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Rules or exceptions?

Mapraputa Is
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Imagine that you are a manager in a medium size whorehouse. The owner gave you a list with all the rules you need to obey and make other obey. But the ultimate goal is to make the place as profitable as possible, of course. You can better achieve this, if you break some rules, like give more privileges to your best workers to keep them from quitting, or to allow frequent clients to use services on credit sometimes... How reluctant/eager would you be to break rules (assume that you don't break them for your own benefit)?

In fact, this is a philosophical question, or even ethical, if you don't mind. I only used managing a whorehouse problem as an illustration, so please, don't go into much details. Do you prefer to stick to the rules, or to improvise depending on concrete situation? I guess, most people would say "it depends", "somewhere between". To make responses comparable, where would you place yourself on this scale:



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Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

+3


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Dirk Schreckmann
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+5


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Gregg Bolinger
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    6

A little background. Back in the day I used to work at Blockbuster Video. I eventually became the assistant store manager at one of the stores. My manager was an ex cop. So you can imagine that he was on the scale at around -5. Being trained that way, naturally I would assume a lot of his practices. I was then given my own store in another city. I took my -5 attitude with me. Man, did that screw me over. I soon learned that almost all policy/rules is gray. Not black and white. There are always exceptions to made of the rules and a good manager has to know how to achieve the balance. Suffice it to say, I never really found that balance. I consider myself a good manager of "things" just not people.

But I would say sticking around 0 is a good place to be with willingness to slide one way or another when the need arises.


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Max Habibi
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Interesting.

What if you're a manager in this same store, and one of your employees starting breaking rules s/he had agreed to follow when they hired on, "In the interest of profitability". I'm not asking anyone to post their answers here, but I wonder if you would reconsider.

That is, do we have one set of standards for ourselves, and another for other people?

If do we do have one set of standards for ourselves and another for other people ,then it makes sense for the employees not to break rules, even as we do.


If do we do not have one set of standards for ourselves and another for other people ,then we have to be as supportive of employees who break the rules as we are of our own right to do so.

M


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Warren Dew
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    2
I'm imagining that I'm the manager, right? In that case, I expect that I'm the one in the best position to see what needs to be done to make things run smoothly and profitably, and recommend appropriate rules to the owner, if he doesn't just delegate that authority to me in the first place. So:

Do you prefer to stick to the rules, or to improvise depending on concrete situation?

Both. Make the rules flexible enough that they don't need to be broken to deal with concrete situations.
Joe King
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I suppose it depends upon if your boss is watching or not
fred rosenberger
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  16

I used to work for a major retail bookstore chain. for a while i was an assistant manager at a mall-division store. Lots of responsibilities, lots of decisions to make. I occasionally broke the rules to keep some customers happy.

long story short, i quit for a while, and went to work a clerk at a free-standing superstore. I would never break the rules. It was not my place - but i never hesitated to call a supervisor in and let THEM decide whether or not to break the rules.

So, as a clerk, probably -4 or -5. but as a manager, +3.


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stara szkapa
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Brake the rules if you need to do you work, but you have to take full responsibility for any side effects, or rather prevent any side effects. Unfortunately quite often you have to do it if your job security depends on performance rather then following rules. In some places where following rules is more important then performance like Banks or Army just follow them.
Jeffrey Hunter
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This reminds me of a lecture a few years back in some intro to sociology course where the professor spoke about this idea called The Iron Cage of Rationality. In a nutshell, it's the idea that when the rules become sacred and immutable, people lose the ability to adapt to unique situations, and many times the rules themselves hinder solutions to rather simple problems. As we all know, government bureaucracies are notorious for this.

So, I believe it's an inherent quality of a good leader to know when to it's time to sacrifice the rules, and adapt to the situation. Of course, if you had all your employees adapting according to their own whims, your business probably wouldn't last long.
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

[/CODE]


:-)


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Homer Phillips
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-3

I find it so sad when people who follow the rules get trounced by the rule breakers. If the rules are not the rules then why have them?
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Homer Phillips ]
fred rosenberger
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  16

Homer,

I'm just curious... do you ever drive over the speed limit - even by 1 foot-per-hour? have you ever crossed a street someplace OTHER than a marked crosswalk, or when the "don't walk" sign was lit? Have you ever taken a pen home from work, a store, someone's home?

technically, all these are 'against the rules', but i doubt you can tell me you've never broken any of them. and if you do, i don't think i'd believe you.

perhaps instead of 'rules' they should be called 'guidlines'...

Selective enforcement of the law is common, and i'd even say necesary. unless you want to triple the size of our police force, court system, jails, etc, and the associated costs, sometimes rules are bent/broken to allow for the better functioning of society.
Homer Phillips
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Well there's the speed limit and there is the real speed limit. The posted sign is 70 mph. I have no problem with doing 75 mph. When people go by me at 90 mph.

Well I had my emergancy flashers on, that gives me superpowers :roll: .

or how about - I GOT MY BLINKER ON.

I like guidelines to be labelled guidelines.

I hate - "You didn't do what we told you to do did ya?"

I been fired for following the rules.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Homer Phillips ]
Bhau Mhatre
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the ultimate goal is to make the place as profitable as possible
Do you prefer to stick to the rules, or to improvise depending on concrete situation?

If the boss owns a gun, visits often, installs spies, and does not share the profits with me: -5
If the boss does not own a gun, visits rarely, trusts me, and provides incentives via shares in profits: +5
Other possibilities: >= -5 && <= +5

A philosophical question??


-Mumbai cha Bhau
Homer Phillips
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Selective enforcement of the law is common, and i'd even say necesary.


So the legislature writes and enacts a Geneva Convention. The president says I am the commander and chief, I will torture prisoners if I want to.

BTW this -5 to +5 scale is a linear distribution of offenses into about 10% buckets isn't it? It's not a normal distribution where -5 is 1 in 10000?
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Jeffrey Hunter:
This reminds me of a lecture a few years back in some intro to sociology course where the professor spoke about this idea called The Iron Cage of Rationality. In a nutshell, it's the idea that when the rules become sacred and immutable, people lose the ability to adapt to unique situations, and many times the rules themselves hinder solutions to rather simple problems. As we all know, government bureaucracies are notorious for this.


Interestingly, it reminds me of a law course where we discussed the Rule of Law

This seems to me to a idiosyncratic (though not exclusively) American institution. That is, America explicitly reject the rights of Kings and lords who changed laws to suit their own situations. This was considered intolerable by our founding fathers who dreamed of a nation established on the rule of duly enacted laws, not the edicts of tyrants( even benevolent Tyrants)

Democracy envisions an institute of government whereby the people rule themselves under law according to the principles of due process.

The alternative is that my idea of what's good get's enforced, regardless of the social contracts negotiated between us.

For example, I might decide that the greater good of humanity would be served if I modified your post to make it sound like you agreed with me, even if it's technically against the 'rules'.

I wouldn't do this, because I respect the rules. However, if I did, I could justify it under the mandate of 'bending the rules to serve the greater good'. Does that seem right to you?



So, I believe it's an inherent quality of a good leader to know when to it's time to sacrifice the rules, and adapt to the situation.

I don't think this sort of quality is limited to good leaders: some very bad leaders choose to sacrifice the rules and adapt to the situation as well. This tends to work out rather badly for people on the other side of the gun.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
stara szkapa
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Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
-3

I find it so sad when people who follow the rules get trounced by the rule breakers. If the rules are not the rules then why have them?



Because people who impose rules on you might actually don't care if you break them or not, but they don't want to take responsibility for any damage resulting from you not following rules. It is sort of informal delegation of responsibility.

Example: your employer might not permit you to install on your home computer some Microsoft software which is licensed to your company. If you do it anyway you are responsible, and you might even get fired if Microsoft finds out. However for the time being your employer pretends he doesn�t know but in fact silently permits you do it because you can do some work at home at your spare time.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

I said "+3" when we were talking about rules. Rules are entirely different from laws, although some people seem to be confusing them. Laws are absolute in my book, whereas rules, as the saying goes, are made to be broken.

Taking Microsoft software home and installing it is (and yeah, sure, half of you will disagree with me, but whatever, I don't want to hear it) is against the law in the US and many other countries. That's entirely different from, say, a company rule that says you can only install commercial software on your company computer, and no open source. The latter is a rule, and if I need open-source to do my job, you can bet I'm going to break that rule.
Homer Phillips
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OK the lawyer owns the establishment and the insurance company that underwrites it says no BJs without a condom. I have no trouble disregarding Map's directive because it refines the discussion. My breaking the rule goes over the line but it has serious complications in either direction.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
I said "+3" when we were talking about rules. Rules are entirely different from laws, although some people seem to be confusing them. Laws are absolute in my book, whereas rules, as the saying goes, are made to be broken.


Not to speak for Map, but I think she meant to group rules and laws under the same bucket. That bucket being what you are calling Law.
Jeffrey Hunter
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You may accuse me of being cynical but don't worry, it's been done before. I rather like to think of myself as a Realist, even if I'm confined to the boundaries of my own little version of reality (well, just me and the voices...what was that? shhh, I'm trying to finish this post!).

Anyhow, I see it like this -- society does not operate in the realm of -5. Like it or not, we will never tolerate 100% enforcement of the law. It's called selective enforcement, and it is based on the same idea I'm trying to convey -- officers and other individuals in leadership/authoritative positions make reasonable decisions to follow or disregard certain rules. Effective leaders will find the balance, and yes, perhaps it will fall somewhere around -3, but then again, in other situations it may be +3.

You can take the extreme and argue that if rules are broken, you begin the slippery slope towards chaos and tyranny, but like I said, this is not reality. It's reality that we live somewhere -5 < < 5 (to adapt someone else's eloquent description).
stara szkapa
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
I said "+3" when we were talking about rules. Rules are entirely different from laws, although some people seem to be confusing them. Laws are absolute in my book, whereas rules, as the saying goes, are made to be broken.

Taking Microsoft software home and installing it is (and yeah, sure, half of you will disagree with me, but whatever, I don't want to hear it) is against the law in the US and many other countries. That's entirely different from, say, a company rule that says you can only install commercial software on your company computer, and no open source. The latter is a rule, and if I need open-source to do my job, you can bet I'm going to break that rule.


In my example the emphases is on your employer not permitting you to install his software on your home computer. This is the rule between your employer and you. It is not a law (your employer is not legislature). It doesn�t have to be Microsoft software, it might be a proprietary piece of source code which belongs to your company and on which you work.

My point is that sometimes braking rules is beneficial to both parties, but usually shifts responsibility from one who imposes it to one who breaks it.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: stara szkapa ]
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Jeffrey Hunter:
You may accuse me of being cynical
I wouldn't say that your views are distrustful of human nature(cynical). As a matter of fact, given the amount of trust you place in authority, I would categorize your views as highly optimistic about same. optimism with a preference for a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people.



Anyhow, I see it like this -- society does not operate in the realm of -5. Like it or not, we will never tolerate 100% enforcement of the law. It's called selective enforcement,


It may be called any number of things, but it's not part of the framework of democracy. Equal Protection is.


You can take the extreme and argue


This is akin to saying "all counter arguments which support X,Y,or Z are, by my decree, extreme". That's not the way we do things on JR, unless Paul is doing the decreeing.

that if rules are broken, you begin the slippery slope towards chaos and tyranny, but like I said, this is not reality.


You mean, in your opinion, it's not reality? Interesting. Do you own a dog, or teach, or have children?

M
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Warren Dew
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fred rosenberger:

Homer,

I'm just curious... do you ever drive over the speed limit - even by 1 foot-per-hour? have you ever crossed a street someplace OTHER than a marked crosswalk, or when the "don't walk" sign was lit? Have you ever taken a pen home from work, a store, someone's home?


Homer didn't say one should never break the rules, he just said he was saddened when rule breakers do better than those who obey them. Personally, I see those situations as arguments for changing the rules, rather than breaking them.
stara szkapa
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
Rules are entirely different from laws


Conceptually there is no difference, because most rules can be made into law. Many rules become laws.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Originally posted by stara szkapa:


Conceptually there is no difference, because most rules can be made into law.


You're right, this was very sloppy of me -- I can't make a claim like this without providing a definition.

A law is established by a government.

A rule is established by a private party.

I think there's a vast divide between the two. A rule can be changed simply by saying "no." This isn't true of laws.
Mapraputa Is
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Max: Not to speak for Map, but I think she meant to group rules and laws under the same bucket. That bucket being what you are calling Law.

To keep up our tradition of relentless disagreement, I disagree. I didn't think about laws, certainly, this may be a related question, but not what I meant.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Max: Not to speak for Map, but I think she meant to group rules and laws under the same bucket. That bucket being what you are calling Law.

To keep up our tradition of relentless disagreement, I disagree.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]


mu
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
stara szkapa
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:


A law is established by a government.

A rule is established by a private party.



Not necessary, Common law gets established by people, not by governments. Conceptually there is no difference. Except for laws are easier to enforce and harder to change.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by stara szkapa:


Not necessary, Common law gets established by people, not by governments.

Common law? Do you have an example? I don't think there are any "laws" that are not passed by government in the USA.


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Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Common law? Do you have an example?




Louisiana
Homer Phillips
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Selective enforcement of the law is common, and i'd even say necesary. unless you want to triple the size of our police force, court system, jails, etc, and the associated costs, sometimes rules are bent/broken to allow for the better functioning of society.


I don't see it that way. I believe that unless one has some valid excuse the rules must be followed. People should follow the rules without being forced to do so. My standards on valid excuse are pretty high too.

Backing up on the interstate because you missed your exit and are going to be later if you don't is not valid. If one has made a mistake, or suffered a misfortune ( power failed and my alarm clock did not work ) this is not cause for breaking the rules.

If one has a passenger in the car that needs urgent medical attention, by all means speed.

If one is the manager of a bottled water distribution plant and an eathquake has ruined the water system, give the boss'es baottles water away.
Mapraputa Is
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Tom, you didn't say what your number is.
Max Habibi
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Nor, for that matter, did you or I.

I'm sure Tom would give his number if he wanted to.

M
Mapraputa Is
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Well, I would say mine is +4 just to not to be extreme, but to be honest, for all practical implications it's +5.
Homer Phillips
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Neither of you two are being nice.
Max Habibi
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Whom?

Map & I? Tom & Map? Map & Tom? Tom & I? AFIK, we're being really nice

M
Thomas Paul
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It's a whorehouse so presumably I am already breaking the law so why should I care about breaking some stupid rules? +200.
Don Stadler
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
It's a whorehouse so presumably I am already breaking the law so why should I care about breaking some stupid rules? +200.


Wouldn't that depend upon the owner? For example, John Gotti. -200
 
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