Right Standards for the Right Reasons

I was out for a walk the other day and I came across a scooter on the sidewalk. It was a rental scooter that a user can access via a smartphone app, ride around town, and then leave behind for someone else to rent.

The last renter had finished using the scooter and decided to put it in the middle of the sidewalk. It covered the entire path from side to side. My options were to step over it, walk around it in the grass, or move it out of the way. I elected for the last choice, picked it up, and placed it to the side of the walkway.

As I was moving the scooter, I saw a sticker on it that read, “No Riding on Sidewalks.”

I don’t know how the scooter got there. Perhaps the renter followed the letter of the law. They didn’t ride the scooter on the sidewalk; they just left it there. I can imagine that whoever put the sticker on the scooter didn’t want it either operated or abandoned on the sidewalk as both are safety hazards.

Organizations are full of standards, procedures, policies, or rules – whatever you want to call them. We want people to follow them AND we want them to do so for the right reasons. We can all agree that it is essential to follow standards, but it’s often equally important to follow them in the right way for the right reasons. One is called following the letter of the law. The other is referred to as following the spirit of the law.

This week, we have created a tool called the 6Rs Flowchart and a video to help you put the tool into use. I encourage you to watch the video with your team, pick an existing standard, complete the flowchart together, and make a sound, informed decision about how to proceed.

The flowchart will help you to decide whether to:

  1. Remove. Standard is no longer needed – get rid of it.
  2. Retrain. People lack the skills needed to follow the standard – invest in them.
  3. Release. Someone has been trained but refuses to follow the standard – let them go.
  4. Recognize. People are following the standard – acknowledge their efforts.
  5. Remind. They are following the letter of the law but missing the spirit of it – communicate how the standard contributes to a higher purpose.
  6. Reward. Someone is following the standard for all the right reasons – ensure they understand that you appreciate their contribution

This week’s podcast episode goes hand-in-hand with the idea of improving processes, growing capabilities, and building a better organization. My guest is an executive coach and bestselling author Alisa Cohn. Her recent book, From Start-Up to Grown-Up, gives readers the knowledge and experience that she has gained from helping companies such as Etsy, Foursquare, InVision, and The Wirecutter become headline names. Alisa teaches that the growth of your company begins with growth within you. This is a great discussion for entrepreneurs and those looking to build a more entrepreneurial spirit in their organization.