management, sensemaking

RevelACTION: Freedom in management

After twenty years studying, discussing, analyzing, and changing organizations I had a revelation. No, not a revelation, it was more a revelACTION how I call them when I coach top managers. A revelACTION is an ex-post sense making of some facets of a situation or a part of one’s life that opens up a completely different perspective, and infuses with a novel meaning all we have been struggling to accomplish. Yes, you could call it simply revelation, but to me it originates new actions, and a deeper comprehension of one’s travel on Earth. Then, it is a kind of action. And it is a kind of action of a particularly valuable kind, because it allows you as an individual to realize that you are not a sequence of actions commanded by the everyday routine, neither are you but a cognitive set of stimulus-reaction behaviors. You are a human being, with cognition, values, and beliefs that come to be suspended if not suppressed by the overly institutionalized character of everyday life on this planet. And then your magic revelACTION kicks in and everything gets into its place. You realize that either unconsciously or through an incomplete plan you were after something, relevant and unique to your journey.

My revelACTION is freedom. I never realized it, but I have been obsessed by a constant search for a way to liberate people I met in organizations. I have felt the pain of all the burden they brought along with them. It could be a class of learners who struggled to accept the irrationality of their organization, which was imposed on them through silly procedures. I saw it in the eyes of successful managers who were kept in chain by all the expectations that had arisen around them. Their eyes told the story of so many moments of life lost in the pursuit of a role tailored around them, but too narrow to be their life. and then what about the pain of some of my students, brilliant and ambitious who came back to talk with me of their experiences in their new workplaces. So much sorrow, all coming out of the lack of freedom in and around organizations.

But all these emotions surfaced when I asked myself what I would like to write in the first book that is just a search for a new message to change organizations, and I had my revelACTION. I am taking freedom as the foundation of a different way of interpreting organizations. I went through all the prophets of freedom, like Von Hayek, and many philosophers of the past, and I am trying to describe how we can make our institutions (and our world?) a place for freedom.

Because we cannot ask for freedom only in the global markets, we have to pursue it into any single act of our life. So, if you are reading this note, and think you might have an idea or an example to share, I welcome them. They’ll be part of my forthcoming book for Gower Ashgate.

The title? Freedom management, of course…