The Policy

I have witnessed the following scenario many times in my life – sometimes it happened to me, sometimes to some colleague. It always goes like this:

1. A company wants to protect itself against loss of something very important (e. g. company reputation, money, life); some prominent people sit together and devise a strict policy for everyone to follow.

2. The policy is cumbersome, so over time, people either ignore it (at least every now and then) or clever people find loopholes and work around it.

3. Years go by; by sheer luck nothing really bad happens.

4. Someday, someone (maybe a new colleague) discovers the truth and in a rush of creativity comes up with a smart and simple solution that achieves 99% of the desired effect while at the same time keeping those who have to use it happy.

5. The idea is rejected by management on the grounds that a) the proposed solution is not perfect either and b) the original policy can’t be so bad as nothing really bad has happened so far!

6. Our once-proud hero gets frustrated.

Why is this obviously good idea rejected? Answer: for political reasons!

Even though our inventor had the best intentions, by suggesting a new approach he caused a lot of problems to many people. He indirectly claimed that:

1. There has been a big threat over years.

2. There are people in the company who haven’t followed management’s policies for years.

3. The designers of the original policy did a poor job.

4. The managers failed to see the obvious: the policy is cumbersome and hard to follow.

5. The managers failed to ensure that the policy is actually followed.

6. He is much smarter than others (i. e. his managers).

Had the new approach been accepted, management would have admitted all these “accusations”. Now it should be clear why the idea was dismissed.

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