In-house Issues: Debunk Dummy Directives

If it’s not written down, it’s not a rule.

An in-house manager related an interesting story to me at a conference a few years ago. He wanted to put an initiative into place that would ultimately require the blessing of a senior VP. When he mentioned to some of his colleagues of his intention to approach the VP, he was met with stares of disbelief and vigorous warnings. “That’s not permitted!”,  “You can’t do that!”, “Are you nuts!” (I’m paraphrasing here.)


Having come into the “Alice In Wonderland” world of in-house from an agency, he ignored the warnings and proceeded to have a very productive meeting with the high and mighty VP.

Had the manager in question broken company policy and cavalierly risked being drawn and quartered or worse yet a drumming down by HR? Nope. And how did he know this? Because “the rule” was an urban, or rather, a corporate myth. It wasn’t written in any memo, manual or policy statement that it was impermissible to approach senior VPs. Someone had just made it up and enough other people jumped on board to make it a corporate rule of law.

These bogus policies are responsible for more unrealized opportunities and business stagnation than any other corporate cultural dysfunction. It’s a designer’s job to question them mercilessly if they get in the way of their job. You’re only allowed to work with 3 different printers a year? Really? Where does it say that? No option for comp days? Is that in the HR manual? Can’t work off site?  Didn’t see that in my onboarding packet.

So the good news is that these fairy tale policies are fair game for bebunking. The bad news is that you have to do your homework and read your HR manual and those annoyingly obtuse corporate policy email updates to ensure you know your corporate right from your corporate wrong. Now go blow up some myths and write up your own policies for success.

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