This thought of Ownership haunted my thoughts all day yesterday as I went through my daily work routine. At each point, in each task, I asked myself "Do I own this? Should I own this?"
The internal actions were interesting, to say the least.
On the one hand I had the experience of one of our many electronic systems which is not working all that well - and has not done so for almost 3 years. The thought rolled through my mind "Do I own this? Should I own this?" The sudden sense of piling effort into something that simply seemed to be not repairable doomed any chance I would immediately pick up the torch.
On the other hand I sat through a training proposal on another system where my opinion for at least part of the process was solicited. I looked at the proposals, thought about it for a minute, and then quietly deferred my decision. I did not want ownership of this process or of the solutions, because looking at the options none of them seemed truly good.
Was there anything I really wanted to own today? Honestly, I do not know that I could say that there was. Possibly a training I did but that was about it. The result? I did not really feel like there was anything that was truly worth "owning" about what I do today, merely a set of tasks to be accomplished.
Ironically this proves the point of the aforementioned executive manager from yesterday, the one that started this whole thought process: without ownership, effort becomes merely a task and true progress is not probably realized. At the same time it proves the other side of the point: if the task is meaningless or imposed without purpose, ownership becomes either completely forced or not at all done for any reason than it has to be accomplished - perhaps done, but without passion or the zest that truly moves progress forward.
The solution? Perhaps I am not closer to one than I was the day before - except that to realize that ownership cannot be imposed by others and especially not when the thing to be owned is by default broken or pointless. Ownership derives from within, based on both pride of work as well pride of purpose for the work.
The question is, where does this combination live?