There is No Set of Rules That Will Get You What You Want


Original Caption: "We broke about half of these during our time in the maze."


“There is no set of rules – no matter how detailed, no matter how specific, no matter how carefully monitored and enforced – there is no set of rules that will get us what we need.”  This spoken by Barry Schwartz in a TED talk (at 4:30).  He nails it, yet again.

We can make rules upon rules, but the fact is that we will NEVER be able to create rules for every situation that arises.  And yet for some reason we try to.  This happens in government, in the legal system, in our homes and workplaces.  The child will always find a loophole, or the employee will find a situation that the rules did not anticipate.

So, what do we do?  We have to take a step back.  Those rules are to govern people.  Maybe we should have self-governed people.  No, I am not talking about creating anarchy and I’m not naive enough to think that we could create any society or business or organization without rules.  But if we are to pick those who join a company, for example, we should look for self-governed people.  Those who have “practical wisdom.”

When hiring or choosing people on a team we look so much at “can they do the job” and less on “will they do the job.”  Will they without being cajouled?  Will they because they want to, not because they are forced or incentivized to death?  Will they because they have a passion?  Will they because of who they are – the type of person that jumps in and does a great job?  Will they because they naturally want to improve upon what is already there?  Will they because they would feel horrible about wasting a companies time, so much so that their conscience would not allow it?

Rules, then become guidelines to help those who want to do well, to do well.  They become less about trying to control or catch those who want to take advantage.

There is so much more in this video.  He sums up so much of what I have been thinking lately and wraps it all in a perfect little talk.

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