Enabling vs. Allowing.

There’s a wealth of meaning in a word.

Listening to the news this morning, I learned that the Government is to allow families to meet as a priority. That is of course more than welcome, but I was struck by the use of the word “allow” rather than “enable”.

It’s a small big thing. Allowing implies a “command and control” “Government knows best” mindset. Hierarchical thinking. Whereas enabling suggests distibuted power and trust.

In the same bulletin was news that one minor government department is to establish an office in Wolverhampton, in what was billed as “the end of Westminster knows best”. Perhaps news doesn’t travel very far sideways in the density of Westminster silos.

I think it’s part of a bigger picture, and something in the air that we all sense, even if we can’t yet describe. Increasing mobility does not mean back to normal. The NHS will not go back in it’s box and nor will we go back wholesale to blind commuting to soulless offices.

Whether it’s government, or business, enabling is on the agenda. Allowing may be an easier notion for bureaucratic mindsets, but it’s too late.

Enable or wither.

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