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William L. McKnight, chairman of 3M, in …

William L. McKnight, chairman of 3M, in 1948(!):

As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.

Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.

Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.

Last week’s read was William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, which I heartily recommend as it exposed to me several shortcomings in my own writing processes. This week, I’m reading through Scott Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation, which is a work full of truths that, deep down, everyone knows but finds hard to accept.

The Myths of Innovation led me to track down and watch this YouTube video of a Google Tech Talk from Berkun, which in turn led to my discovery of the above quote.

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