This article at the New York Times today, made me think again about this blog article, why company leaders like to edit company rules in a brand book, like the Mao bible, with their principles in 2017 ?
We all knew this from Mao Tse-tung times, a small, little red book, everyone has to carry with and to learn and read the rules anytime you have free time to improve yourself and control your behavior.
Rules are important to work together in a society, yes, but in practice I am not sure how many percent of this rules will be followed by the people, because we are also human beings and sometimes strict rules can transform us into business-robots, working like machines without feelings and creativity.
Companies with own brand-books / rule-books remind me a bit to sects with believers and also this new book from Ray Dalio: Principles, which will come out in 1 week could be a kind of Mao-bible, but I am not sure yet and will update you in some weeks, when I went trough this.
Rules are there to be broken is the other side of the story. Yes there are strong leaders in 2017, their fetish is to have also the mental-control about all employees, and sometimes an internal brainwashing machinery is going on, you would not expect when you just have the outside marketing-view about successful companies. There are a lot of articles from former Apple-, Amazon-, Microsoft-, Bridgewater-, WalMart-, etc pp. employees, talking about all these things happen behind the scenes and sometimes these companies also do have internal rules-books, brand-books as described in the article above about Mr. Dalio from Bridgewater, which every team-leader will get at his / her's inauguration ceremony - 'Welcome on Board of the Leadership-Circle' !
On the other side, it needs a lot of organisation and time to execute all this rules and paragraphs by training and tests to the employees and in then you end up with this things as in IRAN, where rules are be followed in front, but behind the scenes you have parallel societies, who act in a total different way, if they are unsupervised for a moment and party harder, than in open western societies. (Don't ask me about my student-trips to IRAN between 2001 and 2006 - :-p))
Pressure and to many rules, made by one person, who thinks, he is like a wise emperor in roman times, make the creative, innovative and strong people leave your company and the week and subordinate ones will stay, waiting for the next bonus or company-car-upgrade, to compensate the mental rape and pain they have suffered.
My experience showed me, that rule books are also like CRM systems or data bases. You have it as an ideological thing, but in reality just a couple of employees will fill in all of their data, so that the systems are never up-to-date if you will not execute and punish misbehavior.
Maybe in communism systems or countries this will work, but also by talking to many friends from former communism countries, I have learned, that during this times also the total control and following of the rules did not work and people find their own creative ways to follow their on rules.
And this is, why so many people do work-to-rule, which is for me similar to a Zombie-Life, because you spend 40-50% of your daytime at work and do something you don't like, so you get more and more brain-dead by work and the carrot(bonus) is the only thing you focus on every year.
Anyway, in the end I think some tips from older, experienced business people can be a good advice for every employee and you can also learn a lot from mentor programs, but executing rules and rule-books is an old-school way, who does not fit into 2017, maybe more into 1984 and Mr. Orwell's world..
I will give you a short update article within 4 weeks, when I went trough this rule-book of principles by Ray Dalio, so stay tuned and greetings from Vienna.
PS: Yes, sometimes you have to read things, you don't like, to get an idea, what's going on around you and for knowing your enemies, who are responsible for creating brain-dead employees in a free world of 2017.
Picture Source: http://www.deaf-bw.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Mao-Bibel.jpg
Thomas Zahlten is