What to do when the rules just don’t apply anymore

The Challenge

The rules for success in the past often don’t apply in today’s world.

We’ve built business rules, procedures and policies that worked in the industrial and information age but are no longer applicable in the digital revolution. Many rules linger in our businesses and in our lives that just should not exist. Why must customers produce a till receipt when seeking an exchange? Why can’t we use our own computer devises? Why must we work from 9-5 in an office at a desk? Many rule become entrenched in the mantra of “how we do things” and when challenged they are like unmoving brick-walls to promising progress. Often no one really knows or can remember where the rules came from or why they even exist but because “this is how it has always been done,” like frogs in a pot of warming water, we stick with the red tape and bureaucracy because maybe it’s more comfortable than making the effort to change.

The Solution

Don’t wait for the pot to boil over before you, metaphorically speaking, try to get your organisation to jump out. Every leader needs to embark on a crusade to rid their organisation and talent of the silly rules that hold them back, frustrate and infuriate.

Here’s how: Every rule, procedure or policy needs a champion, one person willing to explain why the rule exists and why it adds value to the organisation and more importantly its customers. When you come across a silly rule ask: “who owns the rule?” If there is no championing person or legal or legitimate value-enhancing reason, get rid of the rule.

Sometimes it is compliance that will draconically insist on rules. This can be a difficult force to overcome but by using the power of asking questions, great progress can be made, especially if the compliance in question comes from a regulatory body. Questions help people to consider rules from different angles and find new solutions. Rather than telling people a rule needs to change ask for example: “how can this rule be changed to make customers lives better?

Use this image at your next team meeting. Ask people to challenge the dumb, silly and stupid rules holding your team, company and industry back. You may find by asking these questions you discover the next great innovative industry transforming opportunity. Go on, Steve jobs did and look what he achieved.

 

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