Playing the ‘get out of jail free’ card

Aug 12, 2010

Nothing traps a fast-growing business in Whitewater for longer than people playing the ‘get out of jail free’ card.This happens when individuals (usually people who have grown with the business through Fun and who yearn for simpler times when they had all the autonomy in the world) bristle at management’s attempts to bring consistency and order to the previously nimble and ultra-flexible business.

Frustrated by the increasing insistence on adherence to systems and processes, these individuals find a ‘higher need’ that seemingly trumps all else, and use it to negotiate personal exemption from having to attend meetings, complete paperwork, follow accepted procedure, or do whatever else causes them personal pain.

Here are some examples of ‘get out of jail free’ cards played by people in various functional areas as reasons to be exempted from standard operating procedures:

Sales: Customer ’emergencies’. A large prospective sale (however unlikely).

Marketing: The need for creative freedom. Campaign deadlines.
Warehouse: Shipping deadlines. Customer ’emergencies’.
IT: Network down time. The CEO’s broken laptop.
Finance: The audit. The monthly close-off of accounts.
The CEO: Anything and everything.

In the spirit of good blog posting, I was going to add a couple of pointers as to how to deal with this, but instead, let me ask the question:

How would (or do) you deal with the ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card?