Reflections on how to create disruptive change without resistance (part 1)?

Dear Christine,

Thanks for the new challenge you are offering me. You are teasing me with your question: How can your presence help maintain the status quo, or help creating opening?

This is a tough one, and one on which I missed at different occasions. Not that my presence maintained the status quo. On the contrary, my presence disrupted, or threatened the status quo and hence many times I fell prey to internal politics, and was rejected.

Machiavelli said it remarkably:

 It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. (The Prince)

He was speaking to the Prince. I am speaking to CEO’s. I’ve been one myself, before I embarked on the long road “to be the change I want to see in the World”.

CEO’s in traditional companies are the most misinformed people in their own organization. The executive and bureaucratic layer that separates them from the “people who bring the value” – research, development of new products, production, customer service, logistics, sales… are cutting them off from the reality of operations, the client relationship and the client’s needs.

This layer acts as Machiavelli’s enemy to the CEO innovator.  This layer has done well under the old conditions (otherwise they would not have been promoted). And the CEO innovator cannot really count on knowing what happens in his business and with his clients, since the people who work in first line fear the bureaucratic and executive layer, and they do not readily believe in their own capacities to flourish either, since all their life they have been educated to have a fixed Mindset. 

Now I have to be honest, only part of the layer I am spreaking about is “inamicable to change”, since many people in this layer see and feel the problems, and want the change to happen, are willing to change hemselves and the way they behave. But often they are at best lukewarm, caught with fear, non believers,  and often in a fixed mindset.

So your question Christine really gets at the core of my dilemma. How can I help creating openings without falling prey to the phenomena described above? This question is precious for me, because it is directed at the very core of my dilemma. 

I believe I am mistaken to count on the courage of the CEO. I should find oblique ways to bring the value I am convinced to be able to bring to all:

Allowing the enterprises to “insanely” raise productivity, profits (on condition they are distributed fairly), delight customers, uplift people who flourish, and by the same token to create true societal value through innovation and socially responsible behaviours of all the people concerned, proud to bear this responsibilityand to succeed in doing good.

Dear Christine, not only have you put me on the road to looking at the question differently, from another angle, obliquily. This already is of tremendous value to me. Did not Einstein say:

“The mere formulation of a problem is far more often essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.”

You’ve also put me on the road to finding some clumsy solutions. But I leave it here for today. I need to sleep and let the question mature before I can give birth to what burns in me.

In the meantime, I am most happy if you would further provoke and push me .

Thanks you so much, Christine. I sincerely hope you will want to help me further.

This being said, dear readers, don’t feel excluded, all this is public, so feel free to enter the fray.

Cheers to all,


PS; On obliquity and Clumsy solutions, more to come…..


About charlesvanderhaegen

I am a grandfather of an immensely inspiring family, thanks to the most incredible wife. To satisfy my family's needs, I was for 30 years business entrepreneur, roller coasting between success and failure. 17 years ago I was forced to stop and reflect. I dug into theory and discovered the World out there, that my involvement in Business had kept hidden to me. I feared that I will not escape remaining amidst my trans-disciplinary quest forever, bouncing back and forth from action to theory, always puzzled by Europe's apparent incapacity to free itself from its Institutional/Technological Lock-ins. My horizon opened up when Gunter Pauly, my intimate friend of 35 years, asked me to join him and take charge ZERI's development in Europe. I am now fully engaged alongside Gunter Pauli in the and the @myblueeconomy Networks as CEO of ZERI.EU vzw (Non for Profit association)
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