Rules aren’t created for those who will comply
I already wrote about our non-traditional organizational structure and the increasing reliance on communities the organize our teams. I recently had an interesting conversation about the use of rules within communities and within the overall organization.
The conversation went something like this.
- Dan – “We already use self-organized teams and increasingly rely on communities to get our goals done. Why do we need to add formal rules? Isn’t this against our approach of trusting people?”
- Me – “Implementing rules doesn’t mean we don’t trust people. The rules are simply there to help everyone understand which behaviors are acceptable so our community can work efficiently.”
- Dan – “This goes against self-organized teams. If the teams want to work without rules, they should be allowed to.”
- Me – “Yes, but only up to a certain point. Without rules you will quickly get chaos and anarchy. I believe rules should disappear over time but they are initially required to help regulate the actions of the group.”
- Dan – “I believe we shouldn’t have any rules. If I want to do something, I don’t want any stupid rules to prevent me from doing it…”
- Me [light bulb goes on in my head] – I wonder if people oppose rules because they may (want to) break them…
This question quickly lead me to the debate around the proposed legislation to reduce the blood-alcohol level from 80 to 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. A similar public debate was launched when Quebec decided to experiment with photo radar a few months ago. In both cases, it seemed to me that the arguments often used to oppose such rules are that they go against people’s freedom. Although the rules make sense, you will find many people who will oppose the rules pretending they interfere with their freedom of choice and action.
It appears to me that the people who oppose rules may eventually break them and as such, anticipate being caught. Keep in mind that rules are very rarely opposed by those who will comply with them.