Leading Blog






10.16.06

Grassroots Change

Grassroots Change

Robert Redford has focused considerable energy at bringing about change on issues that are important to him. Common sense or emotional intelligence will tell you that the best way to change things is not to charge in. You can be results-driven without being a bull-in-a-china-shop. Change can begin at any level.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Turning an Industry Inside Out: A Conversation with Robert Redford, he notes two approaches to change in an organization or industry: top-down and bottom-up. The former is the more difficult and the latter takes longer and requires considerable skill and patience. Some lessons he has learned over the last 20 years:

  • "Corporate powers that be aren't going to be interested in the fruits of your labor and passion unless you are adept at understanding their agenda and speaking their language."
  • Direct confrontation can backfire. You can’t be forceful, loud, confrontational, or declarative. You have to sell what you have on their terms.
  • A better way to change a system is to work through it as a bottom-up insider, quietly chipping away at standard operating procedures, creating small opportunities to do what you really want to do, until you achieve a real success. Then you can break out your agenda in a larger way. You have to work behind the scenes
  • Building credibility is essential. Once you have earned credibility and are in a position to get what you want, you need to strike a series of devil’s bargains. To horse-trade with the devil, you have to look him squarely in the eye and make the right demands for him. Then you need to be prepared to "horse-trade with the devil" by trading "a sure thing for the right to experiment."
  • Incremental change has higher potential for success.
  • Timing is critical. Development in the industry or in the business can open or close doors for opportunity for change.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:47 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Change



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