Sunday, July 18, 2010

Freedom and Responsibility

Now I wanted to start talking explicitly about freedom and responsibility. The twins.

For most normal people, freedom and responsibility come together. That is, we are only free when we accept responsibility. This may seem a paradox, like saying, "we are only free when we become a slave." But it is not.

So, if we are free we must take the responsibility to decide and act. In the team, for example.

And we must take the responsibility to explain this to managers. "Leave us alone until the end of the Sprint" is a phrase we must be adult enough to repeat often. (And forgiving enough to be willing to repeat again and again.)

Now, managers, contrary to what you were typically taught, God gave them freedom and you have no right to abrogate it.

In a relationship, no decent person wishes to be loved by a slave. One wishes the love, each day, to be truly given. Not required.

In a roughly similar way, in work the magic of the team operates at a higher level when they are free to give what they want, what magically comes to their heads. In the team soup.

Now, this is not foolishness. If the Team goes for a good while and comes up with nothing much, a manger might need to add something to the soup. But she is looking to add a simple constraint or an idea that will juice the team to freer creativity. Not to put an iron box around them to make them work hard.

So, let me repeat a few key ideas:
1. Workers are, by and large, worthy of freedom and responsibility.
2. Managers should be ashamed to assume, tacitly or explicitly, that workers have, even for one moment, given up any freedom.
3. Both managers and workers are human and make mistakes.
4. Neither managers nor workers, in general, are evil. (Yes, there are many managers who are poorly taught in the arts of managing. Yes, there are a few evil managers; but all managers do not deserve to be blamed because of the faults of a few.)

Very good people often misunderstand these ideas, when they try to put them into action. We saw this in what is now called the Place de la Concorde, with the guillotine. It is for us to forgive them, forgive ourselves, and remind.

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