Kids test boundaries to learn what works and what doesn’t. It can be annoying, but it’s apparently a necessary process. And it’s a process that wise adults handle with care, because there are traps. The critical parent succumbs to their annoyance and stifles the youngster’s ability to thrive in a changing world. The weak parent fails to set boundaries and opens the door to life-wasting delinquency.

Looked at this way, the current conflict between Uber and London’s transport authorities is a natural and fascinating process. So is the conflict between innovative and conservative forces inside companies, where the corporate apparatus can easily play the stifling critical parent, and innovation leaders have to be careful not to enable unruly little monsters.

What’s needed is clear space within boundaries. Cities are having to figure this out with Uber (and AirBnB, and self-driving cars and the internet of things).

Companies who want to be innovative also have to balance space and boundaries, yet many leave this balance to chance. It should be an active and ongoing top management conversation.

Andy’s Advice: Be like the wise grandparent: lead the family negotiations so the the critical parent is comfortable with the boundaries, while the young upstart has some room to play and grow. You can adapt ideas from GE Fastworks or Adobe Kickbox for example.

 

 


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