Policy. It is a word some dread.
But company policies are written for a reason. They are written to keep organizations running smooth and provide clarity to employees at all levels regarding specific topics. When policies are followed, organizations use time and resources more efficiently, create transparency, and reduce waste. From a previous entry, we learned there are eight different types of wastes (DOWNTIME) and policies will undoubtedly reduce the W of waiting and E of excessive processing. Instead of juggling with an issue, policies are the resource that quickly make an open case closed.
When companies are consistent with executing policies, each individual employee knows what they can expect, waste is kept to a minimum, and value-add activities are kept at the forefront.
When existing policies are neglected, the opposite is true. Topics become drawn out, meetings are held to discuss the topic, opinions are shared, and a decision may or may not be made for days, weeks, or even months. All of this rolls up into non-value-add activities, which could be easily avoided if the existing policy was simply followed.
Unfortunately, policies sometimes receive a bad rap because they aren’t followed 100% of the time. It’s imperative to not confuse having a policy with policy enforcement. Some companies choose to avoid the black and white and operate a grey area. Imagine if your company policy was to pay employees every two weeks, but that was not always followed. If there was some grey area, you might get paid every three weeks some of the time. If the timing of your pay was negatively affected by failing to execute said policy, you wouldn’t be too happy. Why then are we okay when other policies are neglected? That, friends, can be a challenging question when it shouldn’t be. What’s policy is policy. To quote former U.S. President Harry S. Truman, “The buck stops here.” The same should hold true regarding policy.
To keep things running lean, smooth, and disturbance free, the next time you are faced with an unusual value-add challenge ask yourself if there is a current policy available to help overcome the obstacle. If there is, great! You have your answer and should execute the policy accordingly. If there is not a current policy, the second question becomes whether the customer (internal or external) is directly affected by this value-add challenge. If so, you know you need to begin working with a cross functional team to help establish a policy on this matter. This should go through the proper approval process for formal policy consideration and adoption. If the customer is not affected by your challenge, then it is not value-add related and effort should be redirected to what the customer is ultimately paying for — your product or service.