Quinn and Bottom-up Change

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Bottom-up Approach > Best Practices > Quinn and Bottom-up Change

Quinn and Bottom-up Change
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
Quinn in his 1996 book "Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within" identifies that change occurs when you find the source of trouble. He also suggests that cultural change needs to start with personal change, even for the CEO. Quinn suggests organizations need to undo forces that want to preserve the status quo, especially if they involve the maintenance of hierarchies. He also suggests promoting technically competent and innovative people may not help change, if they do not understand the culture or politics of the organization.
Is it possible for the power of the leader to poison the workplace environment? I think it may. Sometimes resistance or barriers are created by a leader, who is not trusted or respected. Quinn appears to support bottom up change, as well as the need for transformational leaders. Pressure by leaders to conform, will result in resistance and often leads to failure of any change initiatives.

Bottoms Up!
cheryl yamazaki, Business Consultant, Australia, Member
Wonderful - it's about time, someone is singing my tune! When individuals understand that the real power lies with them and begin to take responsibility for all that is in their world, engages with people to make positive change - watch the world rock and roll! Now's the time to invert the pyramid. Go well everyone.

sheeja, Professor, India, Member
Change often starts from the top to the middle to the bottom. The top level puts forth the requirement of change. Middle level tries to implement it and forces or motivates the lower level.

The Nature of Hierchical Effects
Marcus Webber, Strategy Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
The issue is that of the fundamental instability that attends the nature of hierarchical power.
See Sumantra Ghoshal, John Seddon and my writings on societal transformation - Zen & the Art of Civilisation in Interconnections publication - published by Anglia Ruskin University - CPD in social change.

Bottom-up in Practice
dagmar kokavcova, Professor, Slovakia, Member
As a good example of this approach I consider the Brazilian company Semco where Ricardo Semler implemented a succesful democratization model of modern decision making.

Involving the Bottom Level in the Implementation
Sankaran Nambissan Poozhikunnath, Manager, Sultanate of Oman, Member
Change will be decided by the top level. They are successful if they can implement from the bottom level. An important thing is the bottom level has to feel as if it is developed by them. This can be achieved to a great extend by involving the bottom level in the implementation.

Managing and Leading Change
Johnny Michael Tan, Management Consultant, Malaysia, Member
Change starts from the top... Must involve top / middle management... Then cascade to the rank and file. Must have imperatives:
1. A frame for the change e.g. McKinsey 7S
2. A sense of urgency
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
4. Leaders must demonstrate they are committed to executing the change
5. Alignment is everything - goals, strategies, measurements
6. Talk the talk, walk the talk, talk the walk and walk the walk!

Bottom-up or Top-Down Approach
Madan Gopal Agarwal, Business Consultant, India, Member
In certain situations, 'bottom-up approach' is more appropriate, in certain other situations, 'top-down' is more appropriate, both have their unique applications.
Bottom-up is very appropriate where small, incremental and continuous improvements are needed; where a local problem is to be solved and small teams are to be built.
Wherever large scale and breakthrough results are needed, a role model is important, leadership by example is needed, top-down is more relevant..
However, consensus-building and ownership of all the stakeholders is mandatory to ensure faster implementation and better results!

Achieving Consensus
Ron White, Teacher, United Kingdom, Member
I agree with Madan Gopal Agarwal that, basically, different situations call for different approaches to managing change. There is no doubt that in any hierarchy, exemplification and support from the top is essential, since any bottom up innovation will falter if there is no support from from above. Achieving consensus is also essential, regardless of the source. That is a process which may take much time and many people. But having achieved it may be the most significant aspect of implementing the change.

Combine Bottom-up and Top-down Approach
Barbara Wilson, Coach, France, Member
I like this approach and remember it from my MBA study, and on the whole would support it. When I have been involved with introducing and implementing change I have done it from a bottom up, top down perspective. Bottom up because that was where I was when I initiated the need for change and got involved in its design. Top down because this is needed for support and resourcing. One without the other either way will not work well. It does take time as Ron identifies, however in my experience this is worth taking the time for and will be more successful than top down imposed change.
I also believe that ideas for change need to come from anywhere in the organisation. It is unrealistic to think that only the top managers will have all the answers because often they do not see what is really happening.
Be aware that there are cultural dimensions to beliefs around this area also...

Quinn and Bottom-up Change
Ian Straus, Analyst, United States, Member
@David, re. "is it possible for the power of a leader to poison the workplace environment?" - of course it is. I have lived through that.
When you have a senior executive who exemplifies and defends the worst of the corporate culture it is a very damaging situation.

Merger of Top Down and Bottom- Up Approaches
Rixon Campbell, United States, Member
One of the characteristics of a transformational leader is to share the vision, and then lead by example. Without top management or the top leader buys into any plans, the support that is needed for effective execution will be hindered, therefore, a top down approach has to be merged with bottom- up approach.
This will boost morale in the organization. When it is seen that top management is actually listening to the ideas or suggestions of those at the bottom, that eventually brings work place unity. The phrase "monkey see, money do" is still alive in organizations.

All Levels are Needed
Cindy Palomo, Manager, United States, Member
I don't think it's a question of one or the other (top-down or bottom-up). Each level within the organization has an important role to play in any change initiaitive. We need the TOP to provide support and ensure accountability and sustainment (not another flavor of the month). We need MIDDLE management to provide guidance around the processes. And we need the LOWER levels to provide feedback on how the change will impact the day-to-day running of the business. Every level is needed to provide on-going communication.

Participation of All Levels
Motsi, Accountant, Zimbabwe, Member
In my view, organisations must espouse the spirit of interdependence in order to secure synergistic advantages in any change initiative. This means within defined parameters, top management must put in place a change structure that ensures the participation of all levels within the organisation to ensure a sense of ownership, recognition and oneness as regards the change process.

A Warning Word About Employees Participation
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
Employees participation is good, but shall be focused on the HOW (how to implement),
Asking WHAT (business goals) to employees is a way to avoid responsibility that is primary of the general manager, CEO, managing director or president of the organization.

Bottom - Up and Top Down Approaches Both Obsolete
Charles Peter, CEO, Kenya, Member
My conviction is that both these approaches are becoming obsolete in the age we are in. Open door communication laterally across the organization where information is shared freely and if possible across all lines is the best way to go. Employees are the engines of the organization and therefore key stakeholders. Involvement in decision making and establishing feedback mechanisms is bound to work better with open door lateral communication than either bottom- up or top - down approaches.

Change or Be Changed
James Saw, Analyst, Malaysia, Member
Like it or not, every organization is like a living organism, it transforms and must transform according to its life cycle - conceived, growth, maturity and declined then it starts all over again and again.. In different forms for those who survived.
When the time has come (need to change), at first, the one in power from the top must initiate the change and propagate to the bottom. If this does not happen, then this will be eventually triggered from the bottom. Change or be changed, live will find its own way.

Ripples Approach
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
Bottom up or top down approaches have their due roles and applicability; however what I see is if an organization applies open communication and has really educated it's internal customers well in aligning with vision and the mission statement, then the 'ripples' approach brings in the best results.
What is the 'ripples' approach? Very simply: an idea, a need, an issue or an answer can 'emerge' from anyone at any level, and if a culture of 'acceptance' permeates the organization, then its impact is no different from from how the ripples (Ed: ~circular waves) cascade if one throws a stone in a pond.
However it is important to recognize the individual who set the ripples in motion.

Choose One Approach
SANKHA SUBHRA RAKSHIT, Manager, India, Member
Both approaches are having advantages as well as disadvantages. But I believe that if in a particular organization cannot judge which approach they will be following then it will end up in confusion, obscurity and miscommunication in the process.

Gaps in Bottom up
Serkalem G.Kirstos, CEO, Ethiopia, Member
I do agree with a bottom-up approach but not in its entirety since people at the lower echelon of the company generally lack the understanding of the complex nature of managerial decision making and also lack the abilty of viewing the company in its entirety
Finally I would like to hammer on the point that the best approach depends on the nature and status of the company like where its products stand in the BCG matrix and the stage where the products are in the PLC-product life cycle.

Bottom-up Approach and Fear
Nasir Cader, Student (Other), Member
Information and suggestions should flow from the counter to the ivory tower. However, those working at the counter are sometimes reluctant to express any views for fear that they may not be retained.

Bottom-up Approach Should be Systematically Applied
Odufowokan Adesina, Teacher, Nigeria, Member
It`s an instrument for solving organizational problems to an extent but to a greater extent will be more effective and relevant if systematically applied using corporate strategies, structure, procedures that can effectively address changing strategies.

Combine Bottom Up and Top Down
David Whitfield, Professor, United States, Member
I totally agree with Barbara Wilson regarding both top and bottom because when it comes to discussing, accepting, and implementing change, we need both levels. Culture is an essential variable in any change endeavor; matter of fact, it is the variable that will either hinder or help the change effort. Because as the saying goes, “Culture will eat strategy’s lunch”, especially if the change is inconsistent with the organization’s culture.

Special Interest Group Leader
Brett E Holdeman
Student (University)

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