Reflecting On Independence
Independence for a country is about choice. A country wants to be able to make choices tobetter itself, to control its own destiny. A country wants to feel like it has freedom to do what it thinks is right. Hopefully, a country thinks it’s a good to provide for its citizens in a long term sense. We can disagree what is best, but a good country makes an explicit choice about what it think is right and takes responsibility for its choices. For a country, the choices should be grounded in the long term.
Independence for a company is about choice. Like a country, a company wants control over its own destiny. A company wants to feel like it has freedom to do what’s right. A company wants to decide what’s right and wants the ability to act accordingly. There are lots of management theories on what’s right, but the company wants to be able to choose. Like it or not, the company will be accountable for its choices, as measured by stock price or profit.
And with children, independence is about choice. Children, too, want control over their own destiny, but they score low on the responsibility scale. And that’s why children earn responsibility over time – get a little, don’t get hurt, and get a little more. They don’t know what’s good for them, but don’t let that get in the way of wanting control over their own destiny. That’s why parents exist.
Independence is about the ability to choose. But there’s a catch. With independence comes responsibility – responsibility for the choice. With children, there’s insufficient responsibility because they just don’t care. And with employees in a company, there’s insufficient responsibility for another reason – fear of failure. I’m not sure about countries.
Independence is a two way street – choice and responsibility. And independence is bound by constraints. (There are unalienable rights, but unconstrained independence isn’t one of them.) For more independence, push hard on constraints; for more independence, take responsibility; for more independence, make more choices (and own the consequences).
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Dr. Mike Shipulski brings together the best of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Axiomatic Design, TRIZ, and lean to develop innovative products and technologies. His blog can be found at Shipulski On Design.
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I’m not sure I see the link with innovation. Will you comment here?
Innovation requires independence of thought (choice), and with this independence comes the responsibility (consequences) of choice. It’s easy to make choices in the mind because there are no consequences, but difficult to make choices in our actions (innovation) because of our fear around consequences.
Innovation requires that we choose (demonstrate independence) and we take responsibility for our choices (work through our fear).