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Of Tangled Threads and Orderly Webs

The other day while browsing on LinkedIn, I came upon a post, the gist of which was that predetermined SOPs are not really necessary to an organisation; good and smart people will find ways to fulfil their responsibilities efficiently and well, while people who are bad at their jobs will continue to be bad, no matter what the circumstances are. What followed in the comments section was a long, but productive discussion on whether SOPs are actually beneficial to the operations of an organisation, or if it’s a gimmick that companies can prosper even without.

But hear me out on this, and this little detail is crucial: SOPs are not just about the individuals, but about the collective, the success of an organisation as a whole. Consider this, a chef may rely occasionally on strokes of inspiration and ingenuity to come up with a recipe or to create a successful dish, but in the long run, they will need to follow a recipe to replicate the same dish, and more so to do it consistently. SOPs operate in the same manner, ensuring that a structure or framework exists within an organisation that provides consistency, efficiency and accountability.

One important point that a contributor raised to the discussion was the fact that while ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people may perform a certain task in their own respective method, it isn’t necessary that either of them could be performing a task in its correct prescribed manner. The easiest, most obvious tasks are the ones most prone to being messed up, and in an organisation, there is a plethora of things that can go wrong, and more often than not, they do. Standard operating procedures can dramatically reduce the probability of such events happening, if not completely eliminate such instances.

As far as the argument for ‘good’ people being good at their job goes, if a better way to perform a task is somehow arrived at, it can always be tried and tested to see that it doesn’t cause problems elsewhere. Once it has been proven to be a superior method, the standard can be changed and taught to others as well.

SOPs are indispensable tools for promoting consistency, efficiency, and accountability within organizations. Rather than stifling innovation, well-designed SOPs empower individuals to perform their roles effectively while maintaining operational integrity. So, the next time you question the importance of SOPs, remember: they’re not just rules; they’re the formula for organizational achievement.


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