Change from the Bottom Up LO5396

Rol Fessenden (
06 Feb 96 11:38:01 EST

Replying to LO5318 --

Re: Change from the Bottom Up LO5291, LO5299, LO5318

I have noticed in a number of notes some discussion of changing
organizations from the ground up, or from the grass roots. Most of this
discussion, but not all, is focused on changing the leadership process or
structure, in other words, levels ABOVE the grass roots. This is the
wrong focus.

My advice is CHANGE WHAT YOU KNOW. Don't try to change what someone else
does, try to change what YOU do. don't talk about change FROM the grass
roots, talk about change IN the grass roots.

Why? For a lot of reasons. First of all, most of us don't really
understand the work or the responsibilities of people in jobs we have
never had. Most of us do, on the other hand, understand our own jobs.
Therefore, we are ideally suited to change the way that job gets done.

As someone, I believe Julie, described, there really are different and
complementary roles being filled by people at different levels in the
organization. None of us are experts on what our boss does since we have
not walked in her shoes.

If we all banded together and agreed to work together to change the way
submarines are commanded, we would have no problem seeing the absurdity of
that goal. And yet we have no such difficulty proposing that we know how
to change the jobs of other people whose jobs we have never held and about
which we know very little.

Second, as has been disccussed before, leadership begins with personal
leadership. That does not mean change the boss. It means change one's

Third, if you want to develop changes to demonstrate the possibilities,
what better place to start than an area about which you are an expert.
The risks are least if you focus on areas you know a lot about.

Fourth, as any psychologist will tell you, if you define your own
satisfaction in terms of your ability to change someone else, then you are
doomed to failure. Most marriage counselors, for example, will tell you
that you cannot really change your spouse unless your spouse has already
expressed a need to change themselves.

Fifth, changing yourself is hard enough. Most of us can think of dozens
of ways to change other people, and yet isn't it interesting how little we
can think of to change about ourselves? Remember, the person next to you,
if they are anything like you, can think of many things you ought to do
differently, but very few things they could do differently themselves.
Isn't that fascinating? What could you learn about yourself if you could
walk in his or her shoes for a day? Changing yourself is tough work.

Sixth, think how good you might feel, and how gratifying it will be to
make a substantive change -- improvement -- in the way you work.

Finally, think of this not as a mission or a crusade, instead, think of it
as a way to have fun and enjoy life. Change is hard work, but it can be
extraordinarily gratifying.

Remember, change IN the grass roots, not FROM the grass roots. You can
always take on bigger challenges once you know more about what change
really involves and once you have demonstrated the powerful possibilities.

 Rol Fessenden
 LL Bean

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