Structured Freedom – In action

May 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Real-life experiences, Structured freedom | Leave a comment

There is a building next to our office which is currently being demolished to be rebuilt fresh into something else. It used to be a lively place as one of my client’s office, which I had visited often more than a decade back in my previous avatar as a one-man software development organization. Almost every day, I have been gazing at it nostalgically remembering my experiences in different rooms as one by one they keep coming down. I see the old structures vanishing and the freedom locked within being released with immense new possibilities emerging. By now, all the old structures are gone and the place is in a state of almost complete freedom, except for the boundary walls. The whole experience reminds me of my favorite concept of structured freedom.

In the absence of any structure the total freedom is useless, as you can’t do anything with it. The people who inhabited the building needed the structures to enjoy their freedom. They could work safely because of the walls. They didn’t have to stand the whole day because there were comfortable chairs. They were not sweating in summer because there were air-conditioners. They could see things clearly because of comfortable lighting with all its wiring with fittings & fixtures. In short, all those structures helped them to go about their work and not be bothered with the inconveniences. Structures are good – they help us. But do they also sometimes come in the way of our freedom?

One day during my visit, I had noticed that they were shifting their accounts section to another room because they needed the current space for expanding the testing facility for the engineers. But the new place available for the accounts guys was comparatively small and I could see the unhappiness on their faces. The engineers of course were happy and so was the management because the dispatches would now go up.

The chairs & other accessories could be easily moved around because they are flexible structures. Same thing could not be done with walls because they are rigid and to change them you need to break them.

This was the case with the physical structures, but the management had also to deal with the mental structures. Some of those who had to move out adjusted quickly while others kept nursing the wounded ego. The management had to deal with soft versus hard structures and choose a strategy suitable for each type. This was an interesting case study in retrospect.

Now my mind was back in the present. On one hand I was sorry for something that was brick by brick going away forever. On the other, I was excited by the brand new structures I would get a chance to see soon. But that is what life really is about, isn’t it?

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