INTELLIGENT DISOBEDIENCE – 04.04.2020 ©
The usual explanation of Intelligent disobedience is that it occurs where a service animal trained to help a disabled person goes directly against the owner’s instructions in an effort to make a better decision (about to walk into an unexpected hole). This behaviour is a part of the dog’s training and is central to a service animal’s success on the job.
For no other reason than to gain a real hold on this concept, I argue that the dog was in fact trained for this event and was carrying out that training. Certainly, the person relying on the dog may have thought it was being disobedient, but they took the dog knowing it had this training; could second guess their intuition, had the authority indeed the obligation to do so.
So comments that demonstrate that people get approval to act disobediently before doing so I don’t see as pertinent to the core of this potential. Acting away from standard policy, procedure, authority with approval is surely part of continuous improvement? The sort of thing that comes out of a SWOT, a risk assessment, a search for new ways through a survey, brainstorm or many of the other ways to investigate opportunity/risk.
So I suggest, Intelligent disobedience is about someone acting with experience and skills, sound knowledge of core company values, away from accepted organisational standards for the purpose of satisfying needs though improved thinking. This being more aligned to a decision that is needed on the spot when usual authority is not available.
Otherwise the benefit of thinking about this subject of Intelligent disobedience is pertinent to the thinking potential of an organisational group. When the impact of group think (individuals signing their thinking over to agreeing with others) and pre-emptive think (individuals deciding not to pursue a line of thought because it has previously been disallowed) is recognised as the cancer to thinking and open contribution it isn’t, then developing a culture where it is appropriate to disagree, is essential.
This will require a sense of true Leadership for this concept to flourish; ‘it is not only OK to disagree but an essential element of collaboration’.The giving of thought outside of the norm needs to be received positively – that is not necessarily agreed with but received and nurtured to extract the essence of the thought and build on that though dissection and investigation.
Given that many individuals will have firsthand experience at being dressed down for daring to think outside of policy and procedures, would have witnessed others receiving that treatment, the leader will need to be consistent in their approach and welcoming and supportive – this is the main impediment to developing an ID culture.