Against policy

2009-11-25

Policy creates structure for an organization. Policy limits errors, waste and creativity. Policy makes the irresponsible produce expected results. It can also corrode high responsibility levels.

A creative, high initiative and responsible person can be structured to carefulness, seriousness and inactivity. Excellence demands more than thinking outside the box – it requires acting outside the limits. Quantum leaps means taking risks, not only managing or mitigating them. Emphasis on policy and structure builds an organizational system, a machine producing the expected output. Geniuses, the wildly creative and people of outstanding initiative and responsibility create the unexpected. Sometimes the brilliant. Sometimes havoc. But desperately avoiding the trouble will leave out the excellent. With policy one can regulate and make all the people behave according to the rules.

There is much to recommend toeing a party line. Well organized groups can raise the standard of output. Toyota comes to mind. Henry Ford pioneered it. But it will never foster an Einstein, an Edison or a Da Vinci.

Individuality must be preserved for an organization to excel. And policy must never replace common, uncommon or even rare sense. The essence of good structure is to keep it minimal and really, really simple. The litmus test is if an organizational concept can be conveyed to a ten year old in 15 minutes. If not, it’s too complex, too cumbersome.

Unfortunately some policy is needed. But only because all the people are not brilliant and in constant synchronization. Because an army of telepathic geniuses needs no command.

The Church of Scientology exemplifies a policy heavy organization where rules and structure tend to outshine the very result it aims to produce – individuals of free will, daring and caring well beyond the norm. Reaching one’s own potential and freedom is easily suffocated and swallowed by a structured machine where obeying policy is the admired virtue.

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