Beware of approval

Dick Richards picks up on the Performance Appraisal conversation. He quotes his own book and I think it’s worth repeating (my emphasis).

We are legitimately mystified most of us confused between what we really want and what will gain approval. In our culture based on Newtonian science and supported by mystification, we typically gain the approval we desire by not being ourselves, by not being artful.

At work, to the extent that people are rewarded for being other than themselves, the company contributes to sustaining mystification and the wish for approval. This process precludes the possibility of artful work because artistry requires engagement of the self the true self, not the mystified self.

Our management technology, emerging as it does from the very paradigm it proposes to change, instead feeds the need for approval by focusing on reward systems, management style, recognition, and appraisal. This amounts to asking, How can we get people to do what we want them to do? The answer is, Encourage the need for approval. The implication is that, left to their own devices and free from the need for approval, people will do something destructive to the organization.

I think there’s a deep seated fear that the loosening of control will tip us into chaos. One of the reasons I love Improv is that it keeps teaching me that when you let go of rules what emerges is not chaos but a new and often rather wonderful kind of order.

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