Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Systems, People, and Freedom

I saw a speaker in Las Vegas, Gary Hamel, who talked about new systems of management in which people are given more control. In which there is less and less top down authority and more and more individual autonomy. In which people are free to spontaneously adapt to the rapidly changing world around them, rather than following the strictures of the annual corporate plan. He cited examples of this evolution, and of the companies that are using some of these methods.

It sounds great. And it could be that these new methods are what's next in corporate management. But it begs a question. Are people really ready for that kind of responsibility and authority?

No doubt some are, and they have already prospered. But most of us still just want to be told what to do. I see people every day (including me) who hesitate to make the final decision. Who want someone else, at a higher pay grade, to define the rules. If they have a great new idea, they want someone else to approve it.

In short, it feels like we want the upside of this new freedom, but not the downside. The recent collapse of the credit market comes to mind. The bankers made billions as the markets boomed, but insisted on a bailout when things headed south.

Until we are willing to take responsibility for the consequences of our decisions, both good and bad, we are not ready for freedom. Nor do we really have it.


No comments:

Post a Comment