To play Devil's Advocate for a moment, I've found that authority is often overrated. Those without authority can still change things.
Tom Peters took a simple "survey our users" project at work, and turned it into a program for thinking about excellence and the book [i]In Search of Excellence[i]. He didn't technically have the authority to do so; he did it anyway.
Now, of course, one can definitely take on too much, and it's not wise to buck the system in everything. But the system's made up of people, after all, so it's not exactly a static thing.