Rules or Principles

By Bill Wilder, M.Ed., Life Cycle Engineering

In my last blog we discussed the fact that an Asset Management Policy is a set of principles that must be communicated by leadership and supervision repeatedly through various vehicles.

What is a principle? I will share the words of a well-known authority on human behavior and motivating people to change their behavior – Roy H. Williams. Roy created the Wizard Academy, a school for the imaginative, the courageous and the ambitious.

Roy tells us, “We resist rigid rules and rely instead on universal principles.

"Laid side-by-side, a stick and a rope have a similar profile. Likewise, rules and principles look alike even though they have little in common.

"Rules are like sticks. You can prod people with them. You can threaten people with them. You can beat people with them. But you cannot lead people with them. When a rule doesn't fit the circumstance, your only choice is to break it.

"Principles are like rope, able to be wrapped around even the most weirdly shaped problems. They are less brittle than rules, and stronger. Principles whisper priceless advice and people are happily led by them.

"A rule requires obedience.

"A principle requires contemplation.”

Will your policy promote blind obedience or creative contemplation?


Bill Wilder, M.Ed is the founder and director of the Life Cycle Institute, the learning, leadership and change management practice at Life Cycle Engineering. The Institute integrates the science of learning and the science of change management to help organizations produce results through behavior change. You can reach Bill at [email protected].

© Life Cycle Engineering

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