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.

The Truth About Procrastination

To all my friends at EPRZ, I am back!

I have been intending to write this article for months, ever since I published my first in June 09. But why didn’t I write it? Because I have to practise what I preach. I have to do the things that I advise my readers to do. Today’s article discusses the benefits of good procrastination and there is no better way to validate its credibility than to use myself as the test subject. Here are the facts of my research.

As children, we were told by our parents to stop procrastinating and start working on our household chores. As students, we were told by our teachers to stop procrastinating and start working on our school assignments. And they would always use this popular saying, “the early bird catches the worm”, to support their argument. Fair enough. But what happens to the early worm? Doesn’t it get eaten? The truth of the matter is that procrastination can be good or bad depending on how you use it. So the important issue is not how you should avoid procrastination but how you should use procrastination to your advantage.

There are many activities that you could be doing now. All these activities are competing for your time and attention. How do you decide which activity to begin and which to postpone? Through objective evaluation, you will have to rate each activity in importance. After that, you will have to practice the principles of good procrastination- to learn when to do the right things and to postpone the wrong things. It means choosing to avoid lesser activities in favour of greater goals. If you have just been struck by a brilliant inspiration, for example, then you should work on that new idea and postpone the thought of running an errand for your parents. Learning to prioritise is, thus, the key to good procrastination.

During my absence from ERPZ, I have completed my National Service, organised several grassroots events, and earned my driving license among many other completed tasks. I have been using procrastination to my advantage by avoiding the less important activities to do the real work. And even though I have sacrificed the cleanliness of my room, the well-being of my stomach, and of course the welfare of the readers at ERPZ, I have accomplished much by practising good procrastination.

Most people will tell you that procrastination is bad and that you should avoid it or cure it. Their ill advice is predicated on the false belief that procrastination means doing absolutely nothing. Author Paul Graham writes that “there are three types of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on a) nothing, b) something less important, c) something more important.” The last type, good procrastination, is what you should strive for.