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This is a follow up to my prior post: Remember that Time.

Personal story: I once received a call from a hotel guest that had stayed with us the prior weekend. He was upset that, at 65 years old (and a loyal guest), he had to sign a (no)party policy. At first, I found myself defensive. How dare he try to tell me how to run my business? He doesn’t know what trouble we face. He doesn’t know how many parties we have had.

As I continued to listen, I evaluated what he was saying. He was absolutely right. I wish I remembered the guest who called me. I owe him a follow up thank you.
Walk into almost any hotel and ask them to see their party policy. The vigilant front desk person may be proud to present a legal size sheet of 24 reasons to kick you out of the hotel. Some hotels use it on youth sports group weekends. Some use it on prom weekends. Some use it every weekend. Some use it every day.

Each rule came from one or a small group that did something undesirable.

Even with this “iron clad” sheet of paper, people still don’t do everything we want them to do. Can you believe it?

Why have one at all? If someone is disturbing the peace, we can refuse service to them anyway. If someone is doing something illegal, we can remove them.

Review any employee handbook. There are usually about twice the number of reasons to write up, suspend, terminate an employee. 20 or so are listed on one page, and then the other 20+ are buried in individual policies. It’s almost comical when we might trust them with people’s lives and keys to a $20 million building but $25 short in the drawer, and the world comes crashing down.

If one were to review virtually any law, policy, procedure, they might find that it is usually created by “remember that time“. It is usually created as a CYA (Cover Your Ass) that someone did to make someone else feel better (constituent, boss, shareholder, investor, lawyer, stakeholder). It usually doesn’t prevent the same action from repeating. It just gives us something to point at and say “we told you so”.

What if we had one single policy: Do the right thing. Can we imagine a world where we have trust in people to this degree? Can we imagine a world, where, if they weren’t “doing the right thing” that we would actually have to talk to them? Yes, the lawyers would hate/love us.

This is not proposal for lawlessness and complete self management. Sure, we might need some basic guidelines of things that are non-negotiable. Most building and fire codes are “written in blood” from a tragedy. But many laws, rules, policies, and procedures are written as a knee jerk reaction to a one time occurrence. Or maybe they were written 20 years ago when the environment was different.

No company or person ever became great through policies or procedures. What if we threw the policies in the trunk and let the culture drive the car to our destination? There would be more room for fun and creativity in the cabin.

Have the courage not to alienate your customer (or employee). Have the courage not to create a policy after that time something went wrong. Have the courage to review every policy and throw away the ones that haven’t been needed in the past 12 months.

Have a story about a stupid policy? Please share it in the comments below.
A real policy from oldfishermansgrotto.com