Judgment Based Upon Aspirational Guidance

The movie was set to be released. It had been shown to a screening audience to get reactions. The only thing that needed done was to remove the song at the beginning of the movie. The studio’s chief executive felt that the song didn’t fit the audience for the movie. His belief about the song was backed up by the reaction of the screening audience. But those who produced and directed the movie thought otherwise. Their judgment was that the song should remain. In this case, judgment prevailed over authority and data. Over the Rainbow was kept in the movie, and both the song and the movie, Wizard of Oz, have become classics.

Judgment is often disdained by organizational leaders. They invest huge amounts of time and money in the development of policies, rules, and regulations. Every conceivable situation needs to be covered by policies in the modern organization, and it reduces the need for managers to consider all possibilities before they make a decision.

When policies replace judgments, they also eliminate a sense of responsibility. Managers can always use the excuse of following policy should a decision not turn out to have the desired result. Those who prefer to use judgment rather than strictly following policy are thought of as mavericks.

Just imagine how our society might change if policies, rules and regulations were replaced with aspirational guidance? The guidance would provide principles for decision making, not strict rules. Just imagine how decisions might change if those making the decisions had responsibilities for principles, not rules? Just imagine the impact of principled based decisions on justice, mercy, and grace?

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“Organization can never be a substitute for initiative and for judgment” – Louis D. Brandeis (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1916-1939)

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