Now as many of you know, I have lived in the Midwest all of my life. Well, some would say “central states” or “plains”. Raised in central/southern Illinois, then onto Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota and then back to Kansas. This is a beautiful region of the United States even though many think of it as “fly over” country. One of my favorites is the state of Missouri. The hills, trees, and lakes are amazing. The Ozark Mountains are gorgeous. There is just something peaceful about driving those windy little backroads in Missouri in the Fall.
If you have ever been to Missouri and driven those windy, hilly, tree covered blacktop backroads, while you were enjoying God’s beauty, you also might have had a near miss on a curve or two with oncoming vehicles. It is easy to have happen. One second all is fine, the next, you are in a curve a little tight to the middle and a car whips around the curve going the other direction and nearly peels the paint off your car it was so close. It’s like driving the Road to Hana without the one lane bridges to slow down traffic. So you slow down. Sometimes, you slow way down, almost to a halt until you can see around the curve.
However, over the years more and more painted center lines have been added to those windy little country roads. It is amazing what a simple guideline can do to increase your speed, flow and productivity. Just knowing there is a line there to keep you and others in their lane allows everyone to move much faster. Those little lines make the entire trip much more enjoyable and certainly safer.
That brings me to today’s topic of “guidelines”. Most of us small business operators don’t really like to be constrained by too many rules and regulations. We claim they tend to slow us down, get in our way. So inside our own businesses, we will avoid at all costs creating stringent policies that encourage bureaucracy.
Let’s try to apply that thinking on our small businesses. Instead of either not having rules at all, or even worse, writing massively detailed rules and regulations that bog down a business, let’s try to create the minimum necessary “guidelines” that free up the organization to increase speed, flow and productivity. Like the center lines on a winding country road.
Next time you are writing a War and Peace version of a vacation, bring your own device (BYOD), or work hours policy, think about those peaceful country roads and make it a simple fast guideline instead. Your organization will speed up and thank you for it too.
Photo credit to Filip Mroz