They say in business that “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,” a phrase that encourages one to take action first, and worry about consequences second. Presumably, the action taken is the right thing to do, and the process of requesting permission is a bureaucratic exercise which slows the whole process down.

In an ideal world, the two should not be mutually exclusive. Everyone in your organization should be required to take immediate action when necessary, to do what’s right for their internal or external customer, without lengthy deliberation.

On the other hand, organizations need structure and process, and having a bunch of “loose cannons” around, acting without considering their impact on others, can be counterproductive at the very least, disastrous at worst.

The key, as with most things, is to maintain balance. Creating a culture of mutual respect, where stakeholders have a degree of autonomy, combined with accountability, is essential to the most successful enterprises – whether they are businesses, non-profits, volunteer organizations, or governments.