Process Controls or Commandments?

The other day I phoned my IT “help” desk.  They were polite, calm and pleasant but totally useless.

They wouldn’t do the one thing I asked them to do.  My request wasn’t unreasonable.  In fact the man on the other end of the line agreed with me, it was the obvious way forward.  But..

  • The computer said no
  • The controls wouldn’t allow it
  • He couldn’t
  • If he had even considered it, he would have been strung up from the roof top by his fingernails
  • And had boiling hot oil poured over him

His controls weren’t controls they were commandments

Be sparing with your commandments

Commandments are unequivocal.  They cannot be challenged.  They tell you right from wrong.

“Thou shalt not kill”

We like commandments, they endure, they make us feel secure, we don’t have to think.  But the world moves on, and commandments don’t.

Commandments are like anchors, they hold us in place.

Break your controls

We need rules at work, work instructions, controls, they lock in performance. They make sure that we do things the right way.  They make things consistent.

This is good, even essential.

But process controls are contextual, they should be challenged, changed and modified as time goes on.

When you find a “better way” find a “better control”.

Controls are like rungs on a ladder, they lift you up a step so you can improve, hold your gains and create a new control, a new step.

Do you have commandments or controls?

In your service centre you should have controls, controls to hold things straight, controls to prevent chaos.  But if you don’t update, change and challenge them, they will become commandments.  Set in stone.

Which would you like?

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 Though Shalt Not Park

Read another opinion

Image by 4nitsirk


  1. Hello James

    It occurs to me that you have hit the nail on the head. It is the policies that shape just about everything that happens or does not happen within the organistion.

    Our organisations, almost all of them, are run on the command and control system. The assumption is that people cannot be trusted nor can they be empowered as it might go to their head. So the imperative is to put in place command and straight jackets. The value of power lies in others not having it. This is something that management literature and the employee empowerment gurus forget. It is an unpleasant truth about human beings, perhaps that is why they forget it.

    All the best

  2. Hi James,
    It seems to me that how we respond to controls or commandments and how we improve is directly related to the culture of our organisation.

    Challenge for some would be natural and progressive but for others would be insubordination.

    What do you think?


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