Policy… A Terrible Substitute for Leadership
Stephanie approached her manager’s office ready to share her ingenious idea that would substantially reduce the amount of time for project approval. After some analysis she realized that project approvals averaged 4 days to obtain the necessary approvals from various departments. This meant a 4 day waiting period for every client once the decision to move forward was made. The frustration this caused for the project managers and the business development team was a constant source of headache. Not to mention the clients they had lost because of the slow approval time. Luckily, Stephanie had figured out a way to cut the approval time down to a single day and with some additional changes they could probably get it down to mere hours. She stood at the threshold of her manager’s office and took a deep breath before she entered.
“Great news!” she said. “I found a way to cut days off our project approval process. This means quicker start times and potentially more business.”
Stephanie laid out her idea to digitize the arduous process for getting every departmental manager’s approval. She even included contingencies for when certain people were out of the office. It was a great plan and it would save the company time, effort, and money.
Shaking his head the manager responded “Absolutely not. The policy is to have every departmental manager sign off on the project by hand. It’s important to make sure they all agree to what the project will require from their department. It may seem inefficient to you, but it’s our policy.”
“Why can’t we just change the process since it would be so much quicker?” Stephanie asked.
“Because it’s our policy. We can’t just go changing policies because it suits our needs. Thanks for the input, but I think we’ll just stick with the current process.” The manager ended the conversation.
He was hiding behind policy because it was the easy, safe thing to do. This sort of thinking is counter productive and snuffs out great ideas.
Why would a manager be so dismissive? Because maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat is a great way to keep your middle-management job… but it’s a terrible way to grow a business.
Everyone has policies. You have policies, your organization has policies, even your clients have policies. At what stage does policy hinder critical thinking and prevent innovations in the workplace?
Step changes in business don’t happen when people are maintaining. Huge radical improvements only happen when people are allowed to approach challenges with an open mind. The best leaders are the ones that welcome change and encourage people to question existing policies.
Only those willing to evolve and adapt will be able to keep up with the constantly changing business landscape. Don’t let policy hold you or your organization back from you potential.