LO and Higher Ed LO7599

Sat, 25 May 1996 07:23:52 -0400

Replying to LO7569 --

In a message dated 96-05-24 20:10:26 EDT, you write:

>Peter Senge, in the Systems Thinker from Feb. 1996, said that "the basic
>assumption that only top mgmt. can cause significant change is deeply
>disempowering. Why then, Senge asks, do we accept is to unquestioningly?

As I mentioned some months back on this list, the American Management
Associations did a study many years ago to explore this question:

"In organizations, how does the authority that managers at various levels
think they have compare with what they actually have?"

What they found was that most managers have a lot more authority than they
think they have, and that the normal tendency is to buck the blame
somewhere else for doing nothing, when the manager could do something.

Now I can see that people who are scared about their security would take
that posture, and probably that accounts for some of this. But there are
probably a lot of others who are really confused about what they can do.

I remember the old question:

"what is the difference between government and industry?"

The answer was:

"In government, you can only do what the law tells you specifically you
can do."

"In industry, you can do anything except what the law specifically tells
you that you can't do".

It's true that the lines are not drawn as sharply as one might like.

But I do believe that there are a lot of managers out there who are
sitting back waiting for somebody else to lead, even in areas where they
are capable, and I wonder just how many of them will look back years from
now and ask themselves: "why didn't I take action when I knew what I
should have done?"

John N. Warfield
(tenured, but still not behaving in the approved way)



Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>