The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road

Sep 19, 2012

Every time I go to another country, I’m amazed at how tame driving in the US actually is.  People here obey lane laws, there is a fairly strict code of right of way (even if half the drivers don’t truly understand it), and for the most part people are patient.  For those of you unbelievers, think about it this way: even though most of us roll through stops signs, if there is a 4 way stop, we’ll wait our turn.  Compare this to driving in other countries, whether in Thailand, India, Mexico, ah hell, let’s throw Rome in there for kicks.  Compared to the good ‘ol US of A, it’s utter mayhem out there.

Take for example the simple act of staying in your own lane.  In many countries, if you have 2 motorcycles or scooters hanging about, they are going to squeeze into the tightest spot possible.  There is a good chance they are not going to stop at signs and lights, but just roll through if there is any opportunity at all.  What ends up happening is the minor road anarchy that occurs means everyone is on the lookout, weaving, and dodging everyone else.

I’m absolutely convinced that a disciplined approach to driving actually yields not only more speed, but also less effort and increases in safety.  If you stay in your lane, perhaps you can’t squeeze 50 motor vehicles into a space the size of a dime, but you can be far less worried about what is going on around you.  Therefore, the elimination of risking killing those around you means significantly less stress (effort), far fewer accidents that will cause a full stoppage, and of course, the overall speed of the road increases from 30 miles per hour to 60.

The same goes for business process (y’all knew this as coming).  Mayhem causes stress, more risk for full stoppages, and actually slows things down.  Many of you will react with, “But we don’t have mayhem in our organization, we’re just not as disciplined.”  I’m here to deliver the bad news – that’s mayhem folks.

My first ever manager after college used to tell me the same 2 things over and over again:

  1. There is right and there is wrong, and there is a lot less grey than we thing there is.
  2. If it’s really right, it’s actually right 100% of the time without deviations.  Stick to your guns.

Ok, I might not be as sold on the idea that there is very little grey, but I certainly think we make exceptions far too often.  We allow our business partners to sway our processes, to have one-off reports, to feel like we have to be at their full service, beck and call.  We forget that the COE half seriously states that people are the most important asset in the organization.  We allow for “The Business” to make us feel that maximizing our processes around people and talent will get us that one huge sale.  But we forget that enforcing the discipline of our HR practices will yield larger long term results than just that one sale.

Mayhem is bad.  It one of those truths that is fundamental to our universe unless you are a physicist (when chaos is a cool thing).  But being disciplined is hard – to do what we know to be right, not deviate, and grow our HR practices takes true leadership and purpose.

 

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