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Procedures, Process, and Policy versus Common Sense

November 27, 2007

Last month we had a incident at YVR (Vancouver International Airport) were a Polish man was tasered by the RCMP and subsequently died. What happened was tragic and I haven’t seen so many people upset and angry over what happened. It is an event that just isn’t being forgotten. It seems this is the ultimate consequence of actions made without common sense.

Last night I had to go out to the airport to pickup some friends who were coming back from the Grey Cup game in Toronto. Of course their flight was delayed. In front of the domestic terminal is a pickup area of at least 300 yards. It is for immediate pickup of passengers so no stopping or parking. I drove down to the far end of the waiting area, left the engine on, and wated. The place was empty. Sure enough the rent-a-cop showed up (Concord Security) and asked me to move about 50 feet to the other side of some orange pylons. I said ok but said it seemed a little strange to ask me to do this when no one, absolutely no one was parked in this 300 yard stretch. He understood but said “That was the policy”. I moved the vehicle. I watched for another 15 minutes and there were 2 vehicles that picked up passengers. Other than that the area was devoid of human life.

This incident got me to thinking — where was the common sense in this request? And where in the world is common sense as a prime factor in decision making these days? I would suggest the removal of common sense in any decision making is attributable to:

– Avoidance of having to deal with any exceptions.
– Need for control of any and all situations.
– Avoidance of accountability for those establishing PPP.
– Erosion of the dignity and value of the human being. We are treated as chattels.
– Establishes the ‘us’ and ‘them’ with ‘them’ always portrayed as less than ‘us”.
– Those that fulfill the PPPs only experiencing a pseudo responsibility i.e. “I only work here” “Talk to my supervisor”.

This simplistic view of the world creates nothing but extreme levels of frustation and we read daily as to its consequences. The pathway to changing this is hard and time consuming. It really is legalism’s existence in our politically correct world. Oh that anyone would decide something with just a little common sense!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2007 12:37 am

    I resonated particularly with the “pseudo responsibility” – it lets us off the hook for using our creativity, using good judgement, seeing a larger picture than the immediate circumstance. And maybe gives us a little power-boost to boot, “I applied this policy and sure told them!” And our humanity is diminished, absolutely.

    To cheer us up, I’m using common sense to purchase a fountain pen 😉

  2. December 4, 2007 3:12 pm

    I was a night club bouncer and bartender for a few of my college years. Sometimes, though it makes no sense, “It’s Policy” becomes a shield to hide behind.

    I didnt care if people wanted to stand outside and smoke and laugh, but because we had some complaints it became policy that you cant make any noise outside. However the bar would have live bands with the doors open so you had to shout to talk even when you were outside. So the bar had a permit for music but not for talking? No, the policy was for days that there was no band. It was so we didnt have to deal with the whole “You weren’t hassling me last night – why are you bothering me tonight” conversation. The other part is if you keep a tight reign on activity, there is less of a chance of things getting out of control.

    Then we had things like dress codes. We had a lot of gang activity so our dress codes were pretty tight. But every weekend I had someone accuse me of being a racist because I wouldn’t let them in in their white t-shirt and Dickies. But inevitably these were the same folks that would go to the car and throw on a collard shirt, go inside and get drunk and then fight.

    But even though all of these policies make no sense and everything should be handled on a case by case basis (in my never to be humble opinion) – you have two things that prevent you from operating in that fashion…

    Personality issues with your employees. Look at the screening that cops have to go through and how many can still be a-holes for no reason. Do you have a chance to hire good and smart people who wont get you sued?

    And that is the second problem. We are a highly litigious society. If you ask someone to get off the sidewalk because they look like trouble – they want to know why everyone else gets to be on the sidewalk. Now you will get sued for discriminatory behavior. It doesnt matter if the guy you asked to leave was draped head to toe in gang colors and throwing signs. You have to treat him like everyone else.

    And thats what policies are. Treat everyone like someone you don’t trust and you can’t be sued.

    I think I am going to go cry now.

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