"I favor general use of the psychic-prison metaphor to free people from the traps of favored ways of thinking and to unleash their power and creativity."
--Gareth Morgan
"We cannot just remodel the prison. No, we've got to get out of it."
--W. Edwards Deming

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breaker of horses

The following is excerpted from David Whyte's Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

The inherited language of the corporate workplace is far too small for us now. It has too little poetry, too little humanity, and too little good business sense for the world that lies before us. We only have to look at the most important word in the lexicon of the present workplace--manager--to understand its inherent weakness. Manager is derived from the old Italian and French words maneggio and manege, meaning the training, handling and riding of a horse. It is strange to think that the whole spirit of management is derived from the image of getting on the back of a beast, digging your knees in, and heading it in a certain direction. The word manager conjures images of domination, command, and ultimate control, and the taming of a potentially wild energy. It also implies a basic unwillingness on the part of the people to be managed, a force to be corralled and reined in. All appropriate things if you wish to ride a horse, but most people don't respond very passionately or very creatively to being ridden, and the words giddy up there only go so far in creating the kind of responsive participation we now look for.

Sometime over the next fifty years or so, the word manager will disappear from our understanding of leadership, and thankfully so. Another word will emerge, more alive with possibility, more helpful, hopefully not decided upon by a committee, which will describe the new role of leadership now emerging. An image of leadership which embraces the attentive, open-minded, conversationally based, people-minded person who has not given up on her intellect and can still act and act quickly when needed. Much of the wisdom needed to create these new roles, lies not in our empirical, strategic disciplines but in our artistic traditions. It is the artist in each of us we must now encourage into the world...[1]

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