Rules for intelligent disobedience

Bob McGannon introduces some rules for breaking the rules when talking about intelligent disobedience which I found to be useful in general even without considering the notion of intelligent disobedience. He suggested some really quick considerations:

  1. Do it as an exception: only when the standard rules don’t work.
  2. Don’t do it in stealth: Convey your intention and explain the reasons you’re breaking the rules.
  3. Not to be passive aggressive: you don’t play nice and say you’re going to follow the rules and then leave your boss’ room and then break them.
  4. Don’t break the law: if a rule is based on a law, you need to make sure that you’re not acting in a manner that breaks the law.

Why putting these ideas upfront is important for management and also within the context of any organisation is that you want people to be acting intelligently and have a clear robust process for exceptions. It doesn’t mean you create extra bureaucracy; if anything, it is to allow people to act wisely and be allowed to face the music later if they agreed it is a mistake.

Within an organisation, by introducing these ideas, you empower employees and treat them maturely as individuals rather than a cog in the system. In practically all areas of life, when we need people to be more autonomous, we naturally will end up hiring the best people.