The Bottom vs. the Top: Los Alamos Blog and Congress

Stories like this are wonderful microcosm of any organization. A Los Alamos employee starts a public weblog, people start writing and sending in complaints, all the type A, “leaders” in congress get all upset and start saying things like, “this all a bunch of griping!” As always, little Ricky must be thinking, mom an dad just aren’t listening.

From this, we can draw a useful, tactical pattern for bottom up action in any organization: if you complain, those at the top will label you as a whiner, and use that as an ad hominem attack against all your efforts.

That is, when you’re trying to do hard bottom up change (as opposed to change coming down from the top, e.g., congress-people, CEOs, Popes, etc.), unless you’re supra-lucky, the people at the top will resist with any means possible. If you complain about things — even justifiably from your perspective — the people at the top will characterize you as a broody spaz, and thus, no one who deserves listening to.

In most cases, people at the top are smart, energetic, full-on type-A people. Their view, learned from being that way and being rewarded with the success of being at the top, is that if you want something — change — you just go and fucking do it, no holds barred, Ashley. You don’t sit there and whine that you can’t get what you want. If you can’t get it in your organization, you go and get a new job, God damn it.

Obviously, not all top-people are like this, but there certainly is more of this operational-think at the top than the bottom.

So, what’s a bottom-feeder to do: the fact that they’re at the bottom, the very fact that there is a bottom, is often endemic of the powerlessness they actually have. That said, faith in that powerless mind-set of the bottom is often such in organizations that they’re not actively defending against it. If the bottom-feeders suddenly get active, if they’re fast and loud enough, the top will get effected.

Now, of course, I’d much rather operate in organizations where getting shit done doesn’t have to be cast in fighting-metaphors. But that’s the way it is sometimes…as the top-folk would probably be happy to remind me with a smile

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