A great example of managing to the rule

I’ve written often about “managing to the exception,” the idea that all of our business rules have to apply to every case (i.e., the exceptional cases), instead of just the most common types of cases.

One of my favorite examples of managing to the rule rather than the exception is the Dulles Greenway toll booth plaza. Like every other toll booth, the Greenway toll booths have little wooden gates that are down until you pay your toll. Toll paid, gate raises, drive thru, gate closes for the next driver.


During rush hour, the gates are in a permanent UP position, so that precious time is saved as each car pays and rolls through. Now, does EVERY car pay? Probably not. But the cars that are NOT paying are the exception, not the rule. And the toll road authorities have determined that it’s better to keep traffic flowing and allow a few non-payers through than to stop EVERY car as it rolls through. That’s a great example of managing to the rule.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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