When faced with a problem, do you add more rules? Do you manage to the lowest common denominator? Do you make it harder for the best and easier for the worst?
“If you want to link short-term with long-term, do not increase cognitive load. People develop lists of to-dos. They increase monitoring, they increase approvals, they increase reviews. All of these things increase cognitive load and erode will power. If you erode will power, accountability diminishes. Because excellence is, people doing the right thing even when nobody is looking over their shoulder. The best practice in scaling up excellence is a subtraction exercise not an addition exercise.”– Huggy Rao
Don’t get me wrong. Procedures and rules are important. Rules are the easiest way to fix things.
We should not always be interested in the easiest way to fix things. Problem solving that engages people is much harder. Sometimes addressing specific behaviors with specific people, changing the environment, trying a more creative approach or establishing trust is the answer.
Rules pile up, until there is no room for anything but the rules. It chokes out the ability to grow creatively. It leaves you with only button pushers and not poets.
Make laws to outlaw murder. Don’t make laws to outlaw bubblegum.
Next time you have a problem, consider subtracting from the burden instead of building a smaller box. Achievement is not found in a tiny box. Tiny things are found in tiny boxes.