Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creators and Obstructors

In the workplace, there are usually a few people we can count on to constructively support new initiatives. The first response of these Creators is "Let me help make it work." Support may include hard questions to expose risks and flaws, but the intent is to seek solutions and achieve the project's goals.

There are others who consistently oppose new ideas. The first response of these Obstructors is "Let me tell you why it won't work." Their intent in exploring risks and flaws is not to find solutions, but to shoot projects down.

You can see these same tendencies in social network and blog streams that are filled with Obstructor posts seeking to undermine and discredit the ideas and actions of others. Creator streams are dominated by interesting links, creative works and support for innovation.

In the avatar community, Second Life expatriates are a great example of the Creator spirit. Instead of endlessly complaining about Linden Lab's mismanagement, they took charge of their fate and are building new communities on other grids.  I'm especially impressed by those who are putting their money where their mouth is and investing in innovations such as Built Buy Me, Jibe and Kitely.

Those who are innovating within Second Life are also exemplars of the creative spirit, such as Amaretto Breedable Horse fans who raised $82,000 USD for Japanese relief.

I'm not suggesting that we should stop constructive criticism of Linden Lab or withhold comment on initiatives that impact the avatar community. That's part of responsible citizenship. But too many of us spend more time and effort obstructing the efforts of others, rather than working positively to actualize some better vision.

Thomas Paine's advice is still good today, "Lead, follow or get out of the way."


Anonymous said...

The problem is that sometimes people appear to be obstructors because they've learned their history. If you're being daft, then most creators will look like obstructors.

Fact is, there's no way to tell reliably who is going to be an obstructor and who is going to be a creator. It takes a long time, and you might still not figure it out by the end of it.

Botgirl Questi said...

On a case-by-case level, I agree with you. In many contentious situations, the conflict may be associated with undisclosed factors and have as much or more to do with personal/emotional issues than the real-time topic at hand.

That said, even in the case you mentioned when someone seems to be an obstructor because of hard-won knowledge, there's a difference between solely offering criticism , and also offering constructive help: "Here's why what you're proposing is a bad idea, and here's an alternative approach that may help you achieve what you want."