How to rule out rules?

Having rules is safe.

Rules protect

Rules simplify

Rules create consistent

Rules maintain predictability

Not having rules is dangerous.

Rules mask individuality

Rules stifle creativity

Rules kill vitality

In my opinion, rules are a weak leader’s first line of defense. Every time something goes wrong, weak leaders create new rules to prevent failures. Writing rules is a backward-facing attempt at solving past problems. Let’s get real about rules.

Don’t jettison rules if:

  1. You “play” in a highly regulated space.
  2. You have high turn over
  3. Process and Procedures are legal necessities
  4. Procedures establish consistency

Jettison rules if:

  1. Everyone understands and embraces organizational values, mission, and vision.
  2. Ownership is high.
  3. Deliverables are clearly defined, understood, and agreed to.
  4. Accountability is a positive concept that’s engrained in organizational culture.

Organizations that rely on rules suggest weak leadership, organizational confusion, poor communication, and disengaged employees. Rules drain joy, quench motivation, stifle creativity, and choke productivity. Worse yet, rules create the wrong kind of work.

Organizations that rely on rules are top heavy monsters with midlevel managers dedicated to enforcement and paper pushing. Rather than enabling and motivating they drain vitality.

Finally, rule-making organizations promote rule keepers who then create more rules.

Note: I’m not suggestion organizations do away with all rules. Organizations devoid of rules are in chaos. I am suggesting many organizations rely too heavily on restrictive rules that alleviate leaders of their responsibilities.


What is dangerous about living with fewer rules?

How could organizations move toward fewer rules?