ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rules, rules and more rules

I don’t mean to get political, but it seems to me we make too many rules, have too many regulations, and too much unnecessary red tape – almost everywhere.  Let me give you some recent examples that have nothing to do with politics per se.
·       I sit on a board of 7 members.  Our leadership insists the secretary take an oral role call at meetings.  She can see us and we can see each other.  When I suggested it was not necessary in so small a group, I was shot down.  We also need to formally vote on unimportant items instead of just having a consensus.
·       One of the organizations I belong to is holding its annual auction fundraiser. There are so many rules all starting with “this is the way we do it because this is the way we have always done it”.   We are a group of about 35 people.  We all know each other.  Yet, there is a rule that items cannot be counted in the tally until they are in the hands of the assigned committee member.  This means that when you say you have something in your hand and will bring it to the next meeting, you are told it will not go into the tally because it’s not physically there yet.  When I asked about trust, I was told that sometime in the distant past, someone said they had something, but didn’t.  So we are all distrusted – a rule is made because of one irresponsible person.
When I streamline systems for my larger clients (big companies – government agencies) I often find that a rule has been made – which often winds up costing more than it is attempting to save – because once someone fraudulently took advantage of their position and stole something, or spent something they shouldn’t have spent.  In other words, make a whole procedure costing lots of money to prevent the loss of some pennies.
Watching “Blue Bloods” on TV Friday night reminded me of all the “zero tolerance” rules in schools.  Do you remember:
·       A kindergarten boy was suspended because he kissed a little girl on the cheek – this was considered sexual harassment (yes, I don’t make these things up!)
·       A young boy was suspended – or expelled (I don’t remember which) because he accidently took his mother’s lunch bag instead of his own and she had an apple and paring knife in her bag.  The fact that the mother immediately recognized the accident and called the school to tell them the details didn’t change their decision.  Off with his head (said the Witch in Alice in Wonderland.)
Have we become so intolerant we can’t handle accidents?  “Oops, it was an accident, sorry – won’t do it again.”  If said genuinely, why isn’t that enough?
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.  It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.
Mahatma Gandhi
Have we become so fearful of the crooks that we spend thousands of dollars and countless unnecessary time plugging up the imaginary holes?  OK – I am not suggesting we throw caution to the winds.  I am perfectly content with all those cameras – they found the bombers, didn’t they?
I love streamlining systems for my clients – I work with them – not at them – and together we find ways to make things far more effective and efficient without losing any safety or security.  Oftentimes the K.I.S.S. method works best.

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