Seth Godin writes today on his blog:
I think you can tell a lot about a person or an organization by looking at how they deal with boundaries.
I agree. How we deal with boundaries tells a lot about who we are - as a person, as teams, and as organizations.
Seth writes about two observations: (1) how one responds to a 'wall' or a boundary, and (2) how one responds to the absence of a 'wall'.
When faced with a wall, does one stop - and let the wall be? Or does one look for holes, structural weaknesses, potential 'breakthrough' points to get through the wall?
When faced with the absence of a wall, do you see the expanse as a possibility - or as a threat to the current systems that you have and the successes that you have?
I think that the analogies are true: I have - in so many times in my career - faced so many walls. Some of them, I dared not to climb over - not necessarily in surrender, but in acceptance that it simply is and the search for a breakthrough point isn't worth the time nor the risk. Some I dared to climb over - believing that there must be something worthwhile (rightly or wrongly) on the other side of the wall.
However, the idea of boundaries actually could also be expanded: How one deals with 'legal' or 'regulatory' boundaries also tells a lot about a company (or a person).
Companies - for example - who find ways and means to 'maximize the power of the law' to find a way to make a profit by escaping taxes.
Or companies like the ones in China where we saw melamine-tainted milk: they were faced with a wall - the competition and the requirements of their clients - and they decided to go through that wall by using an additive that eventually resulted to deaths and hospitalization of infants.
Or companies that seek to challenge the boundaries of knowledge: Risk managers and financial engineers who believe that they "risk all figured out and suppressed" - they are perhaps one of the pivotal characters who have contributed to the meltdown of credit in the US and which started this global economic mess.
Or companies who - when faced with walls - would just simply shrug their shoulders and stare at the wall, thinking that one could will the wall away into oblivion by simply staring at it.
Indeed, how we deal with boundaries tell a lot about us - but how we deal with them tells others more than just about our determination nor our being visionaries (or otherwise). It doesn't just tell others how creative we are - or how 'typical' our thinking processes are.
It can also tell others how we respond to challenges - from the perspective of ethics and morals and respect for others.