Make Your Declaration of “In-dependence”!

Let’s face it: We all like to be independent. We like to know that we can take care of ourselves, that we can handle a crisis, that we can “rise above.”  And that’s a good thing. Nobody, after all, likes to be around people who can’t manage to take care of themselves.

But what about at work? Is this drive for autonomy really best for everybody?

Unless you work just for yourself, we argue that it’s NOT a great thing to be so completely self-sufficient. In fact, we think organizations are better off when people engage meaningfully with each other. That means we need to balance our urge to be independent with an acceptance that we are “in-dependence” with others. We need others and they need us.

How, exactly?

We exist in a network of “mutual relationships,” in which we others provide things that help us do our jobs, and we do the same for them. It could be as simple as providing data or a report, or as complex as completing job descriptions and capital expenditure budgets. But it’s always true. Always. No matter what the case, we do our work for a purpose, and that necessarily implies that someone else needs what we provide.  Even in the most basic organizational structure—something like an assembly line, for example—the person to your left gives something to you and the person to your right gets something from you. It’s a fundamental business axiom.

We believe that it’s time to think differently about how we value autonomy and independence as virtues for their own sake. It’s time to consider that what we should really value—and reward—is the ability to understand, respect, and balance our needs at work with the needs of others. Only when both are considered can an organization thrive.

Curious to learn more? We have a white paper on the topic which you can request here.


Growing Relationships

April has just begun and, after a brief April Fool’s Day snow storm has melted away, tiny green daffodil shoots are poking up in our front yard. Thoughts of sunny, warmer days ahead are playing in my mind; it will soon be the beginning of the CSA farm season.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is an opportunity for black-thumbs like me to support a local farmer — in our case, Roger and Lori Noonan of Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, NH — by investing in a share of their vegetable crops. This is a win-win proposition. Roger and Lori receive financial support to help sustain their land, equipment, feed and such. We receive in exchange a weekly share of fantastic vegetables and fruits conveniently delivered to a central pick-up location where share owners like myself meet, select from what’s available that week, share recipes (what exactly can I make with this much kohlrabi anyway?) and then head home to slice, cube, puree, saute, bake and preserve whatever we’ve selected.  Then we do it all again a week later, with the ritual continuing into October, when the last of the pumpkins and squash signal the end of another seasonal cycle.

As you might imagine, our relationship with “our” farm goes well beyond the one-to-one collaboration we have with our farmer. We are contributing to and participating in the well-being of the farm, absolutely; we are also contributing to the well-being of our ecosystem, our earth, by supporting the Noonan’s efforts with clean farming — devoid of harmful pesticides, hormones or unnatural farming practices. He, in turn, provides us with — hands down — the best tasting produce we’ve ever had and rich, tasty eggs with dark-yellow yolks. We truly believe that we are both feeding ourselves and feeding the earth.

But for me the most valuable thing about being part of Roger and Lori’s ecosystem is the tremendous respect the entire system has for itself.  The Noonan’s do what they do best, the soil does what it does best, and I do what I do best.  The result is seed-to-table nourishment for all. But the ecosystem only works when it is nurtured, when attention is paid.  Without it plants would dry up, eggs would be tasteless.  Respect and attention is what’s needed.

It occurs to me that all of our relationships are part of an ecosystem just like Roger and Lori’s, if we only pay close enough attention to them.  Our friends and family, the people we work with, the people we buy things from or sell things to.  Being aware of them–respecting them–is all important. It’s what makes it all… well… nourishing.

Best to all,


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