A U TONOMY

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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.

After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals. This is a Lesson I have learned from a man I truly think is a great leader and a man I see myself working with for the many years to come.

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