Celebrate freedom!

It’s fourth of July weekend in America, and everyone is out celebrating with parades, fireworks, and thoughts of freedom. The first 10 amendments to the Bill of Rights have to do with freedoms (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html), a right Americans take so strongly that the Supreme Court strikes down any challenge to them, no matter how deserving. But this blog isn’t about politics – it’s about freedom at Work. It’s time for work to shift.

Author Daniel Pink (www.danpink.com) said that management is a 19th century invention. We’re in the 21st century now. Time to jettison that old concept.

One of the terms that grates on me today is Talent Management. You don’t want to manage talent – that’s a sure-fire way of killing off any sparks or ingenuity. You want to nourish, develop, grow, strengthen, and give freedom to talent. In fact, if there’s any type of management that’s becoming more prevalent today, it is self-management. Already many companies from IBM to HSBC have a strong telecommuting presence. Workers don’t have offices they have to go to, and when they do, they may have a shared cube there. So if we can trust telecommuters to accomplish what they need to, why can’t we trust the workers that actually DO commute? Why can’t we let them manage themselves in the way that allows them to do what they do best? Why can’t we encourage thinking, creativity and endless suggestions that benefit both the organization and its’ customers, whether the customers are citizens, businesses, or consumers?

As the economy improves, we are going to see a huge TALENT SHIFT. People who have been hovered over, given more tasks with less time and freedom to get them done, will be taking their skills down the street, and maybe hanging out their own shingle. The US is the second best country in the world for entrepreneurs, trailing only New Zealand (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/2007/06/01/100049637/index.htm).

Time to tear down the walls of management. Time to tear down the micromanagement, workers as parts of a giant organizational machine, without time for thinking and continuous improvement because simply their is just no time anymore. Let workers truly develop and use their skills in ways that can add value, the true bottom line in every organization.

Our job in learning and corporate education is to continue to find ways to unleash those skills, celebrate the capabilities and strengths of our people, and move away from an employee-manager concept. Their are all types of philosophies out their to support this from FISH! (www.charthouse.com) to the Carrot Culture (www.carrot.com). but they need to be given the freedom to operate and let people contribute in unprecedented ways. It is time. Indeed, let freedom ring!


About hprager

Father, husband, brother and son. Delighted to be friends and mentor to so many wonderful people. Passionate about: leadership, learning and development, education, nature and the environment, youth, music, jazz, the tuba, Israeli dancing, networking and helping others, humor, laughter, swimming, hiking, the Cubs, Northwestern athletics, theater, musicals, concerts, traveling and making new friends wherever I go. Helping the world be a better place when I leave it.
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3 Responses to Celebrate freedom!

  1. Paul Safyan says:

    I wouldn’t want to promote self-management at the expense of teamwork and synergy. Yes, more people are communicating with one another remotely, and, yes, we need to trust those people who work in locations physically separated from others to do their jobs. But we must also invest in ways to make communication among these physically separated workers effective. Emails have become a convenient method of avoiding telephone and face-to-face communication where a more in depth understanding of meaning can occur. People need to know when they should pick up the phone or use the webcam to help facilitate group projects and to enhance creative thinking. I don’t think we as trainers or as organizations have recognized this deficiency in communication as a problem to solve.

  2. Howard says:

    Paul; I don’t think I’m advocating no teamwork. In fact, I’m promoting global virtual teams through articles and seminars! But let’s face it, the days of someone standing over your shoulder are long gone. If we don’t shift in the direction that workers are and can be trusted contributors, we are never going to achieve the gains in productivity and innovation that we so desperately seek.

    Yes, there’s probably more need for facilitators, coaches, mentors, and teams than ever. But in concert with self-management.

    Good dialogue.


  3. Paul Safyan says:

    Howard: Your positive view of virtual teams did not come through clearly to me in your initial post. I think your reference to the Bill of Rights, which I usually think of as the primary Constitutional protection of INDIVIDUAL rights got me thinking in the direction of self-sufficient individuals, working alone. Management and faciliation of global work teams is an area that I think needs a great deal more attention in our field. My virtual work teams are primarily operated via teleconferences or management-led PowerPoints. Their flavor and the level of trust are not good. There seems to be much tension among members and between members and managers that goes unresolved between monthly meetings. It may never be addressed at all except through authoritarian-sounding emails from management. Therefore, I think your call for improving these kinds of experiences is an important one.

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