Ever notice how wherever you go there are always rules posted on what you can’t do? Think about it. Stores have no shirt, no shoes, no service. You might see no pets allowed at the beach. No smoking within 10 feet of this building. No food or drink allowed in store, etc, etc. A lot of these we don’t take serious, and a lot of them don’t really impact our everyday lives that much. I also get a lot these of for our own protection.

In business it seems like all we have is rules, and they aren’t always put in place with the best intentions. Telling people you can’t do this, and you can’t to that. Let’s not even touch the political side of the rules system where some rules apply to certain people and some rules apply to others. I get it. Part of managements job is to reduce risk and therefore we set boundaries in order to facilitate consistent performance – classic Henry Ford Specialization of Labor. The issue I have is I feel like we are setting the wrong rules, and the by-product of that is poor culture and ultimately unmet potential.

So what are the right rules to help us create a culture that allows us to exceed our potential? Simon Sinek posted a blog recently that I think helps us start to put the foundation in place on what our office rules should be like:

You Are Allowed To:

1) Make the decision you think is the right decision to make

2) Start something that needs to be started to help advance the cause

3) Ask for help whenever you want it

4) Help others whenever you can (even if they don’t ask for it)

5) Take time off to do something that inspires, excites, and energizes you

Instead of telling people what they can’t do let’s empower them. We are demanding more skills and education from our workforce everyday so why are we constantly putting a cap on that skill set and knowledge? I heard Marissa Mayer say in a lecture at Stanford a quote by Ken Wilcox “the death of America is that we will become a nation that is good at compliance, but not innovation.” When we bootstrap our workforce with rules as confusing and inconsistent as the NCAA it’s no wonder our performance becomes lackluster.