Because It’s Policy!

May 1st, 2006
[ Office Gossip ]

Seth touches on a similar topic to my recent IT battles post. The key difference being that Seth‘s example deals with company policies on how employees interface with their clients. While it’s the same issue, my post used the example of company policies for how employees interface with each other across teams and departments.

Of course I love his idea but the issue is never the idea. In truth, 99% of retail companies out there today would require a major culture shift to even consider this idea. Even that isn’t the real issue though, ideas are cheap, coming up with them is the easy part. What I’m interested in is how do you actually pull this off across a large retail organization?

This is about formalizing the process of questioning standard operating procedures. Shifting your organization from simply doing “what’s in the book” to doing what’s right for the business today. In the real world that has to be balanced with getting things done and not creating a culture where every employee shows up to work with a different idea of how things will run today. The key is building a communications network between those people and getting them comfortable with this topic. Ultimately it’s about asking them the right questions and giving them a forum to discuss it amongst themselves.

Some Links:

  • A great article on questioning SOP in the military.
  • While I haven’t experienced it first hand, Great Harvest appears to have done an outstanding job of focussing on, and creating, that communication network. They demand that each of their stores are run uniquely and then work on sharing the experiences to allow other owners to learn quickly. They view each of their stores as individually run R&D labs. Quite different from the typical franchise approach where the only decision you get to make is….actually I’m not sure there is one.
  • Book: Bread and Butter, What a Bunch of Bakers Taught Me About Business and Happiness
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  • http://5customers.com/ Michael

    Your comments on the culture aspect and changing SOP in a large organization are right on target. Even in smaller businesses, traditions establish quickly–and these can be just as tenacious as they are in large organizations.