Are you so sure that everything you’ve decided should be left out of your workplace is left out for a good reason?

Or is it left out simply because “that’s what we do around here”?

The danger of this second position is that you inherit what you’re able to do, and how you’re able to be, from those who came before you. And their understanding of what was required might be based on quite different assumptions from what’s called for now.

Much of contemporary practice in the world of organisations still draws upon the principles of the early industrialists who were trying to turn people into efficient and predictable machines for the running of orderly and productive factories. They were interested in suppressing emotion, keeping people tightly in line, constraining creativity, preventing anything new from arising and keeping everything ordered like clockwork. It produced a particularly contained, constrained way of being in work, founded most strongly on the principle of always being in control.

In many quarters we still think that this is unquestionably what it means to be ‘businesslike’ or professional. We can hardly see the roots of this position, so taken-for-granted have they become. And we so invent constraints – subtle and overt, within ourselves and on behalf of others – to keep it all in place.

And it’s amazing that this is the case, when it’s clear how often what’s called for now is creativity, genuineness, imagination, responsiveness, care, aliveness, collaboration and a commitment to do what matters rather than rigidly follow the rules.

Photo Credit: Magdalena Roeseler via Compfight cc

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