+ Most ‘ladders’ have something to do with control. Somebody wants to control a certain process where something can go wrong and they take preliminary actions to make sure that it can’t go wrong. But in many cases, they forget to take in account the costs, time, energy it takes to follow the rules and guidelines towards the advantages of the controlling mechanism. Sometimes it’s better to allow 1 or 2 exceptional ‘mistakes’ instead of trying to control a whole organisation. People will find shortcuts anyway.
+ And if you want to read another nice ‘ladder-story’, you can read this blog ‘Sorry, it doesn’t fit in the system‘.
How can you remove inefficient ladders?
+ Be aware that employees who work less than 100 days (around 3 months) in your organisation are worth gold because they still recognize ladders because they haven’t become part of their daily habit. So listen (or even better create a ‘formal’ process) to gather information from newbies about the ‘weird’ habits in the organisation. They are perfect ladder-spotters.
+ Allow yourself to take some distance and time to look at the different processes in your organisation. Dare to ask a lot of questions why you are doing the things that you’re doing. Is a certain flow of actions still the most effective & efficient way? Are the advantages of a certain rule still bigger than the disadvantages (not only in terms of budget but also taking in account the mental energy & time that people spend on that activity)?
+ Start with an expiration date for rules. Expiration dates are very common in the food-business. People check if the date is still valid to decide if you can still use the product or not. It could be very interesting to start with a similar decision process for rules. Every new rule or guideline has an expiration date of a year (or max 5 years) and after that period you evaluate that rule. Still valid, then you keep the rule and otherwise, get rid of the ‘ladder’.
+ Do a short brainstorming session around a process that’s not efficient anymore. How can you solve that challenge? Look for new ideas in different industries. Challenge the assumptions of that process … what would happen if? Changes are big that you might find some ideas that are more efficient and elegant that the solution that’s installed right now.
+ And be aware that some people are very close connected to a certain ladder. If you start to doubt the significance of those ladders, you’re doubting their right to exist and ego and might find a lot of resistance. So make sure that you check in advance who’s ‘responsible’ for a ladder and start working with those people if you can get them on board to change the ‘ladder’ into something that’s also valuable for them.