We hear so much about having standard operating procedures. They are the standard. But there is a deep dark problem with standard operating procedures. They are average. And average just isn’t good enough. We need something better. Much better.
Average is boring
What we need are Strict Operating Procedures. Strict not standard. This little difference boils down to boundaries. Standard operating procedures have theoretical boundaries. Strict operating procedures have practical boundaries.
Boundaries which are talked about but never enforced are not truly boundaries, but rather simple threats. Unenforced boundaries (threats) do more than show weaknesses. They create the opposite effect. They create negative reinforcement. Meaning they get the opposite of what you are looking for. The staff know they can push the limits and will continue to push the limits because there are no repercussions.
Take a simple example. You tell your kids that bedtime is 9 pm. At 9:15 they are still wandering around the kitchen looking for something to eat. Boundaries not enforced.
Going with a Strict Operating Procedure not only means boundary enforcement but also that the procedures are spelled out clearly. The thing that you are trying to achieve is to spell out what can and cannot be done. No deviations.
Coca Cola locks its formula in separate vaults and then spells out the steps in Strict Operating Procedures. Banks have strict money handling procedures. The same should be held for risk management and safety procedures.
Many of the injuries and illnesses arise because of risk-taking which is done because the operating procedure is not clear enough or the policy is not enforced. If you want to reduce these incidents consider transitioning your standard procedures to strict procedures. Strict is better than average any day of the week.