I admit I’m the first one to challenge a rule. However, it’s not about a reflexive anarchic rebellion. I always challenge the sense of a rule. Rules are important – they organize our interpersonal coexistence and kick our own butts. But what is behind it?
Anarchy doesn’t work. Sooner rather than later we step on each other’s toes and physical and mental injuries occur. The freedom of the individual ends where it touches the freedom of the neighbor.
Rules grow over time and become more and more detailed. Each case of damage leads to a new sub rule, in order to create supposedly more security. The results are often complex sets of rules which require experts for interpretation. Each of us knows situations in which we simply feel overwhelmed by the complexity of excessive regulations and policies. You get the impression that you are potentially causing a rule violation in every action and quickly retreat to doing nothing. But this is not a solution for companies. In companies or even states there are then regularly initiatives to bust bureaucracy – until they proliferate again.
In contrast to the perception of some managers, discipline is extremely important in Agile working environments. The team sets rules and commits itself to follow them. The rules are regularly checked for meaningfulness and effectiveness and adapted if necessary. It is important to defer the discussion about the rules to a dedicated meeting and under no circumstances to question the process every time during the content meeting. This is also an important basic rule in itself and compliance with it is a question of discipline.
You can marvel at this, for example, in the Standups. The format of the standing meeting alone enforces discipline: being on time and getting to the point. Otherwise, the feet will quickly rebel and create the necessary pressure on the participants.
Compliance with the rules is also a good indicator of a team’s maturity. Every board member or program manager who has ever been kicked out of the room by a programmer with reference to the rules can smile. He has managed to make the employees prioritize the joint accomplishment of their task over the respect for the hierarchical position.
And perhaps you should take this self-discipline with you as a suggestion for the next board meeting.
Ideally, you don’t even have to worry about sanctions for rule violations. If everyone understands and supports the rules, compliance becomes intrinsic element of belonging to the team. In case of dissent you would have to re-discuss the rule – or leave the team.
What about you?
Do you have clear rules established?
Does everyone understand the meaning of the rules?
Do you pay attention to compliance?