Monday, October 26, 2009

Want to control a man's thinking? Just DO NOTHING

From an article The Guardian newspaper about Passion In the Workplace.

QUOTE .... "In public services, however, we rely upon a values-driven workforce as our base, so feel less need to stress notions of good business. But just because an organisation has a strong sense of social purpose does not mean that this filters through the entire workforce in a way that responds to each individual's values. People search for meaning in their jobs every day, and the space to express their own enterprise, innovation and creativity. The danger within some public services organisations is that there can be little room for individuals to express an interpretation of what actually matters to them." ..... UNQUOTE

I don't believe many people join public service organisations because of their own strong sense of social purpose and meaning - they just need to get a job with a level of security. Worse than that, I don't believe people are cognisant of their need to find "meaning, enterprise, innovation and creativity" - because it is the media (in it's all embracing sense) that have become the invisible teacher of social/cultural values. When that teaching is still heavily biased towards "personal wealth" than "societal wealth", do people understand their confusing, anxiety, resistance, frustration and treadmill lifestyle is down to their inability to express meaning, enterprise, innovation and creativity?

From Carter G. Woodson ....

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

If we play this the other way round to organisations and said "wouldn't it be great not to have to worry about people's actions in the workplace? i.e. they will do your bidding. The answer will be a unanimous YES. But then you say, well ... you can achieve this in 2 ways:

1. DO NOTHING - i.e. it's hard work to help people to find room for them to express meaning, enterprise, innovation and creativity. But if they don't know that is what's missing - what you don't know, you won't miss. It's easier to just retain and reinforce organisational processes to quality check the outcomes from their actions. Of course, the downside is that TRUST spirals ever more downwards.

2. Understand how to deal with people's ideals, passion, emotions. The leader have to learn to think again. Oh, and by the way, they might leave your organisation once they discover that they are unable to express meaning, enterprise, innovation and creativity.

A vast majority of human beings will seek the path of least resistance. DO NOTHING is the path of least resistance.

For me, do nothing IS THE SAME AS controlling a person's thinking - i.e. by actively NOT engaging people's thinking around meaning, enterprise, innovation and creativity.

In the long term, perhaps the shaping of public service delivery is through myriads of social enterprises .. i.e. local councils will increasingly outsource their services to social enterprises where they can really count on a values-driven workforce ..... and all public services departments will have to worry about is checking the quality?