How to Eliminate Stupid Rules

The stupid things I’ve done were done sincerely. I thought I was helping. It’s possible to sincerely believe you’re being helpful when you’re doing harm.

Sincerity doesn’t erase stupid. 

the stupid things I've done were done sincerely......

Smart leaders do stupid things. When leaders tolerate out-dated unnecessary rules that make work more difficult, they lack common sense.

Eliminate stupid rules.

3 reasons smart leaders do stupid things:

#1. Stupid seemed smart. Stupid rules had good reasons. Over-caution seems smart, but it’s stupid in changing or turbulent environments. Smart is time specific.

A saboteur lurks on the over-cautious side. Simple Sabotage

Bob Frischz: Saboteurs are trying to be helpful (2:09):

#2. Smart turns stupid when circumstances change. Smart is situation specific.

#3. Power, authority, and position seduce you into thinking you’re smarter than others. The chair at the head of the table doesn’t increase your smarts. It may make you dumb.

Better to think you’re stupid when you’re smart than to think you’re smart when you’re stupid. When you believe something is true – when it isn’t – you end up doing stupid things.

4 stages to eliminate stupid rules*:

#1. Identify. What stupid behaviors are happening in your organization? Where is the sand in the machine? Rob Galford, co-author of Simple Sabotage, asks leaders to discuss the stupidest rule they have. He indicates they quickly come up with stupid rules.

#2. Calibrate. What is the range of acceptable behaviors? Embrace common sense.

#3. Remediate. Give people the right to call out the behavior or protect against it.

#4. Innoculate. Create a system where you measure behaviors and prevent stupid rules.

*Bob Frisch on the four stages (4:05)

Why do smart leaders do dumb things?

How might leaders protect their organization against stupid rules?


Bonus material:

Bob Frisch on how to begin conversations about good caution – bad caution (2:17):

Bob Frisch is co-author of Simple Sabotage. I’ve had loads of fun reading this useful book.