Schlagwort-Archive: Rules

Tool beats rule

In the wake of long-term growth and tackled crises, bureaucracy proliferates in all corporate corners. This is especially true to large companies, which are fueling the wild growth by creating job positions for specialists, who are constantly adding new regulations to the bureaucracy without abolishing old ones. This is done primarily by creating new rules that transfer responsibility to the users – instead of providing tools in which application is already programmed.

The corresponding tools range from self-explanatory forms, to deployed procedures, to apps that offer users the necessary answers. Although forms exist for a long time, they are often not really self-explanatory. The tool beats the rule in terms of effectiveness due to the following effects.

  • You choose instead of following
    Tools solve tasks that are prepared in such a way that the intended outcomes are the result at the end. This forces the official apparatus to think in advance how the results should look like, what you need for the result and in which steps you will achieve it. Depending on the task, this can be the shortest route or a ramified network of routes, which also allow complex requirements and personal preferences in the processing. The user chooses instead of following guidelines that would not help him in the application, because they only determine what must be done – rather actively than passively.
  • You learn, instead of apologizing
    Unfortunately rules only draw boundaries that do not allow crossing without clearly stating what has to be done or how to achieve the goals. The limitations that are part of the objectives impede additionally – not to mention the discouraging effects of repeated apologies. The way out is provided by tools which require a willingness to learn and a comprehensive introduction – rather open than closed.
  • You act, instead of thinking
    Routine behavior is not possible in the beginning of a new approach. It requires repeated performance and the development of personal experiences to internalize a routine. By providing tools that are prepared in such a way that they offer room for maneuver to the users and at the same time produce the desired result, everyone acts within the framework provided. Over time, experiences are exchanged, people enrich each other and thus create the best possible results. Rules, in contrast, offer little guidance on how to proceed. They lead to ever new approaches in order to create the error-free results – rather practice than theorizing.
  • You perform, instead of improvising.
    The avoidance of unnecessary activities is one of the reasons for setting up rules. The wheel is reinvented again and again in the task processing and generates further expenses in the cooperation, which undermine the potential of the teams. However, pointing out what is not allowed, leads employees to put their energy into personal optimization. As a result, obvious weaknesses are not eliminated for fear of drawbacks. By means of appropriate tools, resolutions are well prepared and can be easily readjusted with the help of appropriate feedback loops. These performance increases of the company are prepared in form of appropriate tools in an engineering-like manner – rather straightforward than meandering.
  • You adapt the tool, instead of yourself
    Rules usually contain roughly prescribed procedures. The perfidy lies in the detail, when the application leads to different intermediate results and thus to different result quality. In order to function at all, those involved adapt to the specifications, which means that a large part of their additional possible contributions gets lost. It is smarter to provide a tool that the users can adapt to their needs, i.e. tools that provide alternative ways to the result for the various personalities, e.g. top-down or bottom-up procedures; frontloading, just-in-time, or backloading. Over time, the experiences of the employees flow into the tool and it becomes more and more appropriate – rather mastering than being mastered.
  • You find, instead of developing
    A tool can often do more than originally intended. Think of a screwdriver – tightening or loosening screws; levering or prying open something; piercing or widening holes; bracing something; etc. Administrative tools, such as mechanisms for application and approval, can be reused in different environments. You then have a standardized approach that becomes after a short time common practice for everyone. Not to mention the effort of having to develop the same task over and over again with different approaches – rather reusing than reinventing.

Bottom line: Looking at your own bureaucracy is the first step in overcoming the legacy of regulations. For creating additional sets of rules and regulations that burden rather than relieve the flow, new rules should be introduced as practical tools. With the corresponding freedom in the tools, the users’ willingness to design is promoted, the basis for error tolerance is created, routine is possible, waste is avoided, the knowledge of the best procedure is implemented in the tool, reuse is possible and, above all, undesirable behavior is minimized. The expected harmonization and the compliance of the employees can thus be designed – the provided tool beats the given rule.

Agility does not tolerate a bonsai style

Bonsai is the art of influencing the growth of trees in such a way that the trees have a beautiful growth habit through artistic designing, but kept small in pots by regular cuts. The result is a large variety of original, apparently wild trees. In nature these trees would grow into the sky. A similar approach has evolved within enterprises. Bonsai style is the art of keeping employees small. This micro management affects the employee activities, like the scissors on the growth of trees. Agility that depends on pro-activity, initiative and flexibility of the people, cannot tolerate bonsai style.

What defines the bonsai style that undermines agility?

  • More criticism than praise
    Representatives of the bonsai style have the tendency to nip the however small commitment of employees in the bud by caviling incessantly. It makes no difference, whether the objections are justified or not. The whole is intensified by the absence of praise. In an agile world such leader could not take a stand, since nobody would follow them.
  • Devalue results with formalities
    The agile employees are driven people of their own aspiration. The attention is limited to the resolution. This leads to the fact that aspects that do not have much to do with the solution are faded out as of minor importance. Does the tie fit? Did you use the official forms? Is the Font correct? The result consists of eighty-percent problem solution. The bad evaluation of the formalities completely misses the goal and tramples all over the tender seedling of the employee commitment.
  • Consistently pulling the superior joker
    After many years of the development, the learning organization, the employee participation, and the teambuilding with their standards, evaluations and decisions from above, the power structures are still in place. Now those, who came to their limits, expect a debureaucratization and the utilization of the inherent employee energy of wanting to create something. However, if no one comes forward voluntarily, the volunteers are determined. If nobody delivers what the superiors expect, the employees get their result adapted by micro management. For safeguarding the business, the hierarchical structures are kept besides the agile ones.
  • Disparaged in the plenum
    A very effective approach, in order to keep the employees small, are offending comments in the public. Devaluing remarks on the personal work style, on small mistakes in the argumentation or on the editing, guarantee that the employees lose their face. The anticipatory commitment of the agile employee is then no longer probable.
  • Micro management
    The always not available, but obsessed with details 24/7 micro managers are actually their best agile employees. Their commitment always is at maximum. They worry about everything and they are decisive. Unfortunately they don’t have the time to consider, because they have incessantly tasks, which they obviously have to worry about. Since everything excites their attention, they cannot manage to get used to the work and contribute thereby nothing. Understandably, they cannot accomplish their actual function. Micro management is one of the largest hurdles on the way to the agility.
  • Missing covering
    The attitude to correct at any time each detail at discretion leads to the fact that the employees are quickly alone without covering, exposed to the problem in case of crisis. In order to be able to act agilely, they need however the trust from above that their actions always take place in the interest of the larger whole. Where a lot of things happen, there happen also many errors. Error tolerance is an approach, to provide good covering. In the context of agility a remaining leadership task is the boundless support and employee shielding, when they process the topics self-organized.
  • Rule one and two
    Apart from the micro management the largest agility killers are the rules of power. Rule 1: The boss is always right. Rule 2: If he is not right, then automatically rule 1 is valid. Thereby the budding initiative has no chance to prove itself on a long-term basis and to develop an effective solution.

Bottom line: As long as the old approaches for the company design remain unchanged, like the hierarchical structure, the chain of command, or the superior joker, the associated disadvantages also remain. The generous authorization of the employees with sufficient resources, powers and support is crucial for exhausting the advantages of agile approaches. Bonsai style prevents thereby the desired effects since an employee initiative nipped in the bud cannot flourish.