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Does your organisation need a Highway Code?

It’s always good when practice matches theory. Over my last few years at work I have been acutely aware just how badly some business processes can affect productivity and morale. We often hear about red tape imposed on businesses by government, but it seems to me that businesses have a great aptitude for tying their own employees in knots through self- imposed red tape. I’ve seen people in various types of organisations struggling to do a good job despite rules and processes imposed on them from “on high” which make no sense.

At a recent Centre for Business Performance round table discussion I was struck by one of the themes running through the presentations. Dr Steve Morlidge spoke about budgeting – Beyond Budgeting in fact.   When he asked us to outline what happens in the traditional budgeting process it quickly became apparent just how flawed the system can be. We impose artificial time scales, people play games to get what they want, situations change but adjustments are difficult owing to the straitjacket of the budget…

The second speaker, Tim Banfield spoke from a public sector perspective about project management – and the same message came out. Important though some processes are, you can’t rely on them.  You also need judgement, good relationships and communication.

One image from the discussion will stay with me and that is a picture of the Highway Code. There are rules for driving, of course.  Without them there would (probably) be chaos. However, each driver takes responsibility for their actions. As drivers we know that sometimes rules have to be broken and most of us are quite capable of exercising judgement…


Pippa Bourne



One thought on “Does your organisation need a Highway Code?

  1. Pippa, This is very perceptive – and it plays right into the current series of blogs on “Why Performance Reporting is NOT Performance Management”. The actions the individual drivers take is the “Sense & Respond” / “Operational” loop and the Highway Code is the much longer “Systemic” loop. So for example when a driver is encountering a potential problem, he/she does not look up the Highway Code then and there – they have (hopefully) read it and digested it and “instinctively” know what action to take. The problem in business is that higher management can’t see this and almost always “meddle” or ” tamper” with things they should let the “drivers” get on with…..

    Posted by davidanker2014 | May 22, 2017, 6:59 am

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