After more than twenty years of hard work trying to transform and design new organizations as contexts for human behavior, one cannot help but to reflect on the most important challenge in our professional intervention experience. Echoing key philosophers our preliminary response is : getting people to understand, intellectually and emotionally their rich experiential meaning of their free will, specifically the profound meaning of various usable and interrelated concepts.
The ultimate unit or building block of society is the individual. Subjectivity is the starting point. We often tell our friends we are subjects and thus embrace the world subjectively. Yes, we must work in teams, for teamwork is the essence of business and organizational success. Yes, managers, professionals and employees are expected to be loyal to their organizations, and vice versa. But teams are made of individuals, and individuals make or break teams. The individual commitment to successful teamwork is what makes individuals choose to study team dynamics. Human beings make the decision to apply this knowledge. Only the individual can make this one serious decision of committing personally to the team`s success.
Individuals are fully responsible for what happens in their domain of influence. This interpretation is deliciously old. It comes from a very strict ethical system, extending from Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece to the post-World War II period of European existentialists. Such a sense of total responsibility is a subjective truth. Understanding responsibility is the road to maturity and to healthy adulthood. To be an adult is to find responsibility desirable, attractive and something the individual wants. To be an adult is to treasure self-reliance, and of course this has eventual consequence on the quality of behavior and performance.
Superb organizations are designed for people whose personal growth conforms to this fundamental principle of constructive freedom. This is a philosophic insight, and to be captured with this deep normative premise is the reality connection, the results focus, the passion for effectiveness. Thus, the meaning of initiative (even empowerment as freedom, direction and support) is founded in the human being innermost predicament: Taking responsibility fully and alone for taking soundable initiative in understanding problems, coping with them and managing people (some of whom will help, some of whom will trouble others with their indifference and some of whom will interfere). The purpose of taking initiative is to achieve results.
The imperative of human freedom covers the full spectrum of the human condition. This is to overcome the statement of someone we know saying: "On Fridays after 5:00 p.m., I take a couple of drinks and forget about everything until next Monday morning". The point is that only when we grasp freedom and responsibility in their wholeness are we the effective human beings that we can be. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. Philosophers alert us that we must live consistently with these truth of human conditions, lest we become unnatural or a weak spirit.
Copyright 1998 QBS, Inc.