2 years ago
A little while ago, I was talking to a relative who's a retired senior fire officer in the Isle of Man, and he told me quite an interesting story...
One day, he was out on routine fire inspection duties with his team. They walked into a branch of one of the major high street banks, asked to see the manager, and announced the purpose of their visit.
The manager appeared from his office, and eyed them up and down suspiciously. "How do I know you're who you say you are?" he said.
As you might imagine, my friend considered this to be a somewhat strange question to ask of five men dressed in full fire fighting gear, but he fully understood the need for caution and decided to humour the manager.
He led him to the window and pointed outside, where a shiny red fire engine was parked at the roadside. "There," he said. "£75,000 worth of state of the art fire fighting equipment."
"Hmm", murmured the manager,
"Have you got a card or something with your picture on it?"
See, we all do things on autopilot - without thinking. It's how we get through the day. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to follow standard procedures, rules and regulations.
What would you consider to be the most convincing form of ID? A laminated card that any self respecting crook could have forged within the hour, or five tons of fire engine? It seems obvious, doesn't it?
And yet the bank manager's 'autopilot' procedure
was to insist on an ID card.
He probably didn't consciously think about the reason why he should ask for an ID card. As you know, banks need to establish identity as quickly and as certainly as possible before divulging account details. Instead, he just made the cerebral leap from Visitor to ID, without asking himself the question... 'Why?'
Now I know you might laugh and think that you wouldn't be so inflexible or unthinking, and maybe you wouldn't. But at the same time I'm sure that there are rules, regulations, procedures and ways of doing things in your job or business which you are currently following - rules which are no longer appropriate due to changed circumstances.
Whatever business or profession you're in, I guarantee you'll be following procedures laid down by others before you. You will be doing things using the methods established by your predecessors. And I'd wager that you've probably given little or no thought to - or even have no knowledge of - the thought processes that went into creating these procedures in the first place.
I know that in my business, I frequently find procedures being carried out long after there is a need for them. Maybe it’s the way we are taught. Or is it simply because nobody has really given any thought as to why the procedure is being carried out the way it is.
And that's in a relatively 'young' business, where all the procedures have been put in place by the people still working here.
Imagine this scenario taking place in an older organisation then - where many people have come and gone over the years. In these places, the methods, rules and procedures have long since become divorced from the reasons underlying them.
Nobody knows why any more - it's just the way things are done!
So my suggestion to you today is to question all the rules, procedures and methods that you're currently using in the important areas of your life...
* Who created them?
* What was the thinking behind them?
* Are they still relevant today?
* Has anything happened over time to make this rule or procedure obsolete?
* What do you think would happen if you broke the rule, changed the procedure, or didn't carry out the procedure at all?
* Are you doing things this way because 'they've always been done like this - or do you have a better reason?
When you start to examine everything that you do, and why you do it, I think you'll be amazed by what you find. I know I was. And now, I always try to work smarter with regard to rules rather than harder.
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