The Illusion of Successful change requires the top person

Harrison Owen owenhh at
Wed Feb 21 14:57:51 PST 2001

At 12:34 PM 2/21/01 -0800, you wrote:
>As long as people believe that change requires active involvement from the
>top, this is true.
>It is self-fulfilling because those not at the top have either consciously
>or unconsciously given away their power to have an impact.  And those at the
>top either consciously or unconsciously accept that power as theirs to wield
>as they see fit.
>In practice, all it takes is one person living a different belief -- that
>anyone can bring about change -- to begin the shift.  Clearly change is not
>static.  Wherever it starts, it must move to others for a shift to take
>place.  Ultimately, that means the top gets involved.  But contrary to
>conventional wisdom which I think shuts off enormous potential, change can
>come from anywhere.

Right On! Peggy. All Power to the People! And stuff like that.
Unfortunately, it happens to be true, at least in my experience. I have
never seen truly useful, evolutionary, adaptive stuff come from the top.
The Top-of-the-heap can stand in the way -- but it rarely creates. And I
think for good reason. Most folks reach the pinnacle for preserving the
status quo. Life begins in the depths and on the margins. Places like
swamps. Smell bad. Look weird. Not socially acceptable. But that's where
life begins in biology. And I think the same is true in the
corporate/organizational world. All heresy, I am sure.


Harrison Owen
7808 River Falls Drive
Potomac, MD 20854 USA
phone 301-469-9269
fax 301-983-9314
Open Space Training
Open Space Institute
Personal website

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