“Just do it” just doesn’t do it

It’s a common lament among managers that if creative workers want to be self-managed and act entrepreneurial they should “just do it” and if they don’t, well that’s proof it doesn’t work or they don’t really want it – and we don’t need to consider implementing any change.

This train of thought falls short because it ignores the decades of authoritarian upbringing we’ve all been subjected to since before we started school: We’re used to doing as we’re told by our parents, our teachers, our professors and our bosses literally our entire life. Most of us are so well-raised we can’t bring ourselves to behave differently – even if we want to. It is important to realise that while your employees may be seasoned veterans and experts in their field, when it comes to entrepreneurial self-management many – if not most of them – are absolute rookies.

Management must be the facilitator in achieving the necessary shift in mindsets and that is not something you can do in a day. Much like parents and teachers before them, managers must introduce people to the topic step by step and can’t expect any of it to be self-evident. Unlike parents or teachers, they have to join in the learning themselves: Asking workers questions like “What’s stopping you?” is the equivalent of a professor asking a class of freshmen “Why aren’t you learning already, what’s missing for you understand this subject?” In both cases you would’ve failed at your job: To foster the minds entrusted to you and help them become all they can be – for the benefit of customers, peers, managers and shareholders alike.

“Just do it” is easy but it will not get you anywhere – however, the extra effort required is worth it: The values locked behind archaic practices and the competitive edge of a truly entrepreneurial workforce are huge. Obtaining them requires the collective effort of all stakeholders – and a  collaborative paradigm shift in work and management; a return of and to the curious, open and playful mind. So let’s stop doing what random self-improvement courses, consulting workshops and theoretical frameworks tell us to do and instead relearn to put our innermost self to work – the part of us we were told to hide so many years ago.

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