Men Without Brains

Lance Creativity, Leadership, People Leave a Comment

In his book, The Abolition of Man, the ever-quotable C.S. Lewis penned this gem describing a shallow, vapid future for mankind:

And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

(Incidents like this one make Lewis look quite prophetic.)

Oddly enough, Lewis’ words apply with equal force to the soulless direction of too many corporate management efforts, in which the 21st Century knowledge worker is managed as if she is an early-20th Century assembly line factory worker. Consider:

And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our organizations need is more ‘ownership’, or passion, or innovation, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without brains and expect of them ingenuity and engagement. We manage against process variance and are shocked to find unthinking drones in our midst. We shackle and bid the workers be productive.

And we wonder why our people are unhappy, our processes are twisted knots of broken complexity, and our organizations are starving for an original thought.

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