19 Dec 2017

More on Operating Principles – The Christmas Story

Principles of Operation are one of the most useful tools the leadership of an organisation can deploy. These principles guide decision making and uphold the cultural values of the business and, in so doing, protect and integrity of the products and services.

There are rarely more than a handful of top-level principles in any given company – what are yours and how might they relate to the scenarios outlined below?

First Scenario

You are Santa Claus and last night, at home, you received a telephone call from the Managing Director of your major, and strategic, toy supplier (someone with whom you have built up a sound personal relationship over the past 1500 years you have been doing business together).

He/She rang to complain about the attitude of one of your top purchasing Elves who had just placed the order for the 2017 requirement for girls toys and games.

The Toy Supplier’s MD said that although the Elf was a customer, he/she had upset several of their employees by being power crazy, condescending and coming across as a brash, arrogant, chauvinist.

The client MD said that if this attitude were encountered again, it would jeopardise future supplies to the Santa Claus organisation, even though this time they welcomed the order.

If you were Santa, how would you remedy the situation? For example, what is the real problem here and which principle of operation has this Elf transgressed placing the organisation in jeopardy?

Second Scenario

You are one of the three Kings in the Christmas story.

You are camped outside Bethlehem getting ready to make the final day’s journey to deliver your gift of Frankincense to the new Messiah.

You awoke this morning to find all the camels asleep, covered in grime and without their fettles and saddles. You discovered, from simple enquiry, that the Road Manager took the stable-hands and pack handlers drinking and carousing, (all night) at the Inn. They took your camels and have only just got back.

You decide a reprimand is needed – what will you say? Which principle of operation is at stake here?

Third Scenario

You are the Innkeeper in Bethlehem in the year 0000.

A key strength you have is that you are proud of your service and very particular about protecting your brand. Today you have had to accommodate a lovely young couple of newly-weds in the stables as your receptionist double booked the bridal suite, and gave it away to a Pharisee merchant and his five concubines. The poor bride is heavily pregnant and you consider a reprimand is in order.

What is the principle that this receptionist has not met by his/her actions?

If you were the Innkeeper, what will you say to your receptionist to ensure it does not do happen again?

For more on guiding principles, follow our Governing Change programme – 2018 dates can be found here.