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Oct22
Build Up or Tear Down - Which Way to Lead Change?


Have you seen lasting change come more from tearing down a thing or from building up its counterpoint? Does one trump the other in a city dying for lack of transformation? Tom Melohn said … One way to encourage people to take risks is to reward them for it.”

Picasso, on the other hand advocated tearing down a thing,  before you can build up anything new. Completely tear it down, he insisted. Where do you stand? Do the most effective leaders you know, build up a thing, or do they tear down old structures, before they get revolutionary change? build up or tear down.jpg

The question might have
crossed Joe Klein’s mind, when he accepted the Rochester’s Business Person of the Year Award last week at the Convention Center. Joe accepted the award and then attacked NY State and Rochester city leaders for "destroying our business community and residents". 

A prominent and well respected CEO at
Klein Steel,  Joe, landed his company on Rochester’s top 100 businesses for 10 years in a row.

"I'm ashamed to live in Rochester and ashamed to live in New York state," he said Thursday in an interview. Joe’s cutting words are still buzzing all over today, as seen in NYCO’s blog and The DragonFlyEye blog and in many area newspapers and TV clips. 

The Special Business-Award-of-the-Year event, drew a record crowd of more than 1000 people to the Riverside Convention Center to hear E. Philip Saunders, founder of Sugar Creek Stores, Genesee Regional Bank, and several other New York business ventures. Guests also got an earful from Joe Klein at the dinner they paid top dollars to attend.

Here is my question: When it comes to the desperate changes needed if Rochester business is to survive, what’s best? Is it better to build up or tear down, in order to shake up new life?

Which one can move the Rochester, New York business community from it’s
basal ganglia of corruption and stagnation, into it’s working memory, where renewal stands a chance to generate new seeds for growth? What do you think?


8 Comments/Trackbacks




It is a sad state of affairs. Present "leadership" obstructs any possible reversal of the downward slide.

Rochester, as always, has huge postential. This cannot be realized absent genuine leadership.

To answer your question, both destruction and creation will have to take place. They work together. They both represent "change".

Thanks for stopping by Scott, and yes, that sure seems to be the case. Yet I like your notion of "both and..." since it allows for more the creation side - to at least be part of the rebuilding process, and it seems to add hope. How true -- Rochester has so much - what a pity!

Do you sense that Joe Klein made enough feathers fly to get attention at the top and from the rest of us who care about this city?

Do you sense that Joe Klein made enough feathers fly to get attention at the top and from the rest of us who care about this city?

Change is incredibly difficult. This is why leadership is so vital.

Right now, we have no viable qualified leadership and we have a system that prevents capable people from leadership positions (for fear of change).

The PTB will dig in their heels and the exodus will quicken.

Things will (IMO) get much worse before there is a remote chance of considering change.

Scott, your thoughtful insights make me realize that people like Joe Klein, whom I know and respect, could have used his own courage to speak up in ways that help us all.

I felt that a city-wide session on amazing new research about how the human brain really works - could bring another angle to our leaders to show them how we currently work against the human brain, and against incentives for growth in the city of Rochester. It's clear, however, that there are amazing answers if we draw from talented, generous leaders in this city and then act daily on what they suggest.

New voices simply need to be facilitated, and maybe that's what Joe brought to us like a clarion call! Not sure if folks are ready for change, which is why I spoke of the brain's "basal ganglia" as it works in this city.

The current leadership has not drawn from the talent pool to rebuild, and I sense that brain based tactics could make it happen. Currently I am working on a huge project in Ireland where we are using brain based strategies to turn a university around for a new era - and there is electric in the air with leaders' excitement! What a difference! It makes me realize all we lose monthly here in New York, and it also makes me wish for more electric and prosperity here, because there are so many good people and potential in this city.

We likely both know many of the leaders who could transform many parts of our city while we still have a few businesses like Joe's left..... Thanks for the ideas, Scott. More to think about.

Ellen,
The whole system does not need to be torn down. The City of Rochester needs to tear down only the barriers to progress and rebuild with new people who can bring positive change. There are good hard working people in the new City management who would love to see the obstacles ( non performers) removed under firm Leadership of our Mayor and County Executive.

Ram, you are so dead on about that insight - and yes - the two leaders you named are of the best in this nation! How can we support Mayor Duffy, and County Exec. Maggie Brooks, to make changes Joe Klein and other leaders would like to see, in your opinion? How could businesses like your very successful Larsen Engineers firm benefit more?

Those who know how to run a business and who know what they are doing should start and run a business by themselves. With a partnership you usually find yourself with several people who have different views on how a business should be run. They might have the same interest but different views on how a business should be managed and that is quite enough to dissolve the partnership, or in some cases to destroy a business completely. I started this business with my brother and we had different views on how things should be done, so we split up. I would recommend that, if you think you know what you are doing. what you want to achieve and you know how to run a business, you should start a business by yourself.

You build a good case here for avoiding troubles that can come with certain partnerships in any business venture.

I'm a bit of an old sock for collaboration - and joint ventures myself, but I can certainly see your well made point.

Great idea to start one way and stay open, as you did, to making adjustments along the way too. That way you can find what approach suits the business and the personalities. Good luck with your business!

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