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Take the time to question “stupid rules”

Written on Sep 1, 2022

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

An easy step for businesses to embrace simplicity is removing unnecessary rules that are slowing people down, said one CEO.   

“It's human behavior. We want to move faster,” said Lisa Bodell, CEO of FutureThink. “And so rather than stopping and really thinking through a problem, we just add on top of it.”  

Bodell said human behavior is a “big challenge” when companies seek to make their processes simpler. An example of this is when staff don’t take the time to question rules or framework, because they haven’t been encouraged to do so by leaders or are shut down when they do ask. There are rules that might have outlived their time and it would make work more efficient to have them removed.   

Questioning rules can seem scary, Bodell said, but staff at all levels should be empowered to do this. Sometimes all it takes is one person pointing out an unnecessary rule to inspire others to speak up.  

“Whether you're a small, medium, or large organization, the principles still apply,” she said. “There are things that are in your sphere of control that you can be spearheading.”  

Leaders must be an example to staff and start questioning rules or saying no to attending irrelevant meetings. She said she’s seen organizations in the past get stuck at this point, because the leaders have not changed their behavior. Once they begin to set the example, the rest of the staff feel comfortable doing the same. Removing pointless rules is an important step in the simplification process, Bodell said.  

“Some of the biggest companies can't get out of their own way,” she said. “Speed is important. And simplicity gives you that and if you're operating with complexity, you can't move fast enough.”   

Hear more from Bodell at the Fall Accounting Shows. Register here.  

Listen to the podcast with Bodell here.