During national election cycles we hear a lot about “the founders” of our country. Candidates spend a lot of time parsing their words and trying to decipher what “the founders” meant 200+ years ago when they wrote the documents that govern our nation. Thomas Jefferson isn’t here to tell us exactly what they meant when the Constitution was written. Maybe that’s a good thing. It allows us to explore the basic values, interpret them and adapt them to new realities. That’s definitely a good thing.

And what about founders in organizations? How beholden are we to those who created the organizations in which we now work? In many cases, because the baby boomers are famously hanging on to their positions, we don’t have to interpret; they’re here to tell us exactly what they intended 20, 30, 40 (or even 50!) years ago when they created this place. Sometimes it’s easy to get the message just from their support (or lack of support) for innovation.

It’s time to look forward – to take the best of the past and be able to interpret it for a new future, but sometimes it’s tough to do that when the founders are right here telling us exactly what they intended.

If Thomas Jefferson was here right now, I think he’d have a hard time letting us interpret the Constitution for ourselves.