image1 image2 image3


What a little freedom can do

As a school kid, I always enjoyed Math and Science more than the other classes I had to attend. Needless to say, I did better in these than in the others.

I would always solve a problem on my own and then see how the teacher solved it. I didn't always solve the problem the way it was done by the teacher. Sometimes I was more elegant, and many times, I was less elegant in my solution. If I was stuck and unable to solve, I would try several ways of solving it before turning to the text book or to the teacher. And this behaviour was encouraged.

Now that I look back at my school and college days, I see a pattern. I did well in courses where this behaviour was encouraged. I didn't always do well in courses where I was encouraged to stick to a set way of thinking and any deviation was frowned upon.

The case is the same at work as well. I can generalise and say that I enjoy doing tasks where there is a process of discovery involved, where there is opportunity to define how something needs to be done, and where there is no mandate to stick to a set of instructions. Turns out people like me are in the majority. A study conducted by Yona Kifer of Tel Aviv University and published in Psychological Science says so.

I'm seeing less of this freedom being given to students by teachers, to children by parents, to sub-ordinates by managers. There is definitely a need for ensuring a disciplined approach to things. But it is only a handful of times.

Trust and confidence in allowing someone to do things their way is more effective most of the time.

Share this: