We are all familiar with dental plaque, the buildup of bacteria that becomes a film on our teeth. Work with enough organizations, and you will easily recognize the similarities organizational policies have to plaque.
Here are a few characteristics of plaque from Wikipedia, which could almost perfectly describe the accumulation of policies in organizations:
Sure, policies do not begin like plaque. They are created with a reason, often a very good one. However, taken as a group, policies begin to act like plaque — it’s the buildup over time that, left unaddressed, causes you harm.
At CTS Service Solutions, we created a term called “rule accretion” to describe the continuous accumulation of rules and processes that frontline professionals must navigate as they try to do their jobs.
The accretion is always happening, layer after layer, degrading employee and customer experiences alike.
By removing unnecessary policies and procedures and streamlining burdensome ones, you can not only become easier to do business with but can make doing business easier on your teams.
One of the best disciplines any organizational leader can have is to regularly review the impact that policies and procedures are having both on customer experience and employee experience and to decide which “rules” are still worth having.
Policies and procedures must be evaluated both individually and holistically to truly understand their impact. Sometimes, no single procedure may seem that burdensome, but the accumulation of many procedures can be destructive.
The duplicate form may be no big deal.
The manager approval may be no big deal.
The cross-check with the warehouse may be no big deal.
But all three, applied to every transaction every day, can become a very big deal.
Like the buildup of plaque, a constant accretion of policies and procedures is the natural state of all organizations. Only a regular and vigilant effort to reduce the buildup will keep your organization healthy.
So brush your organization daily, and get your policies professionally cleaned at least twice a year.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.