58842029-Dan+Weedin+Unleashed-43 copyFrom my monthly column for the Kitsap Sun

The Unites States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal & Ancient (R&A) have collaborated on a major change in the golf landscape that has a business lesson attached to it.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the two forces in managing the rules of golf used around the world have decreased the number of rules of the game. In fact, they reduced the number of rules by 33 percent! The game is all about fair play and the rules are critical to the future success and popularity of the game.

Why is this significant?

It’s significant because many of the rules added challenges to the amateur golfer’s enjoyment of the game. The rules are in place to provide guidance, not angst. Many of the rules slowed play dramatically, created confusion, and were often broken anyways because we didn’t fully understand them. These changes in the rules were meant for the amateurs, not the professionals. The objective was to decrease frustration, speed up play, and increase enjoyment while not taking away from the spirit of the game.

Why is this significant to you in business, especially if you don’t play golf?

What the ruling bodies of golf did was to simplify by subtraction. Take a look at your own company “rule books.” If you’re like most business owners I work with and meet, you’ll see rows of binders on shelves. They include employee manuals, safety manuals, hiring manuals, training manuals, crisis manuals, procedures manuals, and insurance policies dating back to 1997. You might have to wipe away some of the dust buildup to check for yourself.

Companies do a great job of making rules and procedures in an attempt to improve knowledge, efficiency, and performance. What’s actually happened is just the opposite. They’ve created confusion, aggravation, and their own version of “slow play,” which translates into lost profits.

Take managing a serious crisis during the workday as an example. An employee or client suffers a medical emergency in your office. You’re on vacation and the actual “first responders” are your employees because medical help is 10 minutes away. You have manuals for these situations because you’ve thought through scenarios just like these seven years ago. The problem is that the manuals are outdated; your employees have no idea where they are kept; even if they did they have no time to search for the right response; and they’ve never practiced a medical crisis response.

Golf is a game; this is life and death or at the least lost time and money. Had your rules been simpler, the proper response would have been better regardless of the eventual outcome. Let’s take a look at my simple three-step proves to simplifying your rules for better results:

Step 1: Throw out all obsolete materials. All they do is create clutter and add to confusion in a crisis. If you need to keep the information, it’s very easy in this digital age to scan and save without taking any space. How do you know what’s obsolete? You’ll know because it’s either never been used, clearly is “off the shelf” information, and/or is historical in nature.

Step 2: Focus on what’s important. Here’s what’s important: human safety and security directions; up-to-date compliance information; a current emergency contact list; guidelines on what to do in the event of a loss of power and/or connectivity; and a clear and communicated checklist of chain of command.

While your company may have other important areas of focus, this is a starting point. There are many sub-parts of each of these (e.g. CPR to evacuation routes for human safety) and they should be identified by leadership and disseminated to management to implement.

Step 3: Make it easy to find. Binders might be fine when there is plenty of time to do research. This is rarely the case in the event of a calamity. Create a system where all these vitally important and time-sensitive resources are available at the touch of a finger. Everyone carries mobile devices and are used to using them to find information. It’s time to utilize 21st century technology to aid your employees in a manner they are used to. While this might at first thought feel daunting, you likely have both internal and external resources to help, and you will find them to be a great return on investment in the event of a crisis.

Let’s be clear, while this may appear simple, the work is in doing it. You may be like the couple that lived in the same house for over 50 years. The house is filled with “stuff” that belongs to many people who no longer live there, or contents what were once wanted and now forgotten. In order to clean out the attic, garage, and your company clutter, it takes a strategic plan that involves all members of the team. Just like any other action, proper planning and preparation on the front end – with clear directives – will optimize time and accelerate results.

You can take a lesson from the USGA and R&A. By simplifying your “rule book,” even daily procedures and operations will become easier. The results of this simplification of the rules of play include improved employee morale, a safer work environment, accelerated crisis recovery time, and improved productivity and profitability. And that’s a birdie in my book!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-271-1592; e-mail at [email protected] or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.

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