To me, grassroots initiatives are #ownership taken. Like the grassroots in the picture above (Source: https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graswurzelbewegung) they have the power to help to transform the culture of a company.
With grassroots initiative employees no longer wait for leadership o.k., if they feel something needs to be changed/amended/improved, they simply take action, they take ownership: they design and implement culture change.
This is pretty different from the past when change management campaigns tried to foster change, but seldom thrived since they pursued a standardized approach which mostly failed to meet what employees really needed in their specific daily business.
But does it really work? Culture change bottom-up?
And: doesn´t this lead to a shadow organization besides the classic hierarchy. Isn´t that dangerous anarchy?
Experiences I have made throughout the last two, three years in our company but also outside watching what happened at other big german multinationals prove these fears to be wrong:
- All grassroots initiatives follow the lead set by the company concerning vision, mission and strategy, e.g. along the road posts set by our Principles.
- All contribute to make the company even more fit for competition and more flexible and adaptable to change.
- All aim to help each employee along her/his personal way of digital transformation
by helping them understand the personal need to change, and show ways to go. (Mindset) Grassroots are also the place to safely experiment, e.g. on new methods and ways of working like self-organization. (Skillset). Often, novel tools are in use on this behalf. (Toolset), (see also Simon Dueckert´s LearnOs: German, English).
- Members of grassroots initiatives implement experiences made there in classic projects within the traditional hierarchy,
That is how grassroot intiatives nurture sustainable change in our traditional organisational set-ups. And since they mostly tackle all three elements of a Learning Organisation they also support here.