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Rules and customs

We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules. Alan Bennett


These are the rules and customs relating to what people can or should do in general, rather than the way specific business processes are carried out. At the beginning of an organization's life there are few rules, things just have to be done and no one worries too much how, but as time goes by and more people become involved, rules and customs start appearing. These may relate to the way the organization operates (all customers must be accompanied while visiting the organization's offices) or may govern the social conduct of staff (no whistling, swearing or running in the office).

R
ules never decrease: Rules, like laws, are subject to the ratchet effect - they are instituted when problems arise, but never get relaxed or abolished when things improve. They can also get out of balance, for example, when multiple signatures are required to authorize a taxi home when working late, but no one checks the identity of people wandering into the stockroom full of expensive office equipment. Customs gradually build up over a period of time.


Rules v customs: 
Customs are the traditional ways of doing things and can be regarded as unwritten rules. However, the custom may be to ignore a formal rule as when a ‘blind eye’ is turned to employees taking home scrap items which should be accounted for and disposed of officially. Some other examples of customs being at variance with the official rules are shown below:

Rule:
Promotion on merit only

Working week of 37 hours
Holiday entitlement of 5 weeks
Child’s events taken as holiday

Custom:
Relatives or friends promoted

45 hours work is expected
No more than 3 weeks are taken
Phone in sick

Dress is one of those unwritten rules or customs - accountancy and legal firms usually requiring suits, with the media and the arts often having a more informal dress code. Some customs can be abused and difficult to break - staff being allowed to travel first class to important meetings and actually traveling economy but still claiming expenses for first class. >>>