Change from the Bottom Up LO5318

Malcolm Burson (mooney@MAINE.MAINE.EDU)
Sat, 3 Feb 1996 09:15:14 -0500

Responding to Pete Heineman, LO5281, and others:

As I'm reading with increasing interest the comments of Pete and
others to this thread, I'm struck by the nostaligic (for me, at
least) tone of our postings. Pete wrote,

>Whether we like it or not, leadership is solely up to the individual.

and he and others have discussed our increasing sense that real
organizational change may actually be possible from what we used to call
"the grass roots."

The nostalgia for me comes from remembering the blissful idealism of a
former generation, my own, which also believed deeply in notions of
empowerment, action from the bottom, ignoring the ineptitude of the
hierarchy, etc. Now, thirty or so years later, do we see any real
evidence that in the social order, "grass roots change" efforts have had a
significant impact?

The accompanying paradox as we transfer these notions to the business and
organizational context is that, as I see it, the extent to which we
validate the notion of _individual_ change as a necessary precursor to
organizational movement may precisely undermine the LO model that there is
an unnameable "something" about a company or organization which transcends
the learning or development of the individuals in it.

So, can we escape, if only for a little while, these dilemmas by proposing
that it isn't _individual_ change and leadership from the bottom up which
will be effectual; it's the nurturing of groups of like-minded folk,
wherever they may be on the "chart," which offers the most positive
opportunity? Some of my own recent efforts would support that notion.

I, too, have been deeply touched (and sometimes skewered) by Peter Block's
vision, and my internet mentor, our own Rol Fessenden, keeps encouraging
me to work in discrete, "lower level" settings. It's not exactly "keeping
out of sight until you can sneak up on them," but it's close!

Malcolm Burson<
Community Health & Counseling
Bangor, Maine