The Missing Link to Innovation and Inclusion

Independent Work is (Only) Part of the Answer

On HBR Blog Network, Whitney Johnson writes: Independent Work May be Inevitable http://blogs.hbr.org/johnson/2013/02/independent-work-may-be-inevit.html

Absolutely. Independent work is inevitable (and a huge blessing) for some of the most talented people in our country, especially:
1) if the work is quantized, intellectual, and innovative
2) if the person needs, wants, and has the option (by reputation, economically) to risk to becoming more “whole”, including flexing time to care for children or others
3) because technology has evolved to make virtual work normal
4) because traditional corporate environments create organizational deficits of empathy which sap our energy and innovative spirit

So, this is a good answer for many of us, for now. It’s a path being taken especially by the most talented women. But is it enough to incite the revolution necessary to catalyze innovation and inclusion in this country, ultimately shoring up the revenue side of our deficit? Will creative destruction take place at a fast enough pace to replace our too-big-to-fail corporations? The industries I worry about most are the ones in which SCALE and INNOVATION are both vital (e.g., chemicals, high-tech manufacturing). The larger dynamic of talented people opting into independent work while resources, assets, and power concentrate in those who choose to rise in corporate environments can also be an issue. This dynamic, for better and worse, also contributes to the lack of talented women in leadership, which we often lament.

I thank goodness for the opportunity of independent work, selfishly. Most people are stuck without that option. We must also change our paradigms of leadership and organization at a larger scale to really make progress in this country. It’s difficult, but I hope it’s not impossible.

What do you think?

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