To break a rule or not to, 'tis the Q

What must they have been thinking? Surely, it is procedure for Continental Airlines to impose a final security check at the aero-bridge just before boarding the aircraft. But what about violation of protocol? Dr. Abdul Kalam is no ordinary citizen. He is a former President. But beyond that, what angers people even more is, the man in question is revered by all. His nobility and simplicity is admired across cross-sections of Indian society. And to have such a person, who is also the former President subject to 'frisking' would be considered an outrage.

Again, what must they have been thinking?

The answer's simple. They were shortsighted and so were considering the implications of the present, discounting the impact of the future. You see, its easier for all of us to understand the present and react to it, as its more finite and visible. The future is always discounted as it is distant and does not have any impact, for the present moment.

The officials at Continental saw the present. Frisking must have been part of procedure. They would have been more worried about what would happen if they didn't do it. Maybe the person in question (the frisker) could even be terminated form his job due to a breach in procedure and so, to save himself he subjects the former President to frisking. The uproar that its now caused, was hardly seen or considered, then.

In our consumer-life, this is commonplace. We are subject to rules, at times, that don't make sense at all. The rule enforcer states procedure behind the enforcement. He isn't about to break a rule, so I, the customer can be served better. Because, more than making my life better, he's bound to save his job. After all, if he did take the risk of waving aside a rule to make my day, what's the guarantee his boss is going to stand by him? So he takes the easy way out and subjects me to an act that's nonsensical.

Don't get me wrong. Bureaucracy brings with it order. But there's always a better way. And business firms that find that better way are ones that empower employees to circumvent rules, when its called for. When it serves the customer better. A post mortem analysis can show them the error in existing process. It can then be bettered. That delivers on better customer satisfaction.


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