February 19, 2009

Keith Reinhard's Four Freedoms


1. The Freedom from Fear

Talent freezes in the grip of fear. The creative mind shuts down, constricting the natural flow of words and ideas. Fear results from decisions arrived at in secret deliberation, the basis of which is not disclosed. People do not fear truth, they fear the arbitrary use of power for reasons they don't understand. Fear is paralyzing beyond reason.

Management by intimidation has no place in an organization dedicated to nurturing creativity.

2. The Freedom to Fail

It is the nature of creative talent to venture beyond the known - to poke into the unheard of - to pick its way through scary places, untrod by conventional minds. Because there are no assurances these idea-searching patrols will succeed, the seekers must be granted the latitude to fail in order to sustain their willingness to pursue again.

It is the job of management to first point talented people in the right direction and then to judge their work. But if the approach to that works is responsible and intelligent, people must never be criticized for daring to fail.

This freedom is not an excuse for behavior which produces one failure after another. But its presence should encourage our people to take the well-calculated risk and Go For it!

3. The Freedom from Chaos

Talent flounders in an atmosphere of management indecision, vacillation, arrogance and uncertainty. It requires benign discipline. The talented mind may seem erratic, but it welcomes an understanding or responsibilities that is clear, yet roomy enough to permit the floating dram.

Such responsibilities must be freely agreed to and well understood by all hands before talent takes its place in our organization. Once committed, continuing instructions from management must be consistent with that understanding.

Given the inevitable turbulence produced by today's business conditions, it becomes more important than ever to avoid creating chaos on our own.

4. The Freedom to Be

Each individual has a right to be treated with dignity, to be supported in his or her ambitions for higher achievement, and to be provided with a place where a career can grow in the direction of one's own choosing.

But beyond providing for professional growth, talent must be permitted to enjoy a life in which there is also time for laughter, and music, and love, and celebration, and the space to enjoy them.

Not only do we ask our managers to respect each individual's right to a life outside the workplace, we also expect them to maintain an environment that encourages laughter and celebration on the job.

(Note: the fourth freedom, originally written in 1987, was expanded to the version above in 1993.

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