The cost of neutral

Seth Godin:

If you go to work and do what you’re told, you’re not being negative, certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate (which, alas, you were trained not to demonstrate) costs us all, because you’re using a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have added more value.

So true.



  • http://twitter.com/dmkraig Donald Michael Kraig

    Except that in most businesses, that’s exactly what they want. You’re just an “asset,” not a person. If they could get a robot that just follows instructions, they’d gladly have it replace you. And if they could save 1¢ per year by firing your a$$, you’re outta there.

    • DanielSw

      Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You’re just looking to blame someone else for your own lack of initiative. Otherwise, you’d be agreeing with what’s being said here. The only truly effective cure for the bad economy, for inflation, etc., is simply for people to do their jobs–which DOESN’T mean to merely do what they’re told. It means being a team member who actively and intelligently contributes his/her job actions coordinated with others’ actions to produce the finished products of the company.

      • lucascott

        I agree and disagree with you.

        In some jobs, yes doing what you are told is your job. In others, like the meeting mentioned in the article, you were likely brought in to brainstorm/develop and so your job is to think and speak.

        The trick is to know which is correct and be the best at it. Not just shrug your shoulders and act like a cog in a non cog job. And if you are a non cog type in a cog job, you better be looking for a new job because you will be miserable.

        • Daniel Swanson

          Even in a cog type job there is some possibility for incremental innovation. E.g., learn the “being told” part very well and think of ways to improve on routine in the areas of economies of actions, sequences of actions, customized tools and gauges for quality checking, etc. Suggestions could be made, if only anonymously, for such improvements.

      • http://twitter.com/Moeskido Moeskido

        Initiative is not always appreciated by a business that is run by functionaries who were hired by bozos. A new worker might have great ideas about how to improve the process, but that doesn’t mean a supervisor will be either interested or intelligent enough to care.

    • lucascott

      If that is true of ‘most’ businesses then it would explain why most businesses fail.

      And thanks to various state employment laws, rarely to never will a company save major money by firing something since they will have to pay unemployment taxes to cover such cases.

  • http://twitter.com/studuncan Stu Duncan

    Bullshit, for two reasons.

    1. Not every initiative is good. Change for change’s sake can be disastrous.

    2. Not every person has initiative. There’s a lot of ‘slots’ that would be empty (and unproductive) if just looking for people with initiative.

    In other words, everyone is not created equally. Not everyone can be the best. Most people are average.