Builders know they need to give their staff the opportunity to make smart decisions and function within their role effectively without being directed constantly. It’s been said so often that it’s a cliché. But here’s the problem: We have trouble resolving the tension between employee empowerment and operational discipline. This challenge is so difficult that it ties companies up in knots.
That may be because we cling to the notion that freedom and control are zero-sum, often oscillating between the extremes. However, after working within heaps of building and trade businesses I’ve learned that guidelines are not the death of freedom if they’re well designed and well implemented. They actually support and nurture it by giving people a clear, positive, galvanizing sense of where the organization is trying to go.
Builders who have made this basic but counter intuitive discovery have essentially cultivated freedom within a framework, embedding the company’s purpose, priorities, and principles into a functional system. Once they’ve laid out the framework, they commit substantial resources to helping employees understand it and thrive within it.
[paraphrased HBR May 2018 Structure That's Not Stifling by Ranjay Gulati]