Sunday, August 19, 2012

Between Autocracy and Autonomy


This has been on my mind recently because a number of situations have come up when things either seemed to be handed down by a leading decision maker, or decided upon by stake holders of a common nature. I am certainly an egalitarian type of person and that is my preference for decision making, unless it happens that one person is uniquely qualified to make the right decision (such as an expert). However I have witnessed the painful silence many times as no one offers a suggestion, despite an easy or obvious answer. Then one person takes the lead and directs the group. 

We are talking about the difference between a dictatorship like North Korea and  something like the Occupy movement. Neither one is probably the best form of organization. On the one hand, dictatorships can accomplish significant things due to their alignment, but history has shown us many times even in the last 75 years when the people under a dictator are taken advantage of, marginalized, and often killed. On the other hand the collective decision making of something like the Occupy movement is a utopianism because everybody gets a say, but coming to a collective decision even in a small group over simple things, can take hours. 

I have witnessed this in every aspect of my life recently, from corporate work to coaching to road trips. It is interesting because sometimes I feel that it would be nice for someone else to make the decision for the group. Other times I feel we should discuss the issue more so that we come to a more well understood solution. 

The solution of who makes the decisions or how the decisions are made lies somewhere in the middle. A parent would be an autocratic ruler to an infant, yet a group of adults deciding when to stop for food on a road trip would be an autonomous or collective decision. I don’t have the answer. I just want the right one.

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