizations more "pioneering" and courageous.

This galvanized me into responding with an idea I've had for a while which
crystalized while reading some other postings. It is high time that we
began to recognize that executives and managers at all levels are members
of the same organization as their, excuse the word for now and bear with
me, "subordinates". They may own different processes and have different
responsibilities but for the organization to be successful they must share
the same ultimate goal(s) as the rest of their associates. The reward
system for managers can often incentivize behaviors that are counter to
the long term success of the organization. In today's corporation those
compensated for risk taking are frequently risk averse due to the
potential for threats to their material security. *(This is a soap box
issue for me and leads into a big speech on layoffs and so called risk
based compensation, I'll spare you all for now.)*

Incipient in Pete's posting is the recognition (I believe) that the
traditional organization chart doesn't, and quite probably never really
has, represent the real FUNCTIONAL relationships in an organization.
(Chiefs and Gunnery Sgts run the Navy and Marines ; ) It works fine for
the distribution of OFFICIAL rewards and punishment, and, all too
infrequently accountability, but breaks down when we start to look at the
transfer of information, the REAL centers of power, authority, expertise,
etc. etc. The organization's relationships in terms of goal pursuit are
more lateral or matriced than hierarchical, and always have been. Links
form and are sustained which support the goal pursuits of the "linkees".
They are modified or discarded as the goal pursuit behavior of the linkees
changes with the redefinition of the organization's goals or as the
member's perception of their role in achieving established goals changes.

Turn the org chart on its side.

I hope these aren't too fundamental or obvious observations for the group.
Consider this post as sticking my toe in the water.

Thank you all.

Chet Jackson

Orlando FL

In any true democracy a people will always get the government they deserve. -- Heinlein (if memory serves)