Pay and Play LO5884
Wed, 28 Feb 1996 08:56:03 -0500

Replying to LO4935 --

@ Upper mangement isn't needed to make change happen
@ Change starts anywhere
@ How can we support change agents (and not)?
@ Lots of change-agents don't know how to "systems-think" and fail

In a message dated 96-01-18 01:03:21 EST, you write:

>So, where are we? I can summarize my opinion. It is that people like MLK
>exemplify the power of personal responsibility and empowerment. In a
>corporate context, management can provide enabling experiences and
>mentoring and training. The rest comes from the employee. The power
>occurs precisely because the employee takes personal responsibility and
>empowerment. The person may not succeed in the project, but as long as
>they learn, you can't ask for more. In general, I think I am far more
>willing to share responsibility than you are. The best way to find out
>someone's opinion of what is happening in a project is to ask them, and
>trust them. Finally, expect what you have agreed to expect.

I agree with Rol here. The view that "upper management must be involved
or else this will fail" is to argue disbelief that profound transformation
comes from at least one person creating change around himself/herself.
That's it. It starts there, it never starts anywhere else, and it never
"ends" in terms of its effects.

The tough part is to have people acting with a particular intention in
mind, consistently. Most change agents give up when they fail to see the
outcomes of their actions (like I did once in a group I co-formed called
"The Gang of X".) This act of giving up comes at least partly from an
inability to systems-think i.e. to correctly distinguish cause and effect
events seemingly unrelated in time and space. When they don't SEE
results, they quit.Too quickly. Without seeing the difference their
committed acting and speaking has made.

In other words, someone who acts on behalf of a vision, and is able to
enroll one person per day in acting that way will eventually take over the
company... not in terms of their position, but in terms of what they say
is possible in the future. You might say they introduce a meme-like
conversation that, if it empowers people, becomes widely accepted.

For example, If you looked at any organization, you probably could not
find the FIRST person who heard about reengineering. Or TQM. Or Deming.
Where did it get introduced? Where will the next line of thinking be
introduced? Given that we probably don't know, and won't, then we could
say we also don't know what the next well articulated set of ideas will

So a "search" for ideas is probably less fruitful than, as Rol suggests,
creating an environment that empowers people who designate themselves as
change-agents, or those who see a particular future, hope for it, and act
on its behalf.

Rol also says:

>Martin Luther King took personal responsibility. He was also empowered.
>>People mostly describe empowerment as something that is gven by a manager
>to a subordinate. This is not empowerment, it is the same old
>paternalism. If I give it, then I can take it. If it can be taken away,
>then it is not empowerment. MLK was empowered, and no one could take it
>away from him. Why? Because he took empowerment when he accepted
>personal responsibility for fixing the injustices of an entire nation.
>This is the key lesson of King. Accepting personal responsibility is
>synonymous with taking empowerment.
>>>>The person who does that is a formidable person indeed.

Yes, yes, yes. This is good news! It says that ANYONE can act to
transform their corporation. And no-one can STOP them but themselves.

Who can help them? Well, in general I'd say there is very little support
for people of change. In other words, there are very few people acting
and speaking on behalf of their spoken future/vision. This is almost by
definition... the future they want to bring into existence would already
be there if everyone aligned on it!

What we can do help them is to be the first change. Act and speak on
behalf of a vision we have, and then we'll see and appreciate and be in a
position to support those other people who are doing the same thing. For
those who don't "act and speak"... the change agents will remain
invisible, perhaps forever. The change will occur, the future they were
committed to will be fulfilled, and some folks will still complain that
this is yet another crazy effort by upper management to (fill in the


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39 Sturbridge Drive 908-699-9084 (fax)
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--coaching change agents --supporting company visionaries


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