Control or Innovation

Most of us have experienced being controlled or feeling controlled at some point in our lives. If we are honest we have probably also as part of our journey experienced being controlling. We cannot avoid this experience or exclude ourselves from participation in it. People control people either consciously or unconsciously and we allow them to do so either consciously or unconsciously depending on our level of confidence and awareness. I think it is probably fair to say that advertising works on this principle in the main.

However, the question I want to ask is, just because it happens, does it make it right and what’s the alternative?

In a business environment control has been considered a necessary requisite to the successful completion of tasks and indeed there are elements of any job that need clear guidelines and rules abided by for operational success to be achieved. However, and I’m not totally clear how this came about, we have come to a place where it is assumed that no one will do their work unless they are told what to do….controlled. The problem with this is that control removes a person’s autonomy and ability to think for their selves’. In my view, to be blunt, it numbs the brain.

But again, just because it happens, does it make it right and what’s the alternative?

So let us examine what happens, and who is affected:-

The worker.  The boss tells the worker what to do. The worker does his job. Obviously that works. Problem is the worker only does his job. The directive to work prevents the worker from thinking for herself/himself. The directive has assumed the worker is a numbskull. The directive imposes power over the worker. Since the boss pays the worker, the worker has no option but to accept this behaviour. This process prevents the worker from coming forward with any ideas for improvement, it kills innovation.

The boss. Since the worker is only doing what he is told, the boss has to carry the can if anything goes wrong. There is little flexibility built into this structure. Changes cannot easily be dealt with, unless the boss gets involved. The boss is effectively tying himself to the worker. The boss becomes indispensible, perhaps by design, but for whatever reason this process stifles innovation, and limits growth.

The business. Since the boss is constantly tied up with matters relating to the worker, he has no time to oversee the business. This means that there is no room for him to see what is happening in the marketplace, and he has no time to innovate, or even make any changes necessary for the business to thrive.

I would suggest that this process is characteristic of all organisations, where there is a hierarchy. The good news as far as I can see is that the younger businesses are aware of this old school mind-set and are therefore not afflicted in this way and are more innovative and adaptable to change as compared to the  older, larger businesses.

In conclusion therefore,  I strongly advocate that in your business affairs, be  aware of the tendency in yourself and colleagues to assume power over others. It is an inevitable flaw of human nature and can only be minimised through personal awareness. Watch out for signs of this in others  and deal with it promptly, or your business will suffer and avoid it in yourself by forging alliances with individuals big enough in character and confidence to challenge your own behaviour should it be seen to be inappropriate to the culture you are endeavouring to create.


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