Friday Quote: Use Fewer Words If You Want Action

nordstrom_1_108744From Chapter 6: How to Be Open, in Humanize (p. 127), this quote comes after we make reference to Nordstrom’s awesome one-paragraph employee manual, that basically says “we trust you. Use your best judgment.” You don’t have to be as brief as Nordstrom, but your 300 page manual with detailed instructions on how people are supposed to behave is just not cutting it any more.

“But the other reason you need a brief manual is that you need people to be able to memorize it, or at least the key components of it. If you are going to have a decentralized culture, then the center needs to have the ability to articulate its guidance in small, memorable chunks. Using few words is required because in a decentralized culture, the periphery is expected to use their own judgment and solve their own problems, but in a way that is consistent with principles that come from the center. If people can remember the principles, then the system can achieve some cohesion and consistency, without robbing the periphery of its autonomy.”