On Autonomy, Management and The Next Wave

Management isn’t natural.

I don’t mean that it’s weird or toxic – just that it doesn’t emanate from nature. “Management” isn’t a tree or a river.  It’s a telegraph or a transistor radio.  Somebody invented it.  And over time, most inventions – from the candle to the cotton gin to the compact disc – lose their usefulness.

Management is great if you want people to comply – to do specific things a certain way.  But it stinks if you want people to engage – to think big or give the world something it didn’t know it was missing.  For creative, complex, conceptual challenges – i.e., what most of us now do for a living – 40 years of research in behavioral science and human motivation says that self-direction works better.  And that requires autonomy.  Lots of it.

If we want engagement, and the mediocrity – busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:

Task- What they do

Time – When they do it

Technique – How they do it

Team – Whom they do it with.

(From Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.)

What are your thoughts when you read this.  The points that I find interesting for further discussion are the ones that effect professional coaching.  First, it is my belief that there is a ‘natural’ tendency to ‘manage.’ Looking at the animal kingdom and generations of long ago, a hierarchy and way of doing things developed.  Until they no longer served their purpose, then massive changes occurred.

The next point that resonates with me about Daniel Pink’s work is what he points out to be ‘the next wave.’   The importance to recognize and be open to new creative thought and processes – this is exciting information!

And looking at the four aspects of work:  task, time, technique and team, it reminds me of the spheres of influence.  Considering these points can make for a better, more productive workplace and more engaged professional worker for no or little cost.

What do you think?