Zen and the Perils of Micromanagement

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters 1917-1961

An AI-generated painting in traditional Japanese style of a worried business owner talking with a Buddhist monk.
Image generated with AI by DALL-E.

“My, you seem troubled,” said the Master to the Kashira.

“I am, Master,” said the Kashira. “My employees never finish their work on time. And whatever I say seems to make things worse.”

“What did you tell them?” asked the Master.

“Well, it was two full moons ago, and my employees had once again not finished their assignments. I had enough and told them they must figure out a way to be on time.”

“And how did they respond?”

“They took their tasks home every night to work some more,” the Kashira said. “But then, I couldn’t see what they were doing. So, I made them stay in the workplace until late. And I ordered them to report to me every morning.”

“Did you indeed,” said the Master. “And then, what happened?”

“They finished even later, Master. Tell me, what else can I do to discipline them?”

“Discipline them?” said the Master. “How old are the employees?”

The Kashira looked at the Master in surprise. “How old? They’re all in their twenties to forties.”

“I see,” said the Master. “Then, why treat them like children?”

At that moment, the Kashira was Enlightened.

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