Recently I watched a documentary on guide dogs. Many visually impaired and elderly people depend on guide dogs to get around safely and live independently. Guide dogs go through rigorous training and tests to prepare them for their role. I was moved seeing how a dog transforms into a trustworthy companion.
One of the tests that left me speechless is called the Intelligent Disobedience test. A dog must observe and decide quickly whether it should “disobey” the command given by the person. For example, the dog has been told to go forward on a train platform. But going forward will be landing on the tracks. The dog must stop at the edge of the platform sensing danger. There are many such instances for which one cannot be trained in advance. An ability to observe, reflect and then act, keeping in mind the larger objective of safe passage, is the ultimate mark of a great guide dog. A thinking guide and not just a great obeying-instructions dog.
I remember once a CIO had said, in a partner company, I am not just looking for ‘’short-order cooks’’ who are only good at executing tasks. In organisations innovation and progress depends on ‘’intelligent disobedience’’. This requires freedom of thought and not just structured obedience to authority.