Every now and then you come across a gem to share broadly with others: What Matters Now, a compilation of great ideas by brilliant thinkers and change agents. Agent provocateur Seth Godin has produced this compilation and offers it as a free downloadable ebook from his blog. He encourages like-minded folk who are sick and tired of the status quo to do likewise.
Each of these big thinkers has offered up pearls of wisdom from their life’s experience or their professional adventures — and some of their notions will resonate for days after in your mind. It’s easy to consume: one big idea per page.
For example, consider this gem from Daniel Pink under the heading “Autonomy.”
Pink writes that “management isn’t natural” if you want people to engage their hearts, minds and creative passions at work. Management is great for ensuring compliance, but not for eliciting break-through ideas or world-changing products. I love Pink’s quote in What Matters Now:
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
After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom — fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.
Daniel Pink’s musings on the sources of motivation help me to understand why I find life as an independent consultant vastly more rewarding than climbing the corporate ladder inside a traditional enterprise.
Pink’s insights also explain why my husbands and friends (all trapped within management-dominated enterprises) complain so often, and so bitterly, about their jobs. No doubt their frustration is caused by lack of control over 1 or more of the 4 items cited by Pink. I can offer advice on how to improve their situations, but if they’re tightly controlled by managers or constrained by their understanding of “the system” — the way things work here — they can see no light at the end of their personal tunnels as long as they continue to work for those enterprises. And that’s a crying shame, because these are brilliant, talented, caring and experienced people at the height of their careers.
Unlike them I chose to exit the corporate job environment 15 years ago. As an independent consultant, I can control or influence all 4 of those aspects of my work, so what I do professionally is meaningful and intrinsically motivating; offers opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking and resourceful problem solving; and allows me to make lasting contributions to my clients in ways they find distinctive and memorable. Thanks to Daniel Pink, now I understand why.
And thanks to Seth Godin for sharing these contributions from such brilliant thinkers. What a gift to all would-be change agents for 2010!