Part 1. This is a rule! Is this a rule?
The rules are the description of HOW to do SOMETHING. Irrespective of the context.
Rules exist in all areas of our life. And we know that in most cases we follow the most critical ones: do not stand under crane loads, do not cross the road when the light is red, do not eat toadstool…
In several professions strict compliance with the rules and instructions can protect your life and life or other people.
There are corporate rules of work. Correct, regulated and up-to-date.
Or strict, inefficient and obsolete. These are the rules we are going to speak about. Can they be changed?
Such rules can be easily grouped:
- “They cannot function in another way” – the rules are written for groups of employees who have other skills;
- “We always acted in this way” – the rules were introduced long ago but were not adapted to the changes of the technologies and legislation;
- “We are comfortable” – every department has its own rules and does not care about the efficiency of the company as a whole.
Situation No 1
“They will not be able to do this” — stereotypes relating to the employees.
Standard rule: Have you seen our freight handlers, drivers, warehouse workers (underline as appropriate)? They are uneducated and cannot work with mobile apps, barcode readers, GPS, etc. So we are not in a hurry to introduce them.
Though these employees (with rare exception) have modern cell phones and Internet access, and they know how to use them. But at work they suddenly “forget” their skills relating to work with gadgets.
Fears of the top management, who think that it is difficult to use gadgets in the work process, significantly influence the enterprise’s automation. And, as a result, work efficiency.
In this case there is only one way-out: to introduce, to “upgrade” level of the existing employees and to make new requirements for the new employees.
Situation No 2
“We always acted in this way”. Changes of the rules cause objection: “we have to break everything”.
The most widespread example is introduction of the internal electronic document flow. A lot of decisions depend on the top management, and employees are waiting for the decision, approved by the boss’s signature on the memo, application, etc.
Introduction of the electronic document flow cuts the approval time. But at the same time cancels out the role of the signature on the paper document and “importance” of the paper document itself. It is almost impossible to change this stereotype in the company, where top management is not very innovative. The paper document flow is a part of the corporate culture. Arguments “Why not?” prevail.
In this case there is a simple way out – to introduce novelties in one area, to show them to the top management and let them try.
The same situation is with introduction of the electronic work flow with the contractors. It is a bit easier to persuade them, because sometimes the contracts with the main clients are at stake.
Situation No 3
“We are comfortable”. It is a standard rule in the companies, where work procedures are not described and processes are not automated. Each department invents its own rules, standards and document templates.
“I have a table, where I check data from the table of the colleague from the Purchase Department. I give this table to the Personnel Department. And they manually transfer data to their tables.” Does it sound familiar? It is convenient for a certain user when performing a certain task.
It is clear that changes are necessary here. You need desire of the top manager to optimize the work and skilled business analyst capable of looking at the process as a whole and collect all its parts from different departments.
But even well-established rules have their exceptions. And legalization of system exceptions is a fascinating business quest.
How to make rules out of exceptions? Is it possible?
Violation of the company’s rules is a very widespread phenomenon, which is usually not controlled and punished for. Until the time when violation becomes very obvious and starts influencing the other processes.
The most interesting things start here. The first reaction of the management is to “punish” the violator. But if the rules are violated systematically, they must be changed. Though the companies do not often intend to do this. It is clear why.
Situation No 4
“It must be done immediately. This will not repeat in future.”
These “immediately, important” become a habit. And the situation, which used to be force majeure, becomes standard. There is an oral agreement between the departments to perform the task as agreed. Convenient? Sure. In case of failure it is impossible to find a person at fault, you can always find somebody else to blame.
Situation No 5
“No good deed goes unpunished”.
Lack of desire to initiate legalization of exceptions is explained by the employees in the following way: it is additional work relating to description, approval and introduction of the new rules. And nobody cancels the main work. Also the initiators bear all the responsibility for success of the introduced changes. That is why, if there is no need or desire of the top management, exceptions remain exceptions.
Situation No 6 (widespread at our projects)
“We have so many ideas, help us to promote them”.
This situation is beneficial for the advisor, but sad for the company. Almost always there are employees who understand which processes are inefficient. But the top managers do not hear them and do not give a green light to the changes.
Sometimes it happens since the offers do not seem significant for them. “A prophet is not recognized in his own land”.
Quite often they understand that one change will entail the next one, and then one more. And this is time, resources, elusiveness of the success. But the moment comes and magic begins…
Magic of changes. Magic of overcoming of obstacles relating to perception of the new rules, desire to follow them and change yourself with a view of new rules.