Actualizing real change

By William Seidman Our article “A Scientific Model for Grassroots O.D.”  shows how the biggest challenge for any leader is getting large numbers of people to quickly and completely adopt a desired change. There are usually two approaches to change in an organization: top-down and bottom-up. Historically, organizational development has relied on executives at the top to drive cultural change. In most cases, though, this approach has produced disappointing results. Executives may be able to initiate the effort, but sustained change requires the sum of changes made by each individual in an organization. A much more effective and meaningful approach starts by changing individual behaviors and values, one person at a time. The challenge is to change sufficient numbers of people fast enough and completely enough to transform the character of the entire organization. How can this be done? When each person practices the new attitudes and behaviors until they become a natural part of everyday life, a “critical mass” of change causes the organization as a whole to transform. Even though the change is centrally driven, the participants are given a sense of ownership. When enough people perceive the change this way and are functioning in the new mode, comprehensive grassroots change has been established and the entire organization is rapidly and systematically transformed.  ]]>

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