Did you ever notice when you travel to a new place, there are local traffic rules that everyone but you seems to know? These rules are not written down, but you tend to learn them as you drive.
You can clearly see the stop sign, but everyone is just driving through without the slightest pause. You hear blaring horns or interesting gestures when you apply the break.
Organizations seem to have these local rules.
An unwritten code that everyone obeys.
Navigating or even learning about these local rules can be a challenge.
These local rules seem to be contrary to stated practices, or are sometimes just plain weird.
We encourage people to be flexible with their schedule. But don’t come in after the boss or leave before they leave for the day.
Fridays are dress-down days. But not really if you want to be promoted or taken seriously.
We encourage new fresh ideas. But don’t do anything risky that may fail.
But recently I learned about a local rule that is clearly my favorite: The No Red Rule.
Yes, The No Red Rule.
In reports, financial statements, and presentations there is The No Red Rule.
The No Red Rule isn’t printed anywhere, but it seems to originate from a senior leader.
People discover The No Red Rule when creating reports or presentations when someone else reviews and tells them.
“You know about The No Red Rule right?”
“The No Red Rule. Whatever you do, don’t use any red in this presentation.”
“Are you kidding? How am I supposed to show his without red?”
“I don’t know, try green, or maybe blue, purple may not be great because it contains red…”
As I reflect on The No Red Rule, I cannot help but wonder about the origin. Maybe the color red has some negative stigma. Maybe the color red seems too angry. Maybe the color red…
Whatever the reason, it is more fascinating to think about the amount of time, energy, and lost productivity The No Red Rule local rule seems to cause.
The No Red Rule creates uncertainty and fear.
The No Red Rule creates revisions and reviews.
The No Red Rule feels arbitrary and needless.
What local rules does your organization have?
Where are you not allowed to use red, try new things, develop new ideas, or be flexible?
The real problem with local rules is that you don’t really know they are there until you violate them.
If you do have a local rule like The No Red Rule (and it is important) make it official and explain the rule. In the absence of the explanation, we are left with uncertainty.
(Image Courtesy of Imagekind)
We either build or inherit organizations. Either we started it from scratch, or we came into the organization once formed.
The organization is intended to move forward, presumably in an efficient, smooth, and relatively safe way: Like a Canoe. (Work with me here.)
You want your Canoe (organization) to get to the destination with ease of effort and maybe even enjoyment along the way.
You are trying to paddle your Canoe forward.
You are probably good at watching for rocks outside of your Canoe.
But there is a problem.
There is resistance.
Things are sluggish.
Instead of focusing outside, you look inside.
There are Rocks in the Canoe.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are employees who are not buying into the change of direction, strategy, or approach.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are rules and procedures that are working against your customers.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are having the wrong people doing the wrong jobs.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are distractions and procrastinations that move us away from our goals.
You didn’t notice it at first. Slowly those Rocks in the Canoe began to add up.
Maybe you have been spending so much time focusing on avoiding the rocks in the river, that you failed to notice the Rocks in the Canoe.
Your Canoe is heavy and weighed down.
Your Canoe is slow and sluggish.
Your Canoe is hovering dangerously close to the waterline.
Can you see the Rocks in the Canoe now?
The Rocks in the Canoe didn’t get there all at once. Some rocks started as pebbles, and seemed to grow over time. Some rocks were there when you first got into your Canoe, and you may not have noticed.
The Rocks in the Canoe need to go.
But, your Canoe may not respond well to quick motion and disruption.
Your Canoe may be a little wobbly.
It is important to keep your balance and not overturn or sink while removing the Rocks in the Canoe.
If you stand up and immediately start throwing rocks, you may tip over or crash.
Maybe we can learn from how the Rocks in the Canoe got there in the first place.
The rocks didn’t show up all at once, and our job is the methodically remove the Rocks in the Canoe.
Imagine what your Canoe could do if it wasn’t so weighed down.
P.S. Don’t be afraid of your competition picking up your rocks. If they want to put your rocks in their Canoe, let them. As you are moving quickly forward, they may be slowing down and not even realizing the cause.
“They have a new building, a new workplace, but there is resistance, and I do not understand why they are not embracing the change.”
In other words, “hey we invested in a new building, a new space, and they should be happy!”
There was more than a building change.
A lot changed.
We talk more about the new building, the new workplace.
We learn that there were other changes.
They used to work together, now they are alone.
They used to have space to connect as a team, now there is isolation.
They used to be comfortable and a little distant from the direct issues, now they are directly in the middle of the problem.
All this change may be a better way.
All this change may be beneficial for the job.
All this change may workout in the long-term.
Now we can understand the resistance.
Now we can understand the disruption the new building caused.
Now we can understand the loss of connection with the team.
There is a great quote about change.
“Change is a form of loss.
You need to let people grieve it.”
The resistance is grieving a loss.
The resistance is trying to adjust to the loss of team.
The resistance is getting used to working alone.
We need to understand that the change (even if that change is ultimately good) can also create a loss.
We may need to be patient while they grieve.
We may need to understand and recognize the resistance.
We may need to provide support in the process.
We will need to explain why this change is important, and acknowledge the loss.
We may need to explain it again.
We may need to provide more support than we imagined.
We may have caused other issues that we didn’t intend.
Change: It is much harder to manage than we may have guessed.
We have already talked about being wired for problems. We all have different styles, and some behavioral styles have this uncanny ability to scan the environment for problems.
At first this sounds negative.
Always pointing out what is wrong.
But there is a flip side to having a style or mind that is wired to discover problems.
That same mind or style is also wired for solutions.
The more I work with people about their style, the more they need to see these two sides.
Not everything about our style is positive.
Sometimes we don’t always like everything about our style.
But our styles have two sides.
You may be more prone to follow the rules, and that same style promotes excellence and accuracy.
You may be prone to be talkative and social, and that same style can move people to believe, and hope, and dream.
You may be prone to be a little scattered or distracted, and that same style breaks out of the status quo and moves organizations forward through change.
You may be prone to focus on the task or the process, and that same style will build organizations that can scale.
Knowing who you are, and your style is the first step. If you haven’t taken one of these assessments, contact me and let’s find how you are wired, and how you can make the most impact in your world, your business, and your journey.
Winter here has been weird.
In a week and a half, the temps have varied from 65 to 8.
Running has been a challenge.
Some days are cold, some are warm.
My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.
Luckily I am part of a Tribe.
The Running Tribe.
The Running Tribe spends time together.
The Running Tribe encourages each other.
The Running Tribe is a little weird.
The Running Tribe laughs together, especially while waiting around for the start of strange races that get us outside despite the weather.
Life can be weird.
In a week and a half, I can go from confident to insecure, happy to sad, encouraged to frustrated.
Leading can be a challenge.
Parenting can be a challenge.
Partnering can be a challenge.
Friendships can be a challenge.
Some days are cold, some are warm.
My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.
We need more Tribes.
Tribes for each challenge.
A Leadership Tribe.
A Parenting Tribe.
A Partnering Tribe.
A Friendship Tribe.
Find the Tribes.
Create the Tribes.
Join the Tribes.
Join My Tribes.
Let’s try doing these things together.
Creating and running a business is not easy work.
You have competing demands of your time, attention, and energy.
Success increases that competition.
Success increases the demands.
You start to grow.
You start to expand.
Things start to break.
The old ways are not enough.
Processes are created and updated.
Processes start to build the right foundation: forms, agreements, and structure.
Processes are designed to make things more uniform, more streamlined.
Processes are meant to free up time and energy.
You need increased capacity.
You start to discover and learn your own style, skills, and “highest and best use.”
You are good at some things.
You are not so good at other things.
You may need to give some things away to others.
The Customer likes what you have to offer.
The Customer still remembers when they took the risk on you.
The Customer likes how they used to connect with you.
The Customer wants to continue without a lot of disruptive change.
Balancing Processes, You and the Customer can be a challenge.
Some Processes can upset the Customer.
You may resist the Processes because it feels confining.
The Processes may put a little distance between You and the Customer.
The Customer may always want to speak directly to You.
Building and scaling a business is not easy.
Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on just one of the areas.
When we focus only on Processes – we unleash rules, policies, and procedures that can choke off flexibility and creativity.
When we focus only on You – we can get lost in self-reflection, doubt, and self-criticism.
When we focus only on the Customer – we suffer, compromise, and become spread too thin.
Balancing Processes, You and the Customer is even harder when you grow.
What Processes do You really need? Which make our jobs easier with the least impact to the Customer, and the largest return on time/energy for You?
Where should You be spending the bulk of your time?
What does the Customer really want from You and any Processes?
As you scale, remember to ask questions and regularly spend time thinking about all three.