Mindless Rules Make Me Mental

Last weekend I was sitting on the sidelines as I watched my six-year old daughter play soccer. This is the “U7” league (under 7) and I affectionately refer to it as “swarmball.” Where the ball goes, the girls swarm. It’s fun, the girls love it, and it really isn’t about winning, it’s just about having fun.

I was sitting on the sidelines where (I was soon to learn) only the coaches and teams are allowed to sit. (I thought the reason no other parents were sitting there was because it was the side furthest from the parking lot!) Eventually a couple other parents joined us on that side. Near the middle of the first quarter, the other team’s coach said to my daughter’s coach, “You know, only teams and coaches are supposed to sit on this side.” So our coach dutifully asked us to move to the other side of the field.

As I picked up my chair and walked to the other side of the field, I thought to myself: “What’s the point of that rule? Why is it important to have parents on only one side of the field?”

And then another thought immediately struck me: Who cares? Who cares WHY the rule exists? There’s no reason to enforce it, since as far as I could tell, I and the few other parents who had gathered there after me were causing exactly NO problems.

Which brings me to my point: mindless rules make me mental. And perhaps worse: mindless enforcement of mindless rules make me mental. I’m sure somewhere along the way, someone determined that it was better for all involved if the parents sat on one side and the team on the other. But c’mon, just because the rule exists,  does it need to be enforced?

Look around your organization. Every organization has rules. And often these rules were developed in reaction to some “problem” or “issue” that arose many moons ago. Does your organization have rules that are outdated or simply serve no real purpose? And worse yet, do you continue to enforce those rules just because “That’s the way we’ve always done it?”

Whether it’s managing your data or managing your people, you’ve got to think about the ramifications of every rule you implement. Are you following (and enforcing) rules that no longer serve their purpose? I bet you can find at least one. I’d like to hear what they are.

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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