The freedom of invention and initiative

It’s been a while since someone on our team was told what to do, even being asked is rare. When you truly value people over process and give people “the freedom of invention and initiative” it is far more effective to let them take rather than give work.

The endemic suffering in the work place caused by people’s talent and work being wasted, comes from employees being owned by their company rather than being part of it. We associate work with lost time given to an employer in return for a wage packet that guarantees us a place in the consumerist hierarchy.

Given rules we stagnate over time. Dogma creates a wall that inhibits invention and initiative. Walls require revolution to break down. An extreme reaction only justified by something being very wrong. Are we reaching that point? Or is it easier to let yourself be governed? We cannot make change on our own, but when we collaborate we can make change effectively as a group. Working like this takes skill that we need to relearn.

Replacing hierarchy and control by collaboration seems far-fetched but agile teams are doing it now. Their effectiveness is catalogued elsewhere and it’s only limited by the wall that surrounds the teams. We work more effectively because we believe in and have pride in what we do, not because we have to. This benefit of this commitment makes ‘efficiency’ meaningless, an irrelevant word. We work effectively because our short lives are too precious and rich to waste.

This is not about the individual, on our own we get no feedback and are left to become stupid like an italian cruise ship captain who nobody dares question. Real progress only comes through collaboration to achieve a common purpose in an open and creative environment. Our economy centered on a culture of competitiveness oppresses the few who haven’t had the luck or privilege to be at the top of the pyramid. Through collaboration we can all contribute equally and we are all equally committed to implementing the results.

Collaboration leads to self organisation but even that isn’t enough. For minds to remain active we need to maintain our passion for “complexity, the vitality, the freedom of Invention and Initiative”. Continuous improvement doesn’t quite capture it perhaps continuous invention is what we need to aspire to.

The title and other quotes are taken from the following passage in The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

“The complexity, the vitality, the freedom of Invention and Initiative that were the centre of the Odonian ideal, we’ve thrown it all away. We’ve gone right back to barbarism – if it’s new run away from it, if you can’t eat it throw it away” p146-7 extended quote here along with discussion.

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