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Follow the rules OR do what is right


Many organizations have a tribe of people who will follow the rules, no matter what.

When people get lazy, they want a rule to help them live their life. Rigid rules are for the lazy minded and people who just want to follow the tribe inside of the organization. Thinking, caring and doing what is right takes work...

  • The rule of job titles. Why does your job title matter? Chief, VP, Director, Assistant -  yadayada...Call yourself whatever is needed to bring in more customers or revenue for your company. You are doing what is right, but the rule says you should call yourself "Senior Associate Process Manager" - nobody wants to hear that title. Nobody.
  • The rule to dress a certain way because that is how people in your organization should dress. Why do people have to wear a tie if they will never see a customer? Why should you care how I dress?
  • The decision to fill out a tedious form to do a simple action because the rule says so vs. having a conversation with a customer or employee. Don't think, just fill out the form.

Following the rules is easy and takes the thinking and caring out of work. Plus - your organization wants a loyal rule follower.

The other approach is to get comfortable asking tough questions. People confuse questions with questioning authority. Good questions force us to analyze the way we have been doing things and make us do what is right. They force us to question the status quo and what came before us.

Good questions make a meeting look like rebellion but people who are not the obedient rule followers appreciate the inquiry and debate. Nobody is going to get hurt and everyone is going to come out better and smarter. The obedient organizations can't handle good questions. They only want questions aligned with their narrow vision.

The next time you get asked to do something from your obedient tribe of people. Ask why they are doing it that way, then be agile and do what is right - and that is often not what the rule says.

PS - I gave a talk about rules and technology HERE - at #DisruptHRSLC. I did not follow the rules of giving presentations either.