“Do we need a policy for that?” It is a question I hear often. The longer I lead, the less I am a fan of policy. 

PolicyIn his manifesto, Flip, Daniel Pink challenges my thinking with a section on policy. I challenge you to chew on a couple of sections from his work.

Pink refers to former Netflix VP of corporate communication, Steve Swasey. Pink writes . . . When asked about his opinion on policy, Swasey says the following: “Rules and policies and regulations and stipulations are innovation killers. People do their best work when they’re unencumbered. If you’re spending a lot of time accounting for the time you’re spending, that’s time you’re not innovating.”

Pink goes on to write, “In his book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, New York University scholar Clay Shirky argues that ‘when we design systems that assume bad faith from the participants, and whose main purpose is to defend against that nasty behavior, we often foster the very behavior we’re trying to deter. People will push and push the limits of the formal rules, search for every available loophole, and look for ways to game the system when the defenders aren’t watching. By contrast, a structure of rules that assumes good faith can actually encourage that behavior.’ – So if you think people in your organization are predisposed to rip you off, maybe the solution isn’t to build a tighter, more punitive set of rules. Maybe the answer is to hire new people.”

If we are not careful we can find ourselves looking for reasons to say no to our supporters – Especially if we perceive the request will require more work on our part. Perhaps some of us carry around suspicion toward a team member. Maybe a hidden desire to control behavior in the organization.

I hate to break it to you, but you will never be able to legislate behavior.

If you find yourself uptight over some rule breaker, it might be that you are the one fostering the very behavior you hate. Beginning today, why not flip your thinking and start believing the best in people?

And if you can’t?

It’s time to start looking for some new people.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

What are your thoughts about policy in an organization?

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Author: Randy

Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.