The Carl Sagan of Power
The Carl Sagan of Power
Bill Smith, Director of ODII, Organizing for Development, is the Carl Sagan of organizational theory. He gives brilliant talks on a universal framework for understanding the shift from "control, to influence, to appreciation" in the way we govern organizations, and the profound differences involved. At a critical time when IT is driving power to the masses, Smith's work defines the frontier of leadership and change.
Bill has long held the view that power is the invisible water we swim in and that our traditional approaches to policy-making, organization and management do not have good models of power and consequently don't use all the power available to them. He is able to show how the two-thirds failure rate for most complex projects, in all fields, relates to the inappropriate understanding and use of power. We over-emphasize the use of control and use the power of influence poorly in order to gain control--without due appreciation of the effects of our actions on our whole communities.
Bill has proved this by developing his philosophy of power and a natural-systems approach to organizing that he calls AIC (appreciation, influence and control). The approach has been very successful, tackling some of the most daunting issues we face, such as poverty, health and energy.
In the process, he made the discovery that gives dramatic clarity and practicality to his work: If we want to understand organization we must understand power, and if we want to understand power we must understand that our power comes from our purpose. This insight proved invaluable to his work, for example, in poverty-stricken regions around the world. The poor believe themselves to be powerless, yet when they understand that their power comes from purpose they are able to do what before seemed impossible.
Bill's approach has caused transformational change in many countries, as is shown in the recently released videos from Cambodia, Uganda and Zambia at www.coresilience.org. For more insight, see the papers below:
1. A re-organization of the Electricity Sector in Colombia after a national crisis: http://www.aic-3.com/papers/Colombia_for_printing_in_color.pdf.
2. The institutionalization of AIC as a national participatory-planning process in Thailand: http://www.aic-3.com/papers/Building_Partnerships_AIC_in_Thailand.pdf.
As fascinating as this work is, what caught my attention is that he has translated this simple, elegant and powerful model into a series of Maps. The Maps show us--as individual leaders, as organizations and as entire cultures--what our purpose is, i.e., our ideals, values and goals; how our purpose creates the emphasis we give to our three powers of appreciation, influence and control; and how this pattern reveals our approach to leadership.
He is now embarking on an ambitious project to make this knowledge available to anyone anywhere in the world. As the knowledge requires practice on three things we care about, he plans to develop the experiential training necessary for people to carry out and train others in the AIC process.
All Public Comments
© 2013-2017 TechCast Global Inc Printed By: Dec 12, 2018 For personal use only