Enforcing the Unenforceable


I hear that there is pending legislation in many states, if not in Congress itself, that would “ban” texting while driving.  Have any of you actually texted while driving?  Are you that desperate to get a message to someone that the best way you can think of to do it is to try to type it on a tiny keyboard, possibly even hitting the same key three times to get a “C”?  And is the best way to get you to stop doing that the threat that you could be pulled over and fined at any second by a state trooper who “catches” you with his or her eagle eyes as you speed by at 77 miles per hour??

This is such a wonderful example of creating rules to make someone feel like they’re making a difference and controlling a situation they have no control over.  Sure texting while driving is stupid.  Sure it’s dangerous.  But so is riding a motorcycle without a helmet and many states actually REPEALED laws that made that mandatory.  And oh by the way, it’s just a tad easier for a cop to spot a motorcyclist without a helmet.

Here’s another one:  trying to “ban” employees from using Facebook or Twitter (or any of a dozen other popular uses of the internet these days) by creating a policy that “forbids” their use, or simply shuts down access from your network.

Two quick thoughts here:

1) how many of your employees are walking around with iPhones or some other device that let’s them use these applications anyway in spite of your ban?  How many will have those devices in 3 years?  Let’s be conservative and just say ALL OF THEM.

2) Don’t your employees have better things to do than ‘tweet’ with their friends all day?  Don’t they know that?

If you want to encourage your folks to focus on the task at hand, not unlike driving, isn’t a well-understood relationship between their focus, energy and dedication and outcomes that equally benefit your company AND them a better approach?  Oh wait, that’s a lot harder than issuing a policy or buying some super-duper firewall software…

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4 Comments on “Enforcing the Unenforceable”

  1. Joel Ross Says:

    Hey Bob,

    Another great post. Keep it up!

    The other thing those types of policies always seem to miss is that while there are poor uses for some of those sites, there’s also valid ways that sites like twitter can be used that actually benefit employees and the company. I found a new job on twitt..oh wait. Bad example!

    Seriously though, I find myself going to my network on Twitter to get answers, and 95% of the time, I get an answer without spinning my wheels for too long. You just have to rely that your employees are smart enough to know a good balance.

  2. Jason Says:

    It’s amazing to me how many companies have difficulty conveying the relationship between employee tasks and outcomes and the benefit to the employee and company. Too many companies are like a football team where only 3 of the 11 players on the field know where their endzone/goal is (please, no Detroit Lions jokes).

    • lionelr Says:

      I think they do know where their endzone/goal is, they may just not be all playing the same sport (please, no soccer jokes)… Employees may not have the same goals as their company… it all starts at the hiring process.

  3. Dave Kurt Says:

    I’m fantastic at texting while driving… And I tweet while at work. The stuff I have to say must be THAT important.


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