Sunday, November 13, 2011

Policy Over Personality

Policy Over Personality

A forgotten lesson in organization surfaced last week at Penn State University. That principal which is often ignored is that all businesses, governmental agencies, all organizations must conduct their affairs based on stated policy rather than on personalities. Too often policy is pushed aside when an individual of commanding authority rises above an adherence to a well thought out policy. Similar to the too big to fail syndrome is this idea of the man being greater than the organization he works for even if, in fact, he started and built the organization. 

When policy is either ignored or bent because of a particular person's importance or power position the very structure of the organization weakens and, in Penn State's case, broke down completely. If the University had a policy of zero tolerance for disclosure which was abridged by the school and the athletic department because Coach Paterno was involved, personality trumped policy. If the school took into account the the Division 1 football wins record looked at by fans and pundits for the last few years and put off disclosure because of it that certainly would be personality trumping policy.

Policy must always come out ahead of personally if the wheels of society are to continue turning properly. Constancy is rooted in policy which is the stated procedure independent of who is directing it and transcends particular individuals as they pass through the organization. Policy is timeless if it was well thought out and universal in its construct. Policy becomes the very backbone of any desirable organization that is worth its weight. A great university should have adhered to its stated policy and, if it had, Penn State would still be looking to advance a winning record beyond catching.

Ronald C. Downie


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