55 Values, Rationality and Power – Personal Considerations

Brad C. Anderson

Learning Objectives

In this chapter, you will learn:

  • How to use values and rationality to solve problems
  • How to build supportive alliances
  • How to handle resistance to your activities
  • How to manage when resistance turns into a fight
  • How to find champions to help drive action


You will recall the three elements of wisdom identified in Chapter I.

  • Values: Values guide wise action
  • Rationality: Knowledge is required but insufficient for wise action
  • Power: Wisdom is action-oriented

Previous chapters have looked at the interplay of either values and power or rationality and power. Let us now combine all three to gain insights into approaching problems and then taking action to fix them.

Organizational action is a group activity. To act, therefore, we must contend with the values, rationalities, and power of others.

Progress requires that we find groups willing to support our efforts. To act, we will need to develop new bureaucratic rationalities, as the previous chapter discussed. Doing this requires support from people with authority to make those changes. We may need resources such as personnel, equipment, and money to translate our ideas into reality. We need to convince people who control those resources to help us.

Similarly, our actions may threaten other groups’ activities, which may create resistance to our goals. Others may use their power to prevent new bureaucratic rationalities that we desire or limit our access to the resources we need.

In the face of this complexity, how can we use the insights into values, rationality, and power that previous chapters provided to foster organizational wisdom?

  • This chapter explores that question by discussing how people can use values and rationality to solve complex problems.
  • Since creating action in an organization is a group activity, this chapter then discusses ways to develop allies to support you in your endeavours.
  • It then considers how to manage resistance and conflict from groups that might oppose your actions, followed by a discussion of how to create champions who drive your cause forward.


NOTE This chapter ties together concepts from all previous chapters and then relates them to Appendix 1 (A case study). 


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