Managers choice, rules or limits?

22 09 2006

I found myself in strong disagreement to this post on, Reining in the Rule Breakers.

I understand the need for policies and rules to insure employee safety. This post might be appropriate for those situations. It also might be justified when attempting to standardize jobs and activities that require no creativity or individual decision making in order to function correctly. I sense the post was geared to managers dealing with these type of positions.

This approach toward strict adherence to the “rules”, just smacks of a 1930’s factory or grade school, and is the exact opposite of what I feel a workplace in 2006 requires to remain creative, enthusiastic and productive.

I do think it’s important to define limits. Very different from rules. Limits give maximum or minimum boundaries, but do not bind individuals into procedures and don’t stifle creativity.

It is important to define goals and objectives, basic coordinated procedures and time limits. Allow the team, organization or individual to find the best path to the goal. Before you scream chaos and anarchy, understand that standard operating procedures and existing policies will normally be the jumping off point for most of the organization. Any changes that occur to those procedures will often be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Focus your energy and your people on objectives and not on blindly following the rules.

Related Links

Successful managers should be breaking the rules

What are the rules? Hopefully, none.

5 ways to promote creative thinking and idea generation

Is your boss a prison warden or party host?



3 responses

23 09 2006
Reg Adkins

You may wish to take a look at the other articles in the series. The “rules” being referred to are those of cooperation and accountability. The “rule breakers” noted here are not those who are creatively thinking outside the box, or taking initiatives. The “rule breakers” in this series are identified as those members of an organization who now and again need the nudge of the shepard to perform at their best.

23 09 2006
Lee Iwan


I fear my comments on your piece were betrayed by my failure to read your previous articles.

However, isn’t that also an interesting dilema for leaders….reacting and making decisions based on partial information or lack of understanding of the history and development of the present situation.

Alternative definitions and semantics can also cast misunderstanding and misinterpretation into a team situation.

25 09 2006

I think it depend on what level of management you’re talking about. A lot of people who call themselves managers are merely supervisors. Rules are often the correct thing for them.

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