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Policy is the Gulag of Good Ideas

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Good Ideas Sour and Stink When Enshrined as Law

 

“We’ll do it this way going forward.”

 

If you could do a quick, very honest poll of employees listening to their boss say those words, how many would silently be saying, “No. We won’t do it that way.”

  • 50 percent?
  • 99 percent?
  • 100 percent?
HM Prison Geelong

HM Prison Geelong

It is possible the very nature of the hierarchical or “push” corporation lends itself to sapping motivation from good ideas. When ideas come from above as pre-packaged laws-of-this-workplace, a piece of humanity goes dormant in the otherwise engaged employee. Enough of those pre-packaged laws-of-this-workplace and work becomes full of half-functioning automatons.

A room full of automatons working only for the weekend or the money or to keep a job or to avoid the boss’s wrath may have succeeded 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago. But  smart corporations and organizations will study how to turn their hired automatons into full-fledged, interactive humans while at work, not just after work.

Inevitably, that involves hearing from employees. It must be about hearing from more than the boss or those favored few. And know this: engaged people talk and discuss. That is the way of owning a process. Automatons cannot own a process. But engaged people can own a process, no matter where they fit in the organization.

Once upon a time, the lovely Mrs. Kirkistan and I spent a few years at a volunteer organization that had a compelling mission. But that mission was hindered by a hierarchical leadership approach that treated volunteers as cogs in an unyielding machine. There was no room to engage, revise, add-to or direct from within the roles we played. Only a few key leadership voices could do that. We eventually walked, as did other talented people in a variety of roles.

Coming generations of working stiffs will expect their voices to be heard. Or they will walk.

We can all grow in listening for engaged voices with solid ideas.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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