Policy, Procedure and the Papacy: How Embedded are Your Systems?

So Pope Benedict XVI has, in effect, resigned and given his notice at the Vatican.

I don't know how any of you are looking at this - and at the risk of offending Catholics all over the world (for which I apologize) - I'm finding this great fun.

The reason? Because, when you're talking embedded organizational systems, there's nothing like organized religion as an example of how it's done. Especially the Vatican.

Now, to be fair, I'm neither Catholic nor a member of any organized religion, so I'm speaking as an outsider - which is why I had to smile when I read the article from the AP informing us that, contrary to historical precedent (and rules), the College of Cardinals may begin deciding the current Pope's successor early.

After all, it's one thing when a system is set up - and has worked for almost 800 years - to make rules like a "required 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy becomes vacant."

Grieving. Travel. Politicking. It all needs time...especially in the run-up to selecting the organization's new leader.

(Does this remind anyone, as it does me, of the Electoral College and the delay between election and inauguration? Hmmm. But I digress.)

It's a whole other thing when time has moved on and the policy may no longer make quite as much sense - and may, in fact, actually or potentially hurt or be perceived to hurt ongoing operations.

As a result, the Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the rules are up for interpretation and that the date might be moved up because:
"It is possible that church authorities can prepare a proposal to be taken up by the cardinals on the first day after the papal vacancy."
Why is this important? Because the reason that it's even being discussed is the concern that with Holy Week beginning March 24, they need a leader in place. And, to do so, they need to move faster than the organization is used to moving.

Sound familiar? Suddenly sound like you?

And that's the lesson for you here:

No matter how embedded your policies, procedures, rules and regulations might be - whether formally or informally - it's always time to look at those systems to determine whether they address your current and emerging needs.

After all, just because it was right when the policy was set doesn't mean that it's still best for your organization now.

Just ask the Vatican.
Vatican may move date to elect new pope (SFGate)

Innovation and Productivity: How's Your Infrastructure?

When you think about infrastructure, you tend to think roads and bridges. That's because the talking heads who talk politics always put infrastructure in that context.

As far as that goes, it's correct.

But, if you look at all the components of infrastructure - and then apply them to your organization - what you quickly see is that those "roads and bridges" are representative of how you and your organization are getting where you're trying to go.

What are you building? And how?

What are your policies and procedures? Are you consistently looking for opportunities to become more effective and efficient? Measurably?

Do you listen to your employees? Do you give them a chance to contribute and feedback information about the obstacles they face...without you becoming defensive?

How well trained are your employees? By whom? Are you ensuring your employees have all the knowledge and skill they need to demonstrate the ability you're looking for from them?

Do you have systems for innovation and expanded participation? Do you regularly work to collect new ideas from your employees, customers and suppliers that lead to new products, services and ways of doing business?

What you'll find is that the less you pay attention to those questions, the more organizational traffic jams you create and the slower your organization is able to perform and deliver. (Think the LA Freeway system in the heart of rush hour and you'll get my drift.)

Take some time to observe the infrastructure you've got. Then build the roads and bridges you need in your organizational infrastructure to create the success you always envisioned.

You'll definitely get where you want to go...because you'll have built what it takes to get there.