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The Dangers of Unquestioning Loyalty in Executing Company Policies

The first obstacle before a company management is in deciding when to take a decision. Policies drafted need to be implemented through strategies and effective execution of strategies need continual innovation on techniques so that strategies can meet the demands of policies. In this unchallenged chain of events, there lies one vital flaw, very often exploited at every level by procrastinators and incompetent administrators – unflinching loyalty to policies as an excuse to decide that no decision needs to be taken, even in the face of obvious needs. Typically, this approach is termed as ‘obliviousness’ to need issues.

The premise that no decisions need to be taken in the face of changing market realities as viable alternatives conflict with set policies of a company excuses the incompetent by glorifying their ‘loyalty.' The clear reluctance to extend quick adaptation to the market up to the level of company policies, while reducing personal loads, efforts, and responsibilities, blindsides the company to the world. You have too many such ‘loyal' people and one day, you wake up to find the world has left you behind.

In business, the primary need is to do viable business, and there is nothing that is inviolable, except the laws of the land and professional or business ethics. There is no way that company documents, whether in the name of policies or guidelines or resolutions, and the dead words contained in them, should be allowed to stand in the way of business. However, in real offices and businesses, in meetings and sessions, we regularly see arguments that quash the voice of opposition by citing policy documents that are divorced from reality. Why? Because decision making involves costs, but obliviousness is cheap.

A major driver of obliviousness is that some managers genuinely believe that when a company's objectives, target plans, policies, and strategies have already been worked out in countless meetings, there is little gain in trying to spot potential calamities or new opportunities.

The cost driver in favor of obliviousness works in many ways. Sometimes managers and executives are so preoccupied in running the business that they do not have time to look out for potential hazards or opportunities. Their regular duties consume their entire time and leave them exhausted, and this is invariably a cost and budgeting issues because companies do not allot workday periods assigned to the task of gauging the future. Most small businesses which fail within their first five years are casualties of this approach.

In companies with poor capital and high workload, especially in companies where the approach is to offer cheapest services and grab the business at any cost, even the company heads become so absorbed in operations that they lose sight of the big picture.

On top of loyalty to company policies, the need for survival comes as an irrefutable argument to close your mind towards changes in market reality. The most common argument is that we cannot afford to look at tomorrow, because there would be no tomorrow if we cannot manage to meet demands today.

But there is also no tomorrow, if you fail to recognize it upon its arrival.

Reference: J. Frank Yates, Decision Management: How to Assure Better Decisions in Your Company (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003)