Changing the Rules

All organisations have rules

We have rules about expenses and rules about systems access.  There are rules about promotions and rules about mobile phones.  Still more rules about budgets and rules about supplier gifts. Organisations have hundreds of rules.  These rules, explicit or not, define the way our organisations work.

The problem with rules

If we played word association and I said “rule” I guess you would say “control”.

Rules are added to control staff and prevent them from doing things.  They are layered in arbitrarily without thinking about the consequences.

  • You can’t apply for a job within 6 months of taking up a new one (even if your boss is a nightmare).
  • You can’t look at YouTube on your work laptop (not even a training video).
  • You can’t take a taxi and put it on expenses (even if it is midnight, raining and you are in a foreign town).
  • You must dress professionally (who gets to define professional?)

The rules are powerful

But they are rarely challenged or their impact understood.  Powerful people who impose the rules hardly ever have the gumption to admit they got them wrong.  When was the last time you heard a politician admit he instigated a stupid rule?

Changing the rules

What would happen if you changed the rules in your workplace?  Instead of using rules to control people you could use them to control the system you work within.

Here are a couple of rules I would like to try.  What would happen if…

Would those rules be sacrilegious or sensible?  There are organisations that apply them.

Try something new, it doesn’t have to be permanent.  You can test rules and change them, keep what is helpful, through out what is not.

Rule your organisation, not your people.

Which rule would you change?

Know the rules well so you can break them effectively ~ The Dalai Lama

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  1. Love your new rules, James. I know some companies are attempting this today… look forward to seeing how that plays out.

    Annette :-)

  2. Worth a look at the Corporate Rebels site to find some examples